If you’re lucky enough to have a period home with lots of beautiful architectural features you might want to highlight these.
Don’t be tempted to use too many colours though as you may distract from the very thing you are trying to enhance. For a sophisticated look in a neutral room if you paint them a shade or two darker than the wall colour you can subtly draw attention to the detail.
If your features are more functional, like a radiator, then you may prefer for these to disappear, the best way to do this is to paint them in the same colour as the walls.
Living Room in Blazer No.212 and String No.8 | Estate Emulsion & Estate Eggshell
Hallway in Silvergate (archived) and Calke Green No.34 | Estate Eggshell
Some of the most common architectural features are dado rails (or chair rails), panelling and cornicing. These can be decorated in a myriad of different ways.
Dado rails began life as a purely functional feature of the home (to protect walls against knocks from the backs of chairs), but over the years they have become an architectural feature in their own right. Many dado rails are painted white creating a dividing line between the patterns and colour used above and below. While this is a classic look, it can appear quite harsh, with your eye drawn to the line around the room. To avoid this becoming too dominant, choose a white that is sympathetic to the colour in the space – matching the dado rail colour to the ground or print colour of a wallpaper is a great way to do this.
Alternatively, paint the dado rail the same colour as the wall below, by using a darker colour below the dado rail and onto the rail itself, the space above instantly feels larger while the dado rail is absorbed into the decorating scheme.
Living Room in Lotus | BP 2051 and Pale Powder No.204
Kitchen in Railings No.31 | Modern Emulsion & Estate Eggshell
Whether original or new, panelling is a beautiful feature in any home. Traditionally decorators picked out panelling by painting it several different colours. Today, it has become popular to paint panelling in just one colour, a style with Georgian precedent, to make the space feel much larger.
You can also be creative with panelling and use it to frame wallpaper and create a bespoke piece of art.
Living Room in French Gray No.18 | Estate Eggshell
Living Room in Jasmine BP 3903 and Stiffkey Blue No.281 | Wallpaper & Estate Eggshell
Like many architectural features the key decision when decorating a room with cornicing is whether to use a contrasting colour to really highlight this feature, or to choose a similar shade to help the cornicing blend into the scheme. By painting the cornicing one or two shades lighter than the walls but a shade darker than the ceiling you can help to make the ceiling feel higher as a graduation from dark to light will create the illusion of height.