It's the same room with the same furniture, just an updated paint color.

Updated February 27, 2020
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Credit: Janelle Jones

What do you do when you're bored of your living space and are ready for a change? Completely overhauling our furniture isn't an option for most of us, but that doesn't mean you have to stick with an outdated aesthetic. One of the easiest—and most affordable—ways to transform a room is with a fresh coat of paint. "Walls are a large surface area, anything you put on them is going to have a great impact on the mood and feel of the room," says Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services at Behr.

But before you select a bold, electric blue for your walls, think about the furniture pieces you own or are planning to invest in. "Consider the items you're bringing into a room before you start painting," advises Woelfel. "If you have a strong color area rug, or sofa I would suggest using a neutral on the wall." This allows your statement sofa or rug to pop and you don't have too many colors competing in the room. "Or, If you have neutral color sofa, consider using a brighter shade like a red to help it pop." Ultimately, you want a color that will complement your décor and work together seamlessly.

Another factor that will help narrow down your color choice is the flooring that's already in place. If you have dark floors consider going with a light color on the walls says Woelfel. "If you have light oak floors, you have more options with wall color." Finally, think about the type of mood you're creating before spinning the color wheel. Is it relaxing or energetic? Here, we painted a living room in three gorgeous and very distinct colors (using the same core furniture items) to show just how simple it is to create different looks by swapping paint and accessories.

Credit: Janelle Jones

Look One: Unexpected Color

If you're someone with a high demand job, constant deadlines, and are basically "on" all the time, consider turning your home into a retreat cocooned in soothing shades like Behr in the Moment. "Blue greens are calming and very versatile," says Woelfel. "Because both shades come from nature—whether it's gemstones, plants or tropical waters—they pair really well with natural wood tones." But this sanctuary isn't without style. To keep things modern, use metallic finishes like brass and brushed gold and frame art in sleek black frames. "Black helps blue and green feel sophisticated and crisp," says Woelfel.

Shop Now: Interior Define "Sloan" Sectional Sofa, $1800, interiordefine.com; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams "Vienna" Bookcase, $1550, mgbwhome.com; West Elm "Streamline" Coffee Table, $319, westelm.com; CB2 "Crane" Floor Lamp, $149, cb2.com; Judy Ross Textiles "Celine" Rug, $2500, judyrosstextiles.com; Garnet Hill Knit Cashmere Pillow in Aqua Mist, $98, garnethill.com; Aero Studios Geometeric Pillow, $150, aerostudios.com; Garnet Hill Knit Cashmere Throw in Heathered Gray, $298, garnethill.com; Aero Studios Finely Etched Boxes, from $475, aerostudios.com; Lori Wemple "Son" Painting, from $31, minted.com; Stephanie Nowotarski "Phosphenes 1" Print, from $31, minted.com.

Credit: Janelle Jones

Look Two: The New Neutral

Gray walls like this Behr Doeskin Gray have been trending for years now, and for good reason—they're gorgeous. If you're in the market for a modern version of everyone's favorite wall color, try one with warmer undertones, suggests Woelfel. A greige if you will. "Having [a neutral] as a background color means you can easily update accents," she says. If you want to bring in color, it's easy. And you can work with various color schemes. "Plus," adds the color expert, "Warmer neutrals enhance wood tones and make rooms feel more inviting, [which is] especially beneficial if your home features an open floor plan."

Despite their reputation, neutral walls are the opposite of blah and are actually perfect for color enthusiasts. If you have a collection of bold items, neutrals allow these accessories to shine without feeling like you're in a circus. The optimistic yellow and pink accents in this room don't feel overwhelming thanks to our elegant, neutral wall color.

Shop Now: Interior Define "Sloan" Sectional Sofa, $1800, interiordefine.com; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams "Vienna" Bookcase, $1550, mgbwhome.com; West Elm "Streamline" Coffee Table, $319, westelm.com; Rejuvenation "Altadena" Glass Shade Floor Lamp, $599, rejuvenation.com; Wade Logan "Arboleda" Hand-Tufted Area Rug in Gray, $72.99, wayfair.com; Hawkins New York Reversible Velvet and Linen Pillow in Mustard, $200, hawkinsnewyork.com; Hable Seaglass "Jonquil" Pillow, $200, hableconstruction.com; Judy Ross Textiles "Quartz" Pillow, $215, judyrosstextiles.com; Jennifer Morehead "The Light" Print, from $31, minted.com; Leah Duncan "Desert Poppies" Print, $129, schoolhouse.com; Hawkins New York "Menu Jwda" Concrete Lamp, $200, hawkinsnewyork.com; Tom Dixon "Orbit" Trays, $140 for a set of four, tomdixon.net; Louise Tray Copper and Enamel, $120, hawkinsnewyork.com.

Look Three: Dark and Cozy

Choosing a dark color like Behr Havana Coffee, pictured above, doesn't have to be intimidating. "The minute you walk into a dark room you feel enveloped into that color," says Woelfel. The expert adds that strong, moody hues can feel very modern and restful. And contrary to popular belief using a darker wall color (especially in a small, dark room) can help a space feel bigger. "It pushes the boundaries of the walls out," she says. If you're still on the fence, start small with an accent wall. Ready to commit to the full room? Woelfel says paint the wall and the trim the same dark color. Then, paint the ceiling a couple of shades lighter to create a seamless effect. "When you leave the ceiling light, that really sophisticated feel doesn't happen."

But the expert's best advice for applying dark colors to your walls: Keep your décor light. "Have light colors in your furniture and on your floors or they get lost," she says. "It helps visually balance the room and keeps it from feeling too heavy." To add to the cozy aesthetic we used a light and textured rug which adds another layer of dimension and included several sculptural houseplants which instantly bring in life to a room.

Shop Now: Interior Define "Sloan" Sectional Sofa, $1800, interiordefine.com; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams "Vienna" Bookcase, $1550, mgbwhome.com; West Elm "Streamline" Coffee Table, $319, westelm.com; Rejuvenation "Stand" Floor Lamp, $449, rejuvenation.com; Dash & Albert "Masinissa" Hand Knotted Rug, from $198, annieselke.com; Cb2 Round "Hide" Mirror, $254, cb2.com; Aero Studios "Whitewash" Oval Tray, $150, aerostudios.com; West Elm "Half-Dipped" Stoneware Vase, $49, westelm.com; Cb2 Suede Burgundy Pillow, $69.95, cb2.com.

Styled by Edward Gallagher.

Comments (8)

Anonymous
December 8, 2019
We chose a Behr paint color similar to what you used, called "Watery."
Anonymous
February 4, 2019
As always, thank you for your suggestions. We have just downsized and want to keep it simple. My choice of wall color throughout was a light grayish with a tiny hint of mocha. At this point, all is neutral and I am struggling with: have bright, probably poly area rug for both dining & living area with a color selection from the rug for box, fabric valance. OR, & perhaps a bit more edgy, bright patterned box, fabric valance and rather neutral rugs picking up the valance colors. Other than the valances, the windows are lightly tinted, which requires extra color choice concerns, and faux wooden blinds. I really do want to keep it quite simple but we're not 6' under yet either. Any suggestions? Thanks
Anonymous
January 2, 2019
What a difference paint makes. I like all the colors. I am surprised that I like the Havana Coffee a lot. It's very dramatic.
Anonymous
December 31, 2018
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Anonymous
August 5, 2018
My new kitchen floor has too much gray in it. I wanted something more like a soft marble look that I had seen in an open house. The picture on the back of the floor sample looked exactly like what I was looking for only to find out it looks more gray than white. After seeing your picture titled "Unexpected Color", I had my aha moment. My kitchen/dining room is painted two shades of green which look wonderful with my dark cabinets and furniture but doesn't do anything with the floor. I believe if I repaint using "In the Moment" it will cool down the walls and blend more with the floor and my black appliances and dark cabinets should look lovely with that color, at least I hope so. This is why I just love looking at all your ideas, I hope this will help solve my problem. Thanks.
Anonymous
August 4, 2018
My kitchen is gold, bronze, with cream cabinets. My gray adjoining very small family room in gray just didn't go so the walls were painted gold (two step process) pretty, but now I want something light and airy. Don't know what to do to make the rooms look like they belong together. Flooring is travertine and furniture is easily slip covered if required. Help me Martha, your my last best hope! Thanks, Carolyn (Southern California)
Anonymous
August 4, 2018
I love hen you show these before and after photos. I still have "builder beige" paint color on my walls was waiting to see a dark like Behrs Havana Coffee on a room wall. I may go buy it today and try it. thanks
Anonymous
April 24, 2018
I wonder what the light colored room would look like with the bolder art work and more modern lamp?