A simple change in colour scheme can dramatically change a space, creating an environment that is experienced in a completely different way.

Original design: beige and creams, hints of colour.

Original design: beige and creams, hints of colour.

In a recent Architectural Digest story about designer Alexa Hampton’s bedroom in her Manhattan apartment, artistically layering sumptuous colour and textures completely transforms a too-bright room into a space that invites you to escape,  sink in and relax.

Deep receding tones and adjacent hues are perfect for anyone who wants to feel  enveloped in warmth. Hampton chose a luxurious deep plum wall covering by Gracie as her background canvass.

Deep, rich plum hues immediately reduce the room's energy.

Deep, rich plum hues immediately reduce the room’s energy.

Layered up from this rich colour base are carpets and a bed tester in a coordinated fabric.  Accents follow the classic lines the designer carried throughout her apartment, in keeping with the building’s architecture. The effect was created by simply changing out the wall treatment, tester and carpets, reusing the window treatments, art and furniture. Check out the full story here.

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Before shot of dark outdated tile surround, bland walls and dangerous position of a window air conditioner.

As calming as a dark palette can be, we often turn to calming sea colours to provide a spa like experience in a bathroom. A HGTV viewer completely changed the feel of her dark tiled, dated bath area to give it a light lift into the new century. I have to note here that the window air conditioner unit above the old tub is worrisome and removing it solved two problems. A pale sea green wall colour softens the entire space, while constructing a traditional wainscot and surround makes a style statement. rms_spatacular-tub-after_s3x4-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-966-1288Changing out the hardware, a very cost effective smart move for even the smallest renovation, updates and extends the style chosen. My mother had an obsession about keeping wood natural, never painting it. I don’t share her view on the subject, and we see the benefit of painting out old wood  here in the small window painted to coordinate with the wainscot and panelling in this renovation.  This makeover was done on a small budget of around $1,000 illustrating how cost effective but dramatic a small colour and decor change can be.

Since I mentioned natural and painted wood, let’s look at how a decision to go either way, or mix and match, defines a space.

Modern and bright atmosphere with white painted beams.

Modern and bright atmosphere with white painted beams.

In this first space, the combination of white painted beams and skylights makes for a bright and modern space, with natural wood making an appearance in a china cabinet and tables. As the beams disappear into the expanse of the ceiling, the height of the room is extended. The painted window and door trims makes for an easy on the eye transition to the outdoor space as well. The flooring appears to be slate or other natural stone, which brings another organic, grounding element into the space.

Keystone renovation mixes it up: painted ceiling and dark wood posts and floor.

Keystone renovation mixes it up: painted ceiling and dark wood posts and floor.

In most spaces, all natural or all painted wooden surfaces are overwhelming. I’m a huge fan of breaking it up and mixing natural and painted surfaces. This example from Keystone Projects Ltd. shows a perfect balance with coffered painted ceiling, window and door frames and natural wood floor, posts and fireplace wall. The neutral wall colour strikes a balance, bridging painted and natural elements.

Another Keystone Project with dramatic ceiling beams.

Another Keystone Project with dramatic ceiling beams.

This sitting room’s dark stained beams accentuate the room shape and ceiling height. An elegant entertainment area, the beams create a cozy and inviting space while providing a transitional style on which to base furnishings. Note the light colour rug, a good choice to pick up on the wall colour and break up the dark wooden floors and beams.

Keystone's modern rustic beams keep things light.

Keystone’s modern rustic beams keep things light.

A subtle colour palette is created with light wood beams that describe the uncovered wooden pitch of the ceiling. Blending with the  river stone focal wall and neutral painted trims, a modern rustic lodge atmosphere is achieved. Window treatments, flooring and creamy toned furniture are drawn from the colours in the stone wall.