Like us, our living spaces need some TLC from time to time. You know, that extra touch of glamor, something dramatic to flaunt, a fresh new look with which to win hearts this season… Changing furniture layouts and buying new upholstery is one way to go, but nothing matches the joy of a fresh coat of paint. The only catch is - who has the time to paint? Well luckily, with a little understanding of color blocking, you can get all the drama and dynamism of impeccably painted walls, with a fraction of the effort involved in painting.
First of all, let’s understand what color blocking your walls means. Essentially, it involves dividing the available space into segments that are then articulated using “blocks” of contrasting or complementary colors. The origin of this approach is often associated with Dutch painter Mondrian’s artwork. It has also trended for decades in fashion, because specific arrangements of colors have the ability to make silhouettes appear taller or slimmer. The principle of color blocking the walls of your home is pretty much the same. Various visual effects can be created using certain combinations and proportions of contrasting hues.
Let’s look at a few ways to color block your walls
1. Make doors and windows stand out
In art, as it is in architecture and design, the secret to a certain visual effect often lies in the negative spaces. When you want a color blocking effect for your walls, one of the simplest ways is to paint your doors, windows and woodwork in a different color. This could be a contrasting bold color like indigo, or just a slight tonal or temperature variation from the wall color itself. Add contrasting furniture with vibrant monochrome upholstery, and your color blocking is complete!
2. Take inspiration from artwork or furniture
Deciding upon a color scheme can be difficult, which is why pros often recommend working backwards from a single accessory. A painting, for example, could become the inspiration that gets you started. If it primarily features two or three colors, you can choose one of them for your walls, another for your flooring, and the third for your furniture. The same could be done with a cushion, rug or carpet. Color blocking your walls this way is a safe bet, because the color combination is already tested and established as visually appealing.
3. Settle it with stripes
Striped or checkered patterns are a clever way to get your wall color blocking in place without much effort. You can paint yourself a striped wall using masking tape and a tape measure. Or you can take a shortcut by covering one or more walls in striped wallpaper. You can then source upholstery and accessories using the wallpaper’s color tones as your inspiration.
4. Detail it out
When you think about color blocking your living space, are you limiting yourself to the most prominent stretches of blank wall in the room? Color blocking can also be achieved by treating the overall structure of the room as one entity, and the finer details as another. For example, you could have an all-white or monochrome kitchen where the cabinetry and shelving are all a single color, and then introduce a vibrant backsplash to color block the space. Painting the backs of your shelves or storage units, or covering them in small quantities of peel and stick wallpaper, will also do the trick.
5. Use patterns to break the ice
It’s sometimes overwhelming to look at a large space articulated using only two bold or three bold colors. Natural elements like houseplants or woven accents can serve as the bridge between these colors, softening the sharp contrast somewhat, and adding a welcoming touch that keeps the space from becoming too grandiose or overbearing.
6. Play with the color wheel
Color blocking your walls can be great fun if you have a general understanding of the color wheel. Complementary colors, which are diametrically opposite each other on the wheel, are great at infusing a space with vibrancy and energy. When used as color blocks, they’re perfect for informal lounges, kids’ rooms, and other family spaces.
Different notes of the same color can also be blocked together to create a rich, layered effect. For example, a barely-there blue ceiling, along with pale blue walls and a darker floor could be used to add the illusion of extra height. Similarly, wooden flooring, light beige walls, and monochrome white furniture can work together to create a sense of depth while keeping the space structured and balanced.
No matter what approach you take to color blocking your walls, one thing’s for sure - it’s great fun! Roll up your sleeves, break out those paint cans, and get set for your DIY color blocking project. Or save time by starting out with a striped or geometric peel and stick wallpaper from our PVC-free, safe-for-kids collection.