How to create the illusion of higher ceilings, warm up a cookie-cutter space, and more solutions to your painting problems

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If you're planning on staying in your apartment for a bit, but want to give it a (somewhat painless) makeover, painting is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to overhaul your apartment's look (hey, we said relatively). Still, with so many choices out there—neutral or bright? Dark or light? Sunflower yellow or blood red?—many folks can be easily overwhelmed. So how should you proceed?

  1. Buy a paint color fan deck, available at any paint store for about $10-$15. This color swatch has hundreds of paint chip colors to choose from
  2. Take a good, hard look at the existing colors and furnishings in your apartment, and try to find colors that you’re attracted to, and that you think will coordinate with your furniture and floors.
  3. Try a tool like Benjamin Moore’s Personal Color Viewer, which lets you virtually paint any room in your apartment using only your computer. Simply load a picture of the room in question to see how the color of your choice will look in relation to your belongings.  
  4. Paint can look drastically different between a chip, a can and a wall so you would be wise to paint test patches first so there won’t be any surprises when all is said and done.

New York City apartments offer some unique challenges, ranging from lack of sunlight to low ceilings to teeny-tiny dimensions. So how should you combat each of these situations?

  • Low ceilings: If your ceilings are eight feet or less, you can create the illusion of a taller space by painting the walls and the ceiling the same color.
  • Cold, generic spaces: Whether you’re living in a post-war apartment without any character or a modern, cold-feeling unit, rich, dark colors can warm up those spaces.
  • Dark apartments: Try a brighter color to brighten up the room. But first make sure that you’ll be able to live with that sunflower yellow on a daily basis.
  • Tiny spaces: Lighter colors will give the illusion of more space and darker colors will make the room look cozy. Which would you prefer?
  • Kid-friendly: If you have small children, try a washable paint. And if your little one is especially artsy, try a chalkboard finish on one wall. That’ll give your mini-Picasso plenty of space to draw.
  • Resale: Neutral is still best. A blank canvas will allow buyers to easily imagine themselves in your space.

For more, read “New York City renovation questions: What are the best paint colors for an apartment?

In Case You Missed It: Every so often, BrickUnderground digs through the archives to find the best advice our experts have shared through the years.


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