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Home Decorating Secrets: Create an Illusion With Color and Pattern

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In home decorating there are often times when it's necessary to create an illusion. You may be trying to make a small room feel larger, or make a spacious room feel more welcoming. Sometimes, you need to make a short ceiling feel less closed-in and claustrophobic, or bring an oversized ceiling down to a comfortable level. When this is the case, it's time to pull out some color and pattern tricks from the vault of home decorating secrets.

Think about the clothing you wear and how certain colors and patterns are more flattering than others. Many of the same guidelines you follow to pick out figure-flattering clothes can be implemented in home decorating. For example, wearing a shirt with small thin stripes will make a person look slimmer than large bold stripes. By wearing dark colored clothing, one will look thinner than if they wear light-colored clothing. Continue thinking in these terms, and you'll begin to understand how you can create an illusion at home with color and pattern placement.

Here's how to use color and pattern placement to create a desired illusion:

Give the illusion of space in a small room - Light colors work best in a small room, as they recede and give the illusion of a larger space. Avoid chopping up the walls with wallpaper border or molding, as this will only draw attention to the small size of the room. Give the appearance of longer wall space by painting the ceiling a bright white, as this draws the eye upward and away from the actual room size

Open up a confined area - Dark colors advance into a room, while light colors recede away. Thus, if you have an extremely confined area, you can help to open it up with light paint colors. Dark carpeting will also make a room feel smaller than it is, so it will help if you have light colors there, as well.

Bring down a too-tall ceiling - A room with a high ceiling may sound like a blessing, but it can actually make the room feel empty and cold. To deal with this issue, you can start by painting the ceiling a dark color. This will advance the ceiling downward and give the illusion of a cozier space. You can also paint a large stripe pattern a few feet below ceiling height to help give the appearance of a lower ceiling.

Give the illusion of a taller ceiling - Make a low ceiling feel taller by adding light-colored vertical stripes to the wall. These stripes should run the entire wall length, not just a portion of it. In other words, don't paint or wallpaper half the wall, as this will serve to chop the wall up and enhance a low ceiling. If stripes aren't your thing, simply leave the walls one light color and paint the ceiling the same.

Make a long room feel shorter - An awkward space can be difficult to decorate. One of the trickiest layouts is a long, narrow room. Give the illusion of a normal-sized space by painting one wall a deep color. This will bring that one wall in, and make the room look shorter.

Make a hallway feel taller - A closed-in hallway can feel unwelcoming, which is especially concerning if the hallway is in the entry way. To make the space feel taller, install molding at chair rail height. Paint the space beneath the chair rail a dark color, and add a lighter color above.

Make a short room seem longer - Make the space underfoot feel longer with a striped carpet runner. Position the runner so that it runs the length of the room, and watch how you achieve the illusion of a longer space.

Make a room feel wider - Lay floor tiles diagonally to make a narrow room feel wider. If new flooring isn't an option, consider painting a diamond pattern at a diagonal, instead.

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