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Pro Tips for Updating Your Home with Paint and Wallpaper

A change of season often calls for an update that breathes new life into your space and transforms the feeling of your home. There is no easier—or more affordable—way than treating your walls to a fresh coat of paint or a hit of patterned wallpaper.

A woman wearing a navy and red plaid shirt with some paint smudged on her cheek is holding a roll of beige and grey wallpaper in her hands. Part of the roll is unrolled and being held up against a wall.

Paint and wallpaper are both great ways to add depth, colour and texture to your home. “How you treat the walls in your space should be driven by your personality and the architecture of the home,” says designer Samantha Pynn of HGTV Canada’s Save My Reno. “The goal is to enhance what you’ve got in a livable way.”

Though refreshing your walls may seem like a daunting and massive undertaking, you can save time and money by doing it yourself. Here are some tips from the pros to get you started.

Trending colours

A woman with dark hair wearing a long white button up shirt is standing in front of a pinkish beige wall. There is a beige vase next to her with some leaves and other greenery in it. She is holding a small tea light. There is a larger, leafy plant on the ground behind her.

Unlike fashion, where trends come and go quickly, the turnover of ideas in home decor is slower, and a colour can stay popular for many years. A colour’s popularity is a reflection of consumer attitudes, driven by what’s going on in the world. So what impact is Covid-19 having?

“Beige is back! Our global colour stylists in 11 regions unanimously agree, and this is a huge shift from the grey that has dominated for quite a few years,” says Amy Donato, PPG senior colour marketing manager for Dulux Paints. “Warm neutrals like beige are comforting, and part of the residual effect of the Covid-19 pandemic is that people are seeking solace within their homes and painting in soothing colours as a result.”

Undertones of red and pink will produce a more modern beige, versus beige with yellow undertones, which was popular about 20 years ago.

Other trendy colours are green, aqua and blue. People want to add natural elements to their homes, and this desire has been amplified by the pandemic. “They’re stuck inside, so they want to bring the outside in. Nature is hugely influential right now,” Donato says. This could mean choosing a deep shade reminiscent of a lush forest, or a bright teal that reminds us of the ocean.

Pink is also riding a new wave, being the colour of compassion and kindness. Not quite rose quartz, the Pantone shade that spawned millennial pink, today’s popular hues have a warm undertone. Cinnamon Diamonds, a mid-tone rosy beige, is a cozy neutral and Donato’s favourite.

Different ways to experiment with paint

A seating area with a circular white table. There are two blush pink chairs on one side of the table, and on the other is a white banquet with an assortment of decorative pillows. Behind it is a white wall with a painted round pink circle.

Paint is the most cost-effective way to add an element of design and visual interest to a space. With more people working from home and carving out makeshift offices, Donato suggests painting a feature wall in a contrasting colour behind your desk, to help delineate a work zone.

Another design technique? Colour blocking. Consider painting the lower half of a wall in a darker shade or adding geometric shapes. Create dramatic focal points on a budget with a painted archway or a faux headboard. These features are a great way to use leftover paint from another project. It’s also a way for those who prefer white walls to add a splash of colour.

After years of standard white trim, colour is also taking centre stage when it comes to panelling, moulding and doors. Consider painting your trim, doors and walls in the same colour for a dramatic effect and to make the space feel larger. A subtle difference in the finish—matte walls and eggshell trim, for example—can add just the right amount of textural interest.

Pro tips for choosing a paint colour

With so many options, choosing paint colours can be overwhelming. To ease that process, “Think about what kind of mood you want to create in your space,” Donato says. “Colour choice should be driven by how you want to feel in the room. Tranquil? Cozy? Energized? Those are all good places to start when choosing colours.”

For instance, greys can have a quiet, grounding effect that is perfect for a home office, while blues offer tranquility.

Because paint is an inexpensive change to make in a room, consider using it to tie together other design elements. Select finishes, furniture and rugs that you love first, and then use paint to make your design choices look more purposeful.

Pynn suggests looking through online magazines and social media to pull together an assortment of spaces you love. “Take screen captures of the rooms you can imagine yourself living in,” she says. “Then go back and look at the common threads running through your collection. Are there a majority of white rooms? Blue rooms? Stick with what you actually love, not with what you think you should do.”

Pynn also advises painting test swatches of your top few choices on walls to make sure you still like the way they look in your space and with your lighting.

Consider wallpaper to liven up a space

A bed made up with a white comforter and four white pillows with a small table next to it. There are three books on the stand as well as a small white vase with a single leaf in it. Behind the bed is a wallpaper with a leaf motif on it.

The world of wallpaper has flourished in the past decade, offering endless choice at any budget and multiple design options. As people become more comfortable with the idea of wallpaper, they’re more inclined to make bold choices.

When it comes to dramatic colours and patterns, try wallpapering a small space, like a powder room, where there aren’t a lot of other design elements to consider.

Creating a feature wall with wallpaper and a harmonious paint colour on adjacent walls is another way to help delineate zones in your home.

Consider saving some budget for professional installation, especially if you’re investing in more expensive paper, or experiment with peel-and-stick wallpaper if you’re afraid to commit. Self-adhesive wallpaper has come a long way, and the latest options won’t damage your walls. These wallpapers are a bit more forgiving when it comes to installation, as they’re often removable and repositionable.

Whether you opt for a muted hue, a punch of colour or splash out with a bold print, paint and wallpaper don’t have to be permanent changes in your home. Walls can be easily painted over to change the look and feel of a room. So go ahead and have fun with your walls.

Add wow to your walls

CAA Members can save 25% and earn 3% in CAA Dollars® when they shop at Dulux Paints.

Image credit: Wavebreak Media/offset, HGTV, Stocksy/ALBERTO BOGO, Bouclair