8 Ways to Colour Your Home Without Paint

Can’t commit to colour on the walls? Skip the paint job and try these high-impact tricks instead.

Caroline Chin-Geyler
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Just because you’re living in a rental or don’t want to commit to a new paint job doesn’t mean you have to live in a drab home. There are plenty of ways to add bright, bold colour without whipping out the paintbrushes. I love colour, and I truly believe colour plays a big part in affecting your mood. My favourite colours to use at home are soothing blues and greens, but pops of yellow and red are choice colours to use in the living room and hallways as they quickly inject energy into a space.

Whether you’re a white-wall lover or just facing landlord restrictions, try out my tips below for new, hassle-free ways of bringing in new colours into your space. While Singapore doesn’t have four seasons in a year, don’t let that stop you from applying the colours of the season to uplift and refresh your home through artwork, rugs and accessories. And you don’t have to commit to a paint job overhaul!

1. Be bold with art
One of the simplest, fuss-free ways to add visual interest to a bare wall is to make a bold statement using an oversized piece of art or create a gallery wall of multiple frames. While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to displaying art, I like to use large works to create focal points in a room and smaller ones in places you can easily get up close to. Always mount your artworks behind UV-protected glass to prevent the piece from fading especially if they’re placed in areas flooded with sunlight.

TIP: Hang art at eye level so it can be enjoyed comfortably without the strain of looking up.


2. Lay down a vibrant area rug
A fun way to add colour is to use an area rug with bold patterns and hues. A well-chosen rug can be the perfect accessory to unite the colour scheme of an area, but take heed to keep the rest of your furniture neutral (with the exception of accent cushions) to allow the rug to take centerstage.

While rugs are a great way to layer the texture of a room, always consider the practicalities of cleaning, and keep family members in mind when making a shortlist of your choices. Having children or elderly members in the household means you’ll probably want to avoid shag rugs that might end up as tripping hazards. I like to use indoor/outdoor rugs in informal, high-traffic areas like the dining room or the children’s playroom because they’re easy to clean and come in highly saturated, boldly patterned options.


3. Add decorative cushions
If you’re not ready to invest in an area rug, use throw pillows to affordably experiment with colour, patterns, shapes, and textures. It’s particularly handy for sprucing up a neutral-toned sofa.

TIP: Always ensure your cushions are proportionately sized – small cushions on an ample couch will look very out of place.

When it comes to pillow arrangements, I tend to apply the “rule of threes” – clustering three cushions together feels stylishly effortless or opt for odd number placements. I only make exceptions for identical pillow pairings when going for a symmetrical, formal look.


4. Go wild with wallpaper
Wallpapering is a great way to inject energy and personality to your living space. It can make a room look larger, brighter and cooler, and affect the entire mood of the room.

Here are some pointers to help you pick out the right wallpaper:

  • For small rooms, pick a pattern that isn’t overly complicated to avoid overpowering the space. Alternatively, pick a wall to decorate instead of the entire room
  • Pay attention to colour as lighter backgrounds can make a room appear larger (and vice versa)
  • Vertical patterns will make a ceiling appear higher while horizontal patterns accentuate the width of the room
  • Don’t limit yourself to rich colours and bold prints; alternative wallcoverings include woven grass, wood grain, metallic and holographic finishes, etc.

Before committing to the restyle, always spend a couple of days with a sample of the wallpaper in the room where it will hang to get an actual feel of it – it’s not too late to change your mind!


5. Let your seating do the talking
If you’re decorating from scratch, a showpiece sofa is a good place to start. Make a bold statement with a couch upholstered in luxe, sumptuous, vividly coloured fabrics as a focal point of the room, which you can then decorate around.

If you’re adding a sofa to a room that’s already in a work-in-progress state, pick a tone that complements either the walls or floors to create unity and a consistent colour palette.


6. Spray paint wooden chairs
Take the coloured seating trend one step further and add a fresh touch to your dining area with wooden chairs painted in different colours.

Before spray painting the chairs, sand each piece thoroughly to get a smooth, even texture. I recommend topping with a coat of poly-acrylic to ensure the paint job holds up longer.


7. Spruce up with drapery
Never underestimate the power of the right curtains: they can literally transform your room from drab to fab. For spaces where solid, neutral colours dominate, feel free to experiment with bold, dramatic patterns – there’s no need to exercise restraint as long as colours you use are in harmony.

One of my favourite trends to borrow from the fashion runway and incorporate in styling projects is colour blocking. Keep things safe by picking colour combinations from within the same colour family, or work with different colour families by selecting several neutral bases and a vibrant shade for contrast. To pull the entire look together, choose accent pillows that match the colour of your curtains.

TIP: Hang panels higher than windows to lend a sense of height to the room.


8. Finish with plants
Finally, let nature work its magic – add some greenery to your living space. While we’re all for fresh blooms and real potted plants, the cost of maintaining a constant rotation of live plants can quickly add up.

You don’t need a green thumb to make this work: artificial flowers have come a long way from when they were considered tacky and a decorating faux pas. I prefer using potted white orchids for their elegance and blue hydrangeas for adding a striking pop of colour.