A reader posed this question: “I am bored with my seaside themed guest bathroom and want something fresh and updated. It is a tiny room with a sink, toilet and shower – about 5′x5′ not including the shower.
I have a can of “acid” green paint; I love the color and I’m thinking about using it as the inspiration for my bath. I’m guessing that I would need to offset the brightness with black and white, so maybe using a black framed mirror and white shower curtain. But I’m not sure how to use the paint and what kind of treatment to use for the walls. I want something modern but a total “mod” look wouldn’t really go with the rest of my home. Any suggestions to get me started?” Kathy -Everett, WA
COLOR COMPANIONS FOR VIVID GREEN
First, I don’t think you have to be limited to black/white as the other colors, especially since that combo seems quite contemporary to me. If you want to calm the bright yellowy green, I would suggest a rich chocolate brown for the mirror and art frames so the contrast wouldn’t be quite as stark as with black. Another couple of options would be navy blue or purple, either of which would be more unexpected. If you want something other than white for your overall color, I’d go with a light khaki – you’d still get the punch of the vivid green, but the overall effect would be softer.
The accent color could then appear in a stripe or floral in the shower curtain which would bring some pattern into the room. Or, buy an inexpensive white shower curtain and add a band at the bottom of at least 12″ wide in your accent color. It’ll add the color, spice up the curtain and use less than a yard of fabric. If you don’t sew, use iron-on stitch witchery.
CREATIVE PAINT IDEAS
It sounds like you don’t have much uninterrupted wall space for a focal wall so I’d suggest one bold element. Horizontal stripes are still a popular treatment, but how about taking it a step further? On your white walls, paint a wide stripe (24-30″) about 30-36″ from the ceiling or wherever it has the least interference with tiles and fixtures. Then “trim” the stripe with a 2″ band top and bottom with your accent color – a sharp navy or dramatic purple.
Another option would be to paint an updated checkerboard. Again, start with the wide stripe. When it’s dry, tape out your standard checkerboard design. For something a little more updated, use a subway tile style which is rectangular 3×6″ or 4×8″, whichever fits your stripe evenly. Using the same acid green color, but in flat, paint the alternating squares. Interest will be created in the subtle shading of different paint finishes. If that’s too tame, while the tape is still up, use it as a guide to freehand a narrow (1/4″) line to outline the checkerboard, like grout. Don’t worry about the freehand aspect, you want it to look handpainted. If you want something more organic, try outlining great big leaves – an oversize, graphic leaf shape. Again, not solid, but just the outline – and maybe have a piece of the leaf break the plane of the stripe slightly.
Depending upon how dramatic you want to be, think about painting the whole room a medium, greyed out purple. If not purple, then the light khaki. Using round templates of varying diameters or a compass, draw a series of overlapping circles from huge (maybe 3 ft diameter) to small (10-12″). Again, just use the outlines traced in your acid green. The freehand variation in thickness and uneveness of the edges will create interest and movement in a room of squares. Maybe even draw one circle so it ‘bends’ onto the ceiling and breaks that plane.
HOW TO PAINT PERFECT STRIPES
When taping to paint stripes, measurement is critical to keep the tape lines straight. I usually put a mark every 6-8 inches or so to increase my chances of keeping the tape straight. Then lay a level along the marks and lightly draw a line. Then tape. To keep the paint from seeping under the tape, (always a major problem) try this: use untinted glaze and paint with a brush right along the edge of the tape and it will seal the edge. Instead of glaze use the base wall color. So if your base wall color is khaki, tape your design and paint the edges of the tape with khaki – then if it seeps it won’t show but it will seal the tape to the wall. When it’s dry, paint your stripe color. Although either of these techniques add another step of drying time, it’s well worth it in the long run to have those crisp stripe edges.