Solutions: Color in small ways leads to big impact

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

I’ve often said I love color — in other people’s homes. The same holds true for an abundance of patterns and other lively applications. For those who are hesitant to feature bold strokes in their homes, it’s possible to add pops of color and pattern to your rooms without going overboard.

In this case, location is key. Start small with a playful wallpaper remnant adhered to the inside of a tray, or a bookcase or cabinet to highlight a collection of vintage dishes or ceramic figures.

While paint may be an obvious choice for some, you don’t have to envelop an entire space in a vibrant shade that can become tiring over time. Experimenting with a classic diamond pattern on the floor or a subtle hue on the ceiling can enhance your environment without being too noticeable because you don’t focus on these surfaces as much as the walls.

Another visual trick that doesn’t require a big commitment is painting your interior window trim black for a dramatic statement, or adding an unexpected color to one or both sides of an interior door.

The front door is the perfect place to play with a shade that takes you out of your comfort zone because you don’t see it all the time.

Accent pieces offer another way to wake up your surroundings with patterned pillows and rugs that are easier to rotate and replace than carpet and furniture.

Even smaller accessories can make a colorful statement in a room. For instance, all it takes is a few decorative storage boxes on a nightstand or side table to add some life to a neutral environment.

Abstract artwork can do wonders for a space with white walls, while an upholstered headboard creates a welcoming focal point for a bland bedroom.

High-gloss spray paint offers an affordable update for more traditional furniture, making a family heirloom more current.

Still, you can refurbish your furniture in more ways than one. Covering the front of a dresser with a graphic poster is one of the many DIY projects you’ll find through online sources, design books and shelter magazines.

Another way to add a bit of drama without going all the way is to frame a piece of fabric or wallpaper for an attractive accent that’s easy to alter.

You can also introduce a classic pattern in small doses with iconic animal prints that can be found on everything from furniture and rugs to accessories.

Rather than paint your dining room walls, consider some colorful seat cushions for your chairs that might inspire a more daring move down the road.

Or, you can reupholster an ottoman in another room to distinguish it from a coordinating chair for more interest.

When you start small with color and pattern, there’s no telling where this decorating experiment may take you when creating a more invigorating aesthetic. Before you know it, you might find yourself craving more of the same in bigger ways in and around your home.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at