Home » home decor » Small space living pt.3-opening up your space with paint color and texture

Small space living pt.3-opening up your space with paint color and texture

Welcome to part three of the series on small space living, today we are going to talk about opening up your space with paint color!!

You can see part one here and part two here.

small space living pt 3

When it comes to setting the mood in a room, opening up your space with paint color and texture can be huge. Even though experts claim dark colors don’t necessarily make a room look smaller, I think it can visually make us feel like it’s either cozier or more expansive, especially when mixed with furniture placement. Lighter paint has a greater light  reflective value (LRV) than darker paint and the sheen and tint also have a big impact on LRV . According to Sherwin-Williams when selecting paint for it’s LRV:

“Lighter tinted paints have higher light reflectance values than darker ones. So, for a recessed nook off a main room, painting the walls in a lighter tint of the color used in the main room would lighten up the area while still maintaining a sense of flow and coordination.

Another paint characteristic that affects color and light is gloss level. The higher the gloss level, the higher the light reflectance – more light will bounce off a surface painted with a high gloss paint than one with a matte sheen. As a rule, higher gloss paints tend to enrich and brighten color.”

While this isn’t  a problem if you find a color you love and you’re in your home for good. It could be a problem if you are going to try to list your home for sale and want to make it appear as big and bright as possible.

Here are a few examples of the same room with a dark color and a light color. One of the benefits of being  a home decor/lifestyle blogger is that with 8 years of a frequently changing home, there are actually documented examples of moving from dark to light as the styles change.

Home listing picture 2000

In fact, here is the listing picture from our home in 2000. The dining area is 17 x 11. Not huge, but not teeny either.

DIning area painted red

We painted it a deep red. It had a very cozy, cave like feel to it, furniture placement is almost the same.

dining room

 The next color was a deep mustard. It still felt cozy, but closed in, and not much was going on in the walls either.

Slightly lighter paint

This next color believe it or not was a lighter yellow, but it still had an all day darkness about it.

board and batten on the walls

That is actually the same yellow on top, but we just added the board and batten with the white. The Board and batten gave it a nice cottage feel and added texture to the walls.

Both pictures were taken during the day in natural light. Isn’t the difference crazy? How much more open and expansive it is? Much of the furniture is even the same and in the same place.

casula sitting area

Finally, we repainted the top color. But it still feels light and bright. Color is everything with how a space appears. Also by adding the bold print curtains it makes the windows pop.

There is also nothing wrong with dark colors if that’s what you like, but if you are looking for something to look more expansive, such as when you are selling a home, it will show much better with lighter colors, and can seem just as cozy.

Adding texture to your space with soft goods such as curtains and pillows can have a huge impact as well and completely change the mood and feel.

Here are two pictures taken from the same angle, same couch.

Fall livingroom decor

No rug and the white drapes with a simple pattern makes the area appear cleaner and less fussy.

bohemian living room

Drapes that are more heavily patterned and a colorful rug, make the same space feel cozier.

All of these things can play into the feel of your room and how much space it seems to have.

Even in a kitchen -the difference between light and dark cabinets.

Dark oak cabinets before painting

Can open up a space and make it seem even more welcoming. Many people have the misconception that white can be too sterile, but it really depends on what you have in the room that determines how cozy and welcoming it is (and that’s where texture comes in!).

White painted kitchen cabinets and brass hardware for an updated painted kitchen look


Color can do everything to set the mood in your space. If you find your not happy with  a space in your home, maybe it’s time for a color change!

If you like this post you might also like:

small space living part four

favorite Benjamin Moore paint colors

ben moore paint

How to mix your own custom paint color.

You can custom mix your own paint colors

new kitchen paint color

A mix of Benjamin moore coastl fog and Tapestry beige


  1. Wow – your timeline of wall colors was totally my home during that time frame! Right now, I too, have gone lighter and brighter and love it! You can always add pops of color with accessories and it’s easier to change things out with lighter colors! Thanks so much for this series – I, too, live in a smaller home and make it work for our family!

  2. Ha! I remember when we all had at least one red wall in our homes. And now we can’t stand it. Makes me wonder if we’ll look back on our homes in a few years and wonder, “paint everything white? what were we thinking?” But for now, lightness is what we all crave.

  3. I’ve really enjoyed this series Jen. I found it helpful even though my spaces aren’t really small. One of my 2015 home goals is an all over first floor paint change to lighter colors. Two of the images you pinned are very close to the color I’ve been envisioning, Benjamin Moore Tranquility and Benjamin Moore Quiet Moments. So, thank you for that!

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