This designer-approved color drenching hack will ensure the look never falls flat – the key is in the finish

If you want to make a specific paint color your 'muse,' Marie suggests this simple color-drenching tip

Three images of color drenched, moody spaces designed by Marie Flanigan Interiors
(Image credit: Julie Soefer / Marie Flanigan Interiors)

Color drenching offers a fast track to bold, exciting design schemes, but it's not the most approachable method for painting a room. Whether you've opted for a dark, moody color palette or are after something a bit more subtle, the prospect of painting an entire room in the same shade can feel like an enormous undertaking. What if you grow sick of the hue you chose? What if the final product is just too much?

Luckily, interior designer Marie Flanigan just took to Instagram to share the color-drenching hack she relies on when she 'wants a paint color to be [her] muse.' And the secret lies somewhere unexpected: the paint's matte, glossy, or somewhere-in-between finish. Here's what Marie suggests for an eye-catching yet sleek space that's drenched in a single shade, plus why it's a room color idea that's hard to beat.

'Sometimes the simplest way to create a profound impact in a room is through a beautiful paint color. And when I want a paint color to be my muse, I often will drench an entire room – the walls, the ceiling, the trim, everything,' says Marie in an Instagram video while showing off a design of hers that features a deep maroon shade on just about every surface.

Color drenching a space is a powerful method, but without some expert guidance it can be difficult to know where to start. If you're in love with a specific shade but don't know what to do next, you're not alone. But Marie says there's an easy place begin, and it all comes down to the paint's finish. Whether you opt for shiny, glossy paint or something more muted (that still takes on the same hue) has an incredible impact on the final look of the surface – and the entirety of the space.

Marie Flanigan
Marie Flanigan

Marie Flanigan is an award-winning interior designer whose passion and achievements in design have positioned her as one of the nation’s best. She is classically trained and practiced architect, and her trademark style is evident through the sophisticated use of color, texture, and light. Every home she designs receives her personal signature of timeless elegance and innovative simplicity.

A green color drenched living room

(Image credit: Julie Soefer / Marie Flanigan Interiors)

Marie suggests switching up the paint sheen levels on different surfaces, even within a room of all the same color, to add depth and visual interest to the space. Depending on where the paint falls in the room, it will be exposed to different levels of light, shadow and contrasting shades. So when deciding what sheen to go with, it may make more sense to use glossy in one area of the room and stick with matte in another.

'Really the secret on how to do this is by changing the sheen in where you use it, and creating different contrasts in reflectivity around the room. On walls, I typically love to do a matte finish and just really get that soft absorption of light. Sometimes I'll switch to an eggshell if it needs to be more wipeable,' says Marie.

A color drenched maroon room designed by Marie Flanigan Interiors

(Image credit: Julie Soefer / Marie Flanigan Interiors)

While walls can take on a more subtle sheen, Marie suggests a satin finish for trim, crown molding and baseboards. A satin finish is soft yet durable, she says, making it the perfect fit for hard-to-reach or high-traffic areas of the home. When it comes to the ceiling, though, Marie takes one of two very divergent approaches.

'For ceilings, I'll go back to matte. And when I really want to bring in high drama, I'll bring in a high gloss ceiling, sometimes trim, and even sometimes a high gloss wall,' she says.

In this moody living room, complete with a beautiful built-in bookshelf and floor-to-ceiling paneled windows, a high-gloss ceiling adds the perfect burst of energy to an otherwise dark space. Natural lighting reflects onto this surface, contributing depth and dynamism while still blending in with the rest of the color drench. Even though nearly everything in this room matches, down to the dining chairs and curtains, the paint finish offers enough deviation to prevent it from feeling flat.

There's no need to fear color drenching, even in the most expansive of spaces, with this clever tip from Marie. Pick your finishes carefully and take the rest of the room into account for a high-impact yet calming space that doesn't compromise on color.

Abby Wilson
News Writer

I am a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, with a focus on interior design. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.