Carol Sampson
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We have all made the classic mistake of selecting a paint color for our walls from a tiny 2-inch-by-1-1/2-inch paint chip on a long strip of descending hues. I’ll never forget my own classic paint color mistake.

In the early days of my career, I was designing model homes for a builder and on the third house I selected a bright pink color for a little girls room. The painter was instructed to paint all four walls a brilliant pink color from the tiny paint sample I gave him. The builder, several days after the painting was finished, asked me if I had seen the little girls room yet. A little hesitant, I said, “No, I was just going up to see it.” When I walked in, I was horrified to see that the bright pink was reverberating onto itself from each wall making the room scream with intense overbearing color. Needless to say, the painter was called for a painting emergency and immediately three walls were re-painted off-white. Since then, I’ve made very thorough and successful paint selections.

Painting is still the easiest way to change a room but it is an investment in time and money and no one wants to waste either. On the other hand, painting mistakes can be easily rectified.

Open floor plans with visibility stretching the length of the house are now our desired choice for interiors. Different paint colors in adjoining rooms that are unrelated can make the house feel chopped up and disjointed. The paint colors that can flow from room to room smoothly feels more harmonious and creates a pleasing flow.

If lots of color is your passion then you can achieve a harmonious flow by choosing one color to be the unifying thread that runs through every room. Varying the use and placement of one color for each room is the key in ensuring a cohesive feeling throughout the house. Using different amounts and applications of one color makes the home color scheme flow more smoothly.

For example, a pale green in the kitchen on all the walls gives a restful background for a room with lots of activity and cooking heat. The same green in a more intense hue for the living room on an upholstered sofa, pillows and accent pieces gives the room an elegant and sophisticated appearance. Flowing into the next room, say a bedroom or office by painting the trim in a medium green around the windows, doors and baseboards continues the visual flow from room to room.

The most neglected surface in the home for paint is the ceiling, which has been perpetually painted white and forgotten. A subtle but colorful ceiling gives character and adds a nice surprising atmosphere to an otherwise ignored space. An interesting ceiling can give any room style or piazzas.

Using darker colors on cathedral ceilings evokes a more intimate cozy feeling. For example, a mocha chocolate paint color in a satin finish or in an over-glaze still reflects light and gives a reflective sheen without overpowering the room. The glaze softens the color by adding shadows and interest giving a distinctively unique appearance to the room. A dark ceiling color with the walls in lighter tones sets off bold art work, bright accessories and great furnishings. If dark ceilings aren’t for you, try mid-tones, pastels or textured neutrals for your ceiling.

As a general rule and to balance the room, if wall colors are to be a warm color, then the ceiling needs to be a cooler color. Conversely, if wall colors are cool, choose a warm paint color for the ceiling even if it is a creamy warm white. This balancing of colors will keep everything interesting, flowing and creates a beautiful environment.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Carol Sampson is an award-winning interior designer and author of 35 years. Reach her at (480) 759-6763 or visit

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