Paint Schemes and Two-Tone Techniques

Painting is an easy and affordable home improvement project.
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Builder's beige is no longer cutting it. It's time to turn your place into Your Place, and there's nothing like a coat of paint to give a fresh look. Rather than simply turning your room into a box of another color, get expressive and use two tones of paint for a distinctive, custom look.

Complimentary Colors

Choosing which two colors to use may be the hardest part of the process. Paint chip racks can be overwhelming, but many manufacturers print coordinated chips with samples of different colors side by side to give you ideas for mixing and matching. Online color wheels are another resource to explore a variety of color-matching methods. Big-box stores often have employees with painting experience on staff, and dedicated paint stores can offer suggestions based on your ideas.

Shades of One Color

A simple way to avoid creating a combination you can't stand, or to exploit your favorite color in a distinctive way, is to use two shades of the same color. If you really like blue, try pairing light blue with dark blue accents. Paint tinting uses neutral density colors of white, gray and black to alter how light or dark a batch of paint is, so you can have an accent paint mixed that matches in color, but is darker or lighter than your main tone. You can choose two colors from the same paint strip to ensure the tones look good together.

Single-Wall Technique

One way to approach two-tone paint schemes without overreaching your painting skills is the single-wall method. Choose one color for three walls of the room and cover the fourth wall in an accent shade. This technique lends itself well to both complimentary and two-shade schemes. Consider this when you wish to feature a wall or minimize a proportion of the room. Painting a darker color on a short wall in a long, narrow room helps reduce the bowling alley effect.

Split-Wall Technique

Dividing a room horizontally requires greater skill with masking but creates a polished, elegant effect. This dramatic style also works with both two-tone methods, and it is generally best when the strongest or darkest shade is on the bottom. Save time with the masking and hide the seam between the colors by adding molding or a complimentary wallpaper border around the perimeter of the room. This is another way to bring in color and visual interest.

Faux Finishes

The granddaddy of two-tone paint techniques, faux finishes can give your room a high-end appearance with careful color choices and appropriate decor. Marbleizing, ragging, leather and suede effects, feathering and similar techniques use a base coat that is applied conventionally and then a topcoat using a paint additive called glaze. Rags, feathers, plastic wrap, specialty brushes and other tools create different end results. Practice your effect on a board before tackling an entire wall or room. A subtle faux finish can also be incorporated in a split-wall or single-wall design plan.

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