Brighten Your Apartment: 6 Simple Tricks

Not everyone has the luxury of having big windows that let in ample sunlight. Most apartments have at least one room or space that is continually dark. A dark room can cause accidents, eye-strain, and even a sour disposition. If you’d like to illuminate your space – without taking a sledgehammer to your walls – try a few of these apartment-brightening tricks. A brighter space will lead to a brighter mood!

Paint your walls a light color

Dark walls actually soak up the light, making the room seem darker – even when you put the lights on. But lighter colors have a higher LRV, or “light reflectance value.” LRV tells you how much useable light is reflected by a surface. Wall colors with a higher LRV help to spread light deep into a space. 

Use eggshell or semi-gloss paint

Flat finishes absorb light, while glossier paints reflect the light back into the room. One warning, though: Because of the light reflection, a glossy finish does call attention to any flaws in the wall.

Keep your ceiling white 

It’s amazing the difference that a white ceiling makes on a room. Even if you have dark walls, a white ceiling will help keep the darkness from overwhelming the space. My go-to color is Benjamin Moore Super White in a flat finish -- it's the most reflective for ceilings.

Add more lamps

Yes, this seems obvious. But many apartment dwellers rely solely on overhead lights to illuminate the rooms. Light needs to come from various levels – low, middle, and high. Combining uplights on the floor and lamps on tables around the room with overhead lighting will create a brighter, more comfortable space. In feng shui, uplighting can also lift your mood and energy.

Hang large mirrors

Large mirrors can act like windows, reflecting the light back into the room. 

Choose reflective surfaces 

Just like walls, other large surfaces can absorb or reflect your light. Opt for glossy countertops, add glass panes to your hanging artwork, and place mirrored trays on top of dark tables.

Light is important for your physical and mental health. So make sure your home is gets as much light as possible!

by Anjie Cho

If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design Feng Shui certification program. Laura Morris and I are launching our program in September 2018. We have a free webinar “Five Feng Shui Tools Revealed: Must-Do Business Boosters for Soulpreneurs and Wellness Practitioners” coming up, too! To get on the list about it, sign up at:

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.

The Sticky Secret to Painting Straight, Even Edges

You’ve spent time looking at paint swatches. You’ve hung your homemade poster board-sized samples on the wall, and then moved them to check your hue from various angles. You’ve spackled, sanded, and repaired. You’re armed with rollers and brushes and you’re ready to give your room new life with a fresh coat of paint. Right? Wait. There’s one more thing you need to do to paint like a pro: Tape. 

Let’s talk about this painter’s staple for a moment. A bit of magic, tape will ensure you get paint where you want it and not where you don’t. If you want clean, straight lines, you need to tape off your borders before you get started. 

The right stuff

Don’t rack your brain trying to figure out what you have at home already that might sub for the roll of tape in the paint department. If you don’t have a roll of this specific stuff, you’re going to need to buy one (or more). Painter’s tape is low-tack, which means it will go on and peel off without leaving sticky residue on your walls and trim. It also won’t pull away the finish you wish to keep. There are different tapes suited for specific surfaces. Read the label or ask the paint shop staff for help in selecting the right roll for your job. For example, you’ll find tape designed for multi-purpose use, as well as tape specifically designed with delicate walls in mind (think fresh dry wall or newly painted). To get off on the right foot, pick the tape that’s best suited for your job. 

Prep the wall

Before you stick the tape anywhere, take a damp sponge and wipe down the wall and trim. Let the surface dry before you proceed. The best painted walls start off clean, dry, and dust-free. 

Go long

You may think it’s more manageable to pull off several inches of tape and apply it to the surface you wish to protect. Not necessarily. Every juncture point is an open invitation for paint to seep through. On the other hand, you don’t want to peel off a huge swath of tape all at once. Work with 1 to 2 foot sections at a time. Be sure to overlap your tape segments to limit the aforementioned invite to seep. Don’t go too long, however. Pulling off large sheets can create sticky tangles and ineffective, overstretched tape that won’t lie properly. This would invite paint to bleed past your tape border as well.

Smooth it out

The goal of taping is a clean, sharp line. Make sure the tape lies flat at your border line. Press it down with your fingertip or a putty knife to secure the edges. 

Base coat it

To really seal the deal, use your brush to lightly paint a thin strip of your primer or wall color along the edge of your tape. 

Take it off

If you wait for your paint to fully dry to remove your tape, the paint may chip and create uneven lines. Start pulling your tape off when you put your brush down from the last swipe of color. Pull down and away gently at a 45- degree angle. If the tape isn’t peeling back cleanly, adjust your angle to 90 degrees and enlist the help of a sharp tool to cut (or score) the layer of paint between the finished wall and the tape you’re pulling away.

by Anjie Cho

Dents, Holes and Pops: Prepping Your Walls for Paint

There’s nothing quite like setting your brush down, sliding back into your favorite cozy space and admiring a well-painted room. Before you get to that point, however, there’s ‘pre-paint’ legwork that must be done, starting with the repair of holes in your wall. Before you crack open the bucket of joint compound and grab the joint knife, keep reading. Not all wall damage is created equal. 

Small Dings, Nail Holes and Dents

Before you break out the joint compound, scrap away any loose paint or other debris from the area you’re repairing. Using your joint knife, spread the compound over the small area requiring repair. You should completely fill in the damaged space. Using the joint knife, pull away excess compound to make it level with the rest of the wall. Allow the space to dry according to the directions on the package. Keep in mind that it may take as long as 24 hours, so plan your room renovations accordingly. Once the repaired section is dry, sand it smooth and get ready to paint!

Small Holes

Don’t confuse ‘small’ with the nail-sized holes mentioned above. We’re talking about the hole created from a doorknob that met a wall with a little more pop and punch than it ought to have. If you’ve got a repair about that size, you’re going to need a bit more than joint compound and sandpaper to fix things. Pick up a peel-and-stick patch to repair this type of damage. The patch is a screen covered by fiberglass. Remove the backing and press the patch into place over the hole. Now pull out your joint compound and joint knife. Cover the mesh patch with layers of compound being careful to smooth each layer and level it off with the wall. Plan on applying three coats in total, letting each coat dry before applying the next one. Once the final coat is dry, sand the repaired area smooth and flush with the rest of the wall. Now you’re ready to paint! 

Note: You can find repair kits with patches for holes up to about six inches. Some patches are mesh like the one described above. Others will be a reinforced center panel surrounded by self-sticking tape. Larger holes require a different approach that we’ll cover in a future blog article.

Nail Pops

When you look at your wall, do you see small protrusions about the size of a nail head? This happens when the nails used to affix drywall to the studs pull away from the wood. You’ve got two choices on how to repair this, but both begin with scrapping away the ‘popped’ bit of drywall until the head of the nail is exposed. One option is to drive the nail back into the stud. Once you’ve done that, drill a drywall screw into place slightly above the nail to reinforce the drywall. Alternately, you can remove the offending nail and replace it with the drywall screw above or below the original hole. Regardless of which option you select, make sure the nail head and screw are slightly recessed into the drywall creating a dimple. Grab that joint compound again and fill in the small holes created by the removed (or re-driven) nail and the new screw. As above, wait until it’s fully dry and then sand the compound down again for a smooth even finish.

by Anjie Cho

The Best Colors for Small Space Decorating

featured this week on About Home by Diana Hathaway Timmons

The best colors for your small room don't have to be light, or even neutral. How you decorate a small space is more important than choosing the lightest color in hopes of making the room look larger. Darker colors can work well in small rooms with the right lighting, trim color, and accessories. There are easy tricks to using color in small spaces that anyone can use, regardless of the color you choose.

Eleven top designers share their favorite colors for creating a beautiful small space with color in this gorgeous slideshow.

Baby Seal Black - Benjamin Moore

From designer Anjie Cho: "I love using Baby Seal Black for an accent wall that pops in a small room. Often there's a small space serving many different purposes, and this contrasting accent wall not only creates a focal point, but helps define a different area of the room. We often use the wall for a wall-hung TV and dark credenza so it blends in. The TV doesn't stand out like a sore thumb and the room ends up feeling more spacious." full article

Roll Up Your Sleeves, It’s Time to Paint!

Love the paint color you've picked out! You’ve done your due diligence and you’re about to head out to the store to pick up gallons of that gorgeous color your walls have been begging for! But wait. Now what? How many gallons do you buy? Do you need to do anything to prep the walls? How much time should you set aside for this project? Keep reading.

How many gallons?

You’re going to need to do a little math. Add the length of the walls and multiple that by the height of the room to determine the square footage of your space. Don’t put away the calculator, because you’re not done yet. Now subtract the square footage of each door and window in the room. If you want a rough estimate, you can assume 20 sq. ft. for each door and 15 sq. ft. for each average-sized window. Now you have an approximate idea of how large a surface area you’ll be painting. A gallon of paint will provide one coat to roughly 350 sq. ft. of wall. 

How many coats?

No matter what color you’ve selected, plan on applying at least two coats for an even, complete finish. Darker colors might require 3 or 4 coats for a proper finish. Don’t forget to factor each coat into your surface-area figures above in order to ensure you’ve bought enough paint. Multiply your square footage by the number of coats to determine exactly how much paint you’re going to need. 

But wait, first things first.

You’ve determined how much paint you’ll need, but before you run out to pick up your gallon(s), there’s more to add to your shopping list. A fresh coat of paint deserves a smooth canvas. You’ll need to spackle existing nail holes, fill cracks, and prime the wall. All of that requires supplies. You’ll also need a role of blue tape, rollers, brushes and other related items. Make your shopping list and pick up all your supplies at once before you roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Do you need to skim coat?

Good question. There are a several reasons why you’ll need to consider a skim coat (aka applying a layer of mud/joint compound to the wall.)

  • Are you covering existing decorative texture treatments?
  • Are you blending an existing dry wall with a newly installed section?
  • Are you working on a section of wall that has been patched and repaired?
  • Are you refinishing walls that were recently adorned with wallpaper or other treatments like stenciling and painted patterns?

If you can answer "yes" to any of these questions, you’ll want to read up on skim coating here: The What and Why of Skim Coating.

Prime. Just do it.

There is not a question here. Yes. You need to prime. If you’re working with new drywall or recently skim coated walls, primer will help seal and ready the walls for its new hue. If you’re painting a lighter color over a darker one, primer will help quell the bold shade and ready it for its more muted replacement. If you’ve simply spackled and sanded nail holes and/or repaired small cracks with mesh and spackle, prime to ensure a more uniform finish to your final color. 

How long do you wait between coats?

Just because your wall looks dry and feels dry to the touch doesn’t mean it’s ready for the next coat. At minimum, figure you’ve got enough time to fit in dinner and a movie. In other words, give your walls at least four hours between coats. Poor ventilation, cool temperatures, high humidity and other facts can slow the process down, however. It you want to be safe, consider calling it a day after one coat and pick up where you left off the following day.

by Anjie Cho