Give a ho-hum wall presence and personality with a magic square of painted colors. This is a great way to get courageous with color, using a simple formula to create a compelling, balanced palette. Use the background wall color—here sage green—as a jumping-off point. Then chose colors for the blocks in other versions of that color: lime green, pea soup, gray green, olive, teal, sea green. This creates an inherently pleasing interplay of colors.
1. Start with a smooth wall in the color of your choice. Choosing from colors in the same family as the wall, select nine paint chips from your favorite brand of low- or no-VOC paint. Play with the colors in a block by moving paint chips around on the wall, noticing how they balance and interact with each other. Transfer the chips to a piece of paper to use as a reference.
2. Using a level and a yardstick, measure and mark out a square on your wall. Ours is an 18-inch square, but if you have the space, a larger color block can be more dramatic. Divide the large square into thirds vertically and horizontally, making nine equal squares. Mark them lightly with a sharp pencil.
3. You can buy tiny paint-sample size jars from the paint store for your block colors. (Choose three or four, then mix together in different ratios to create all nine colors). Or try the tinting techniques in "Try This: Mix Your Own Paint Colors" to make an unlimited range of colors. Use your paint chips for reference.
4. Tape off the squares with masking tape. Using a small brush, paint the squares on the four outside corners with different colors. Be sure to remove the tape promptly, before the paint dries. Wait until the paint dries thoroughly before taping off and painting an adjacent square. Continue until all squares are completed.