DESIGN RECIPES Adding color without a single brushstroke — Kent, Ravenna & Portage County Ohio

DESIGN RECIPES Adding color without a single brushstroke - Kent, Ravenna & Portage County Ohio

DESIGN RECIPES: Adding color without a single brushstroke

By Cathy Hobbs | McClatchy-Tribune Published: September 12, 2014 4:00AM

Pick the number one fear factor of many homeowners and it is often the dreaded five-letter word c-o-l-o-r.

Many people are simply terrified to stir the brush in that good old can of paint and actually put color on the walls.

Here are some ways to add color to a room without a single brushstroke.

Blank canvas

When it comes to creating the perfect color palette, there is no foundation as pure and timeless as white. White and off-white are the ideal blank slates for creating virtually any color scheme you desire.

Paint your walls with a base coat of white and allow the color inspiration to flow.

Getting started

Don’t know where to begin? I suggest starting by selecting neutral-colored upholstery pieces like sofas and chairs, then add loads of color through the use of accents such as toss pillows, artwork, vases and even rugs.

Next, use a technique called color mapping in which you repeat or «map» two or three colors from your color palette and repeat them throughout an entire space.

Using black and white

From Dorothy Draper to today’s modern décor, black and white is a timeless color combination that will always be in style and is even making a comeback. Black and white are the ultimate neutrals that can be paired with any color you can imagine.

Layer your color by using tints, tones and shades of black and white. For example, gray is a tint of the color black (achieved by adding white) and taupe is a shade of white (achieved by adding brown).

White as a color

Dare to use white as an accent color. Instead of viewing the color white as a «filler» color, incorporate it into your design.

Not sure what color to pair with the color white? White especially looks good with deep, contrasting colors such as chocolate brown, navy blue or hunter green. Try colors such as Java 2106-10, North Sea CC-932, or Rainforest Foliage 2040-10 respectively, all by Benjamin Moore.

When it comes to white, white walls can add just the accent you need to make your space colorful without picking up a single paintbrush.

Overall dos and don’ts


1. Begin with furniture pieces upholstered in neutral fabrics such as black, charcoal gray or beige.

2. Accessorize using bold colors or graphic prints.

3. Select a signature bold furniture accent piece and build a color palette around it.

4. Consider black and white as potential bold color statements.

DESIGN RECIPES Adding color without a single brushstroke - Kent, Ravenna & Portage County Ohio

5. Bring color into your décor through accent pieces, including artwork and accessories.

6. Consider using cool colors, such as blue, green and gray in a space that you want to visually enlarge.

7. Use warm colors, such as yellows, oranges and browns, in a space you want to feel cozy.


1. Tie yourself into one shade of a bold color; consider tints and tones of the same color.

2. Be afraid to layer various shades of a color in a space.

3. Use colors that are too grayed down or muted.

4. Use colors that are too warm in small rooms — it can make a room look smaller.

5. Be afraid to «go bold.»

6. Paint the ceiling a color; it will automatically close in a space.

Cathy Hobbs is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at

MCT Information Services

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