Buckets of paint and bold fabrics gave these once-neutral rooms a second chance to shine.
Sara Anderson

Spring means you get to start over, and we're not talking about just your flowerbeds. Right now, it's tempting to give your rooms a new look. But don't call the contractor yet. Gallons of paint and bursting-with-color fabrics transformed this home that had mostly neutral walls when the owners moved in. Learn paint tricks, and choose a new palette to kick up the color quotient in your house.

Salute to a Smart Mix
Nicole and Scot Burris's home in Austin is not huge--by Texas standards especially--but it packs a wallop of color. On the first floor alone, the rooms radiate orange, yellow, green, and blue. So how can such a medley of super-strength colors work together? "I think bright colors look better in small spaces," says Nicole. If you're painting each room a different hue, link them by using the same trimwork and ceiling color.

Secrets to Color Confidence
You can make any color combo work, as long as you follow a few simple rules. It's best to pick four or five colors to use throughout your house before you start painting. Make one color a neutral. Tape paint chips next to each other on a piece of paper, and decide which color will go on what walls. Look for ways to help rooms flow together. You could use the wall color of one room to paint a small piece of furniture in another, or pick pillows that have more than one color from your palette. It also helps to choose colors with the same intensity. If you like a shade in the middle of the paint strip, choose other colors that are also in the center of the strip.

Color Can Be Easy
Stand back as we bust a myth about neutrals: They're not really easier to work with than colors. Neutral shades can have strong undertones, such as red and green, that show up after the paint dries. If you've ever painted a wall white only to find that it looks poodle skirt pink the next day, you're not alone. All colors, from vanilla to navy blue, need to be tested in your house, in your light, before you commit. But don't worry. No matter what paints you purchase, you can always fill your home with new colors without emptying your wallet. "I love color, and for just a few dollars, a coat of paint can give your home a whole new look," says Nicole. We couldn't agree more.

Pages 100-102: Bedroom wall color is Thyme interior latex paint in subtle velvet wall finish from Restoration Hardware (R); bath wall color is Colonial Aqua (455-4) from Pittsburgh Paints; dining room wall color is Marigold (EB14-1) in satin finish from Eddie Bauer Home Collection, available at Lowe’s (R); living room wall color is Yorkshire Pudding (113-4) from Pittsburgh Paints.

"Revive With Color" is from the March 2006 issue of Southern Living.

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