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The New Rules In Interior Design
Consider bolder hues in smaller spaces and more

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November 2016

Forget the conventional wisdom that small spaces appear larger only when awash in light colors.

Today’s expertise suggests almost anything goes. DIY website Design*Sponge recently posted, “The main purpose of a fresh white coat of paint in a small room may be to make the room appear larger, but the fact is that a dark color can do the same thing — although in a different way.”

That wisdom is shared by two local design professionals: Magdaline Benson, owner of Bergson Interiors Ltd. in Dousman, and Cathy Kaczmarczyk, lead in-home color consultant for Sherwin-Williams.

Personal Preferences

Each client, these pros say, varies in taste and willingness to experiment.

“You don’t lose an inch using any color,” Benson says. “We use a lot of color in our work. A more dramatic color can be effective in a powder room or a similar small space you don’t spend a lot of time in.

“(Dramatic color) can be a good backdrop for artwork or a mirror too,” she continues. “Using strong color in specific places can provide a dramatic effect in a home that may be mostly done in neutral colors.”

Kaczmarczyk agrees. “You can go bold in those areas where people don’t hang out, like a foyer,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to do something a little different and make a space look less stark.”

Beyond Different

Both experts say dark colors actually expand small spaces by blurring a room’s lines.

“Every time your eye stops it defines a space,” Benson says, “so you want the eye to continue.” That’s the reason she also favors painting a ceiling the same color as the walls.

Kaczmarczyk’s opinion differs slightly, offering the possibility of painting two shorter walls of a room a different color than the longer walls, but she agrees that the trend of painting trim and walls the same color tends to extend the height of a room.


Benson and Kaczmarczyk advocate adding touches of texture to those dark spaces with wall coverings, tin ceilings and other hardscapes.

“There are a number of ways to balance the room,” Benson says. “That may be with furniture and other pieces, such as art.”

“You can paint a radiator or even furniture to complement and contrast the room’s colors,” Kaczmarczyk adds.

Color Choices

What’s hot in bold colors? The selection is wide, ranging from apple green — which Benson says is a good choice for those who don’t want to go too dark — to various blues, including navy, dark grays and even black, a suggestion from Kaczmarczyk.

The same color may display differently in natural or enhanced lighting. Benson says the worst thing a client can do is to view a store sample outside, as the color will never be in full sunlight.

Final Word

“My advice is, ‘If you are uncomfortable, don’t do it,’” Benson says.

Kaczmarczyk shares that thought. “Every one of my clients is different,” she notes. “It’s their choice, but if you don’t like something, paint is easy and inexpensive to change.”


This story ran in the November 2016 issue of: