Living room painted to look bigger with monochromatic colors

We've all dreamed of a bigger bedroom or perhaps a larger living room or den. Adding extra space isn't always an option. However, creating the illusion of a larger room is. A clever application of the right paint and the right colors can easily and inexpensively make a room look and feel larger — all without changing a single foot of floor space. Best of all, it can be done by almost anyone in just one weekend.

Choose Paint Color Wisely

Neutral bedroom with wood-paneled headboard to ceiling

Choosing your paint color is the most fun and creative part of your painting project, but it can also be overwhelming due to all the paint color options available. Pair that with the fact that the colors you choose can drastically change its atmosphere and it all may seem like too much to contemplate. The way we perceive color can be very personal and emotionally charged. Colors can make us feel calm or energized, happy or sad, edgy or relaxed. They can affect the mood of a room, making it seem open and airy or small and cozy.

Small, brightly lit bedroom painted white

Cozy, dark gray bedroom

There are simple rules to keep in mind. Generally, dark colors can make spaces feel smaller or cozy, while light and neutral colors can make rooms feel larger and more open. In addition, the amount of light in a room can radically affect how paint color appears, which can also affect its perceived size. If you want to use several colors in your room, it will appear larger if you choose hues of the same intensity, no matter if they're pale or bright. To determine similar intensity, look for colors similarly positioned on their individual color swatch cards . This creates the illusion of space because similar levels of saturation seem to flatten out, with no distracting focal points to spoil the effect.

Small studio apartment with black, gray and white color

Another effective space-creating choice is a monochromatic color scheme, which uses different tints and shades of one color family, like light, medium and dark blue. To heighten the effect, paint trim and doors to match the walls, and add matching tone-on-tone fabrics and textures to your furnishings. Warm colors, like red, orange and yellow, are the colors of sunshine and fire. These hues advance (come forward) so walls feel closer and rooms feel smaller. A better choice is to use cool colors, like the blue, green and violet of water and ice. These colors seem to recede or move away, making rooms seem larger and more open. However, if you have your heart set on a yellow (warm colored) room, select a washed out tint. Small, square rooms look larger if you paint two opposite walls the same color, especially one that's deep and dark. Why? The intensity of color will create depth in the room and visually open up its dimensions. And remember, every room will look larger if it's brightly lit (even artificial light does the trick).

Dramatic recessed windows lighting living room

Small studio apartment with glass partition and accent wall

Remember, the experts at your local True Value hardware store are available to offer professional color advice, tips, and answers to all of your questions. He or she will also recommend the tools you need to do a quality job, as well as the True Value EasyCare® paint that best suits your project needs.

Paint the Room

Now…the actual work. It’s time to put paint to brush and transform your space. You need to properly prepare the room and the surfaces before you start. Don’t forget to prime for best results and clean up properly afterwards.

Step 1: Prepare the Room

Remove the furniture from the room or place it in the center and cover it with drop cloths or tarps. Place drop cloths or tarps on the floor and remove window coverings, switch plates and outlet covers. Use painter's tape to protect windowsills, baseboards, door hinges and the ceiling perimeter.

Step 2: Clean & Repair Walls

Use a sponge or cloth to wipe down your walls with mild detergent and water. Allow the surface to dry. If your walls have cracks, holes or other damage, apply spackling compound or acrylic caulk with a putty knife. Sand with fine sandpaper once it dries. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on application and drying times.

Step 3: Prime

Apply True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer with a brush or roller. First, pour the primer into a paint tray and coat your roller. Paint widthwise in 6-ft. square sections, using a zigzag pattern of overlapping "W" strokes. Move from right to left, then left to right, spreading evenly with horizontal strokes.

Apply less pressure to the edges of the already painted areas to eliminate overlapping lines between each section. To ensure even coverage, use light strokes to re-roll from the bottom to the top of each wall. If your paint has a flat finish, you don't need to blend. Otherwise, paint over the entire surface (for very large areas, do two square sections at a time) with one-directional, overlapping, non-diagonal strokes once again.

Safety Alert!

Open the windows to make sure you'll be priming and painting in a well-ventilated area.

Don’t forget to also prime the ceiling. You will be painting the ceiling as well in the next step.

Step 4: Paint

Start with the ceiling. Mask the perimeter of the ceiling with painter's tape where it meets the walls. Dip the roller in a paint tray filled with True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Ceiling Paint. Roll it back and forth in the shallow end to get rid of excess paint. Begin rolling out 6-ft. square sections on the ceiling. Use a series of overlapping "W" strokes from right to left, then back from left to right using horizontal strokes. Use a small paintbrush to cover wherever the roller can't reach. You may need to apply a second coat of paint depending on color and coverage. The ceiling should dry in a few hours.

Pour EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Paint into the paint tray and coat your roller. Paint widthwise in 6-ft. square sections, using a zigzag pattern of overlapping "W" strokes. Move from right to left, then left to right, spreading evenly with horizontal strokes.

Paint a second coat, using the same method.

Use a brush, coated with 1” of paint, to do wall brushwork in areas your roller can't reach, like the corners and next to the doors, windows and molding.

Step 5: Clean Up

You're almost done! Pick up your drop cloths or tarps and close up your paint cans. Dispose of used paint cans appropriately. Cleaning paint brushes and other tools can be made easy with warm, soapy water. Thoroughly rinse your roller covers and brushes in water until the water runs clear, then place them in a brush/roller spinner, if you have one, to remove excess liquid. Store in their protective sleeves or hang them on nails or hooks. Pick up drop cloths carefully, making sure you don't spread around any paint that may have gotten on them. Next, remove painter's tape at a 45-degree angle to avoid removing any fresh paint. Remember that the longer the tape stays on, the harder it is to remove.

That’s all there is to it! With just some paint and a bit of color know-how, your rooms now look a little more majestic.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.