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Choosing a Paint Color for a Small, Dark Space

Color in a room has a dramatic effect on the feel of a space. Prior to moving into the townhouse, I told myself I was going to live with the existing paint color for a while before choosing a new color.

My resolve lasted about…umm…5 minutes?;)

To start with, there was a 90s’ ceiling feature going on around the perimeter of the ceiling.

Choosing a Paint Color for a Small, Dark Space

Although painted beautifully, the beige racing stripe seemed to make the room feel it was squeezing you in from all sides.

Despite being surrounded by moving boxes piled at an alarming height, I got out some leftover ceiling paint, and painted over that bad boy.

Choosing a Paint Color for a Small, Dark Space

(White Heron by Benjamin Moore.) Having the ceiling stripe gone definitely expanded the room visually. However, we dayly observed a bigger issue.

Choosing a Paint Color for a Small, Dark Space

The room felt so very dark ~ even on a bright, sunny day (which is rare in the Winter here on the rainy West Coast).

Since there is no overhead lighting in the Living Room area, it was especially dark in the evenings, in spite of the lamps.

We knew right away that we wanted the room to be white. But, of course, there are only about 750 different whites to choose from!

I made many trips to the paint store picking up samples that looked lovely and white and soothing in the store…

Choosing a Paint Color for a Small, Dark Space

But, when I put them up on the wall in our space, they looked very different!

Eventually, I borrowed some huge paint swatches from a friend. Although they don’t picture well, each color of white is very different.

Choosing a Paint Color for a Small, Dark Space

I taped the swatches up in various parts of the room and observed them at different times of the day. I also held up my inspiration pillow to them to see how well they worked together..

I’m not going to lie. It was hard to pick a white.

I didn’t want it to look sterile and cold, but I didn’t want it to look beige either!

In the end, I finally pulled the trigger and chose this one:


Simply White by Benjamin Moore.

It seemed to be warm without looking muddy in all the different areas in the room. And, I reasoned that since it was last year’s Color of the Year, it must have a good reputation!:)

When we finally had the paint in hand, we pushed our furniture together and started the transformation…

Choosing a Paint Color for a Small, Dark Space

We discovered quickly that painting a tiny space has unique challenges. We were moving (and tripping over) furniture all day!

In the end, it was worth it, though.

It’s a color we absolutely love!

Here’s a little color comparison:

Before (Benjamin Moore Natural Linen):

Choosing a Paint Color for a Small, Dark Space

After (Simply White, by Benjamin Moore):



It’s light without feeling cold and sterile, and works perfect in this small space.

One Room Challenge To Do List:

  1. Change out light fixtures. (One done, one to go.)
  2. Paint the bizarre brown racing stripe around the perimeter of the room’s ceiling out.
  3. Paint out the dreadfully dark builder’s beige color.
  4. Add some feature walls of interest in the Dining Room space.
  5. Figure out storage space solutions.
  6. Re-design the entryway closet to function better and have a little style.
  7. Hang up art
  8. Find lighting solutions to brighten up the room during the day and night.
  9. Start shopping for a new couch/ new chairs?  (This may just be a dream…)
  10. New rug?

Choosing a Paint Color for a Small, Dark Space

Missed a previous One Room Challenge post? You can find Part One here.

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  1. I wish you could have seen our rental…. it was that beigy brown color – probably almost identical to what you had – everywhere on the main floor. And I mean everywhere! Cupboards, baseboards, walls, stripe on the ceiling… So I painted the kitchen “Bakery Box White”. Mostly because I liked the name. I’m a sucker for the names of colors…. haha. And changing out to white curtains and painted the bathroom “Tahitian Morning” blue. Again… that name! It just makes me happy.

    1. Oh…I love the name Bakery Box White, too! And Tahitian Morning sounds absolutely vacationy… Happy settling in, my friend. I think of you often as I’m unpacking boxes these days…

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