Home Style

Want to know how to add warmth to your rooms, how to decorate a child’s room, or need hints about furniture placement? It’s all coming up in Home Style.

This month we’re talking about a Decorating Myth - with additional "myths" to follow in subsequent issues. Some of them you may be aware of, others may be new to you, so please read on!

Do you have decorating dilemmas? Dead space? Maybe you’re in a design draught? In a pickle about paint? Wallowing in your wallpaper? Just email me, and let me know what you’d like to see and hear about in future Home Style issues. My email address here at Seasoned Cooking is , so while you’re here, drop me a note!

Jenny Wojcik

The last time we were together, I bared my soul and let you know that I can clutter with the best of them. It’s something that I have to think about every single time I’m in a store. I always have the urge to "feather my nest" with something new, or to do something that will change the look of a room.

I have honestly decorated, accessorized, draped, painted, grouted, papered, feathered and fauxed just about everything. My new project is trying to figure out a way to paint asphalt shingles. (I am sure it can be done, I just am not sure how to make it last in a salty sea environment. Any ideas would be welcomed!)

There really isn’t a day that goes by without me longing to have a paintbrush in my hand. Call me crazy, I love to paint. I also love color, and am in the process of choosing colors for the interior of my home. It’s sort of like the story where the cobbler’s children had no shoes; the designer has white walls and ceilings in her home. Not that white walls and ceiling would be a bad choice if it were a choice, but I moved into the house a year ago with a long list of honey-do’s (only I am the honey) and painting was down a bit on the list.

I have no problem selecting color for other people. My best friend brought a color wheel by and asked if I would point out which ‘taupey-rose’ would best suit her home, and it took me about 50 seconds. I’ve agonized over the same color for myself. But then that’s one of the great things about painting. If you paint something and you don’t like it, you can paint over it. And, painting is the easiest and most economical way we can decorate our homes. It’s also a great way to entirely change the look and feel of a room.

Decorating Myth # 1: "In order to make your rooms look larger, you should paint everything white."

The truth is, when you want a room to appear larger, you should use a neutral color, since neutral colors visually "open up" spaces. The real question is: what’s a neutral color? Well, white is neutral, but every color in the spectrum has a neutral. Neutrals are light to medium in hue or color density. Neutrals can be any moderate shade of any color, period. Why paint? Painting your walls and ceilings provides a backdrop for everything else in your home. It is your blank canvas that cries for color, and color enhances your furniture and accessories.

Choose your favorite color and find the neutral of it on a paint swatch at the paint store, or if you have an item in that color, take it in and have the paint custom matched. Know the color in your mind, but can’t find it? Visit your favorite home improvement or paint store and have your color custom mixed. You can choose one-half strength or even one-quarter strength of a color; it can be and is commonly done among decorators. Just remember to keep a copy of your "recipe" for future reference, and buy all of your paint at the same time. And when painting with a custom color, always box your paint for best results. (Cross mix the cans for even color distribution before you start to paint!)

Today with the wide variety of paint colors available; you can have virtually any color that you can imagine. Selecting a color for your ceilings is important as well. Think of the ceiling as the 5th wall in your home.

Specialty moldings or wallpaper draw attention to the ceiling, so don’t neglect it. You may choose to paint the ceiling in either the wall color (which visually enlarges the space) or in a "mixed with a little white" of the wall color. If you’re brave (and I know you are) paint the ceiling in a complimentary color - just remember to choose a color with the same hue. For those of you with cathedral ceilings, hire someone to do the painting, but paint those ceilings. Deep, dark or jewel tone walls beg for a ceiling color.

Want to be sure the hue is the same value? Here’s how: When you look at a color wheel, notice that every color on the same page is simply a different shade of that color. This means that the third sample from the top on the blue swatch is the same hue as the third sample from the top on the red swatch. Following that premise, you can now choose a complimentary color to any color!

If you remember nothing else, remember that decorating has to be deliberate and purposeful. Someone who was attempting to make sure no one made a color error must have created the all white myth! If you are comfortable with white, then by all means choose it and use it, but be prepared to select from a wide array of "whites" - there are many. Just know that neutral colors visually enlarge space, and then pick your favorite!

In small rooms, furniture, accessories and wall colors become very important, and one of our next ‘Decorating Myths’ will address that. Come back and join us for more!