A bare wall to a homeowner or interior designer is like a blank canvas to an artist - the options to create are endless. Gone are the days when you were restricted to either white paint or gaudy wallpaper. Today, you can colorize with peaceful or bold hues, create original designs using texturizing techniques like rag-painting or sponging, or cover your walls in fabrics that range from the simple to the luxurious. All it takes is a plan, some creativity, and an estimated budget.
Obviously, the more you are willing to spend, the more you can do with the walls in your home or common areas, but even the most modest of budgets can usually afford to add some color. If you want to escape from white and add a splash of paint, there are now a myriad of colors to choose from. Want to match the quilt that your grandmother gave you when you were little? Today, home improvement stores and many interior design firms have photo spectrometers; computer devices that read a swatch and actually create the color for you - even antique colors - as closely as possible by mixing already existing colors.
Technology sometimes can't beat the human eye for a match, however. "We've matched the color of a stick of butter, and even the color of people's animals," says Brian Taylor, zone manager of Sherwin-Williams Paint Company in the Bronx, "but we do it by eye, not computer. We believe the eye will get it closer than a computer will."
While planning your project, Taylor suggests that you determine not just what you like, but what you are trying to achieve in the space. "Decide whether you want to add color to lighten up a room, or [to match] your new tile or furniture, or if you want to create an illusion on the walls." If you don't want to cover or color every wall of a room, consider treating just one wall as an accent. In a living room, this might be the wall with the fireplace. In the bedroom, it might be the wall behind your bed.
Different treatments and textures allow you to create optical illusions and add interest or luxury. "For example, there's a very soft, textured look called "˜Sandscape' that's easy to apply and gives you a sueded-look to the wall," says Taylor. "There are also metallic-finish illusions." To add depth, try accenting one wall with color and a wallpaper border or, if you're decorating a bedroom, match the color to the bedspreads and curtains.