Non-Invasive Surgery


Horizontal stripes widen your waist and your walls. Your figure isn’t the only shape that can be distorted with colorful finishes; there are piles of covert instructions to make your home just as alluring as your hourglass anatomy. Give your space a little ‘nip and tuck’ with these simple non-invasive surgeries.

I’ll start off with a couple of basic and fundamental color definitions – warm versus cool. Warm colors are hues with an undertone of brown, red, orange, or yellow. Cool colors are hues with an undertone of grey, green, blue, or violet. Most colors are neatly categorized as warm or cool, but there are a handful of hues that purposely defy categorization. You may have heard of the ‘greige’ sensation – it’s a gorgeous hue that combines the best attributes of beige and grey (not warm, not cool, but hovering elegantly on middle ground).


Now that you know the basic ingredients, here they are – the rules you have been waiting for.

1. Warm colors advance.
2. Cool colors recede.
3. Light colors give the impression of larger and lighter.
4. Dark colors give the impression of smaller and heavier.

Practical Application and Pragmatic Advice

A wall painted with a warm, light color (soft butter cream yellow) will seem larger and closer to the viewer. Conversely, a wall painted with a dark cool color (deep navy blue) will appear smaller and farther away to the viewer. If you have a long, narrow room, paint the long walls a cool color and the narrow end walls a warm color – the room will appear more balanced and less awkward. These rules are not just for your walls; apply them to furniture, flooring, and ceilings for the same effect. If your dining room is blessed with a high ceiling, but your furniture and lighting are all minimal height, the room may feel overwhelming, incongruous or disproportionate. Paint the ceiling a warm, dark color (rich chocolate brown) to visually lower the height, creating an intimate room and synergy with the furnishings.


Armed with these rules, you can use an inexpensive material (paint) to offer luxurious results. Start by identifying your spatial features and which color category will best compliment the space. Select your paint color (and finish) and get started. Not sure which paint finish will best suite your space? Check out this paint finish guide.

(This vivid photography is from the portfolio of Irina Graewe; her talented lens captures bold color with grace.)

(For more information on the four rules, refer to John F. Pile’s book Interior Design).