Color – it’s what we ultimately see and it affects how we feel in our homes. We can choose colors that are warm, cool or dramatic, make things pop or are simply a neutral back drop to our furnishings and artwork. It all gets very confusing when you have hundreds of paint samples on small swatches and you try to envision your color choice. So what’s a good way of going about it?
First, you’ll never really know what your color will be until the whole room is painted and you see it reflecting off of each of the walls in the different lights of the day. So keep in mind, whatever you choose is a risk, the goal here will be to minimize that risk and try to get the best color selected at the start. Also, paint chips are done with ink and not paint, so the actual chip will never really match the paint, it will be close but won’t match. (There is one company who makes their chips with paint called C2, but it’s a costly non-mainstream paint). Some companies offer small samples of paint and you could brush that on the wall and see if you like it, (you’ll need two coats and it still won’t be perfect since the brush lines will not exactly mimic the stipple of a roller). I’ve been on many color consulting visits and have seen numerous paint samples brushed on the walls and after a year or two these clients still haven’t pulled the trigger and are even more confused. It’s as if they are waiting for magic to happen and that perfect color will appear to them. Once again, there is no magic in samples and chips, there is however creative and technical reasons why to use and why not to use certain colors. Let’s see if we can unravel the technical issues first.
So when I say technical I mean there are rules, here’s a few. Placing a color next to its opposite (complimentary color) will magnify each color’s intensity. Red next green makes each color look vivid, the red more red and the green more green. You’ll see this when shopping, red apples placed in imitation green grass so the apples look redder or blue next to orange like the NY Mets uniforms. In a home, an apple green next to cherry cabinets looks nice because the cabinets will come to life. In a bath a blue/green next to a creamy toasted yellow tile show contrast but is toned down and pleasant. I would challenge you to make a mental note whenever you see a color next to its opposite. Look at packaging, clothing, decorating and nature, you’ll be surprised at the visual affect. Just understanding this basic technical visual affect can be useful when selecting your color.
Still technically speaking, what goes well with what? Golds/creams/buffs/yellows go poorly with taupes. Taupe is a cream color with red in it and gold and taupe will fight each other and yes, clash! If you are painting a foyer and the carpet is Taupe or the tile is Taupe, then don’t use a gold toned color. If you are painting a bath that has 80’s dated green tile or accents, then don’t use anything that has red in it, it will intensify the green. Rather use a very light green or blue. Blue is next to (or analogous) green on the color wheel and will tone down the dated tile rather than enhance its green color.
Blue in a foyer? I’m not crazy about that, besides how do you marry blue with all the other rooms? Let me touch on what I call, “good color balance.” Walk into your foyer, on the right maybe a living room and the left say a dining room. It’s my opinion that good color balance and design would have you paint the foyer a warm or bright neutral and paint the room to the right a true color and the room to the left a true color thus allowing good color balance. Versus, one of the rooms a deep burgundy and the other neutral, if you did that then all of your energy would get pulled to the deep burgundy room whereas a balanced scheme relaxes the senses. Good decorating and color schemes should pull you through the house but in a balanced enticement. Getting back to the foyer, if you choose a neutral color not only will the right and left and kitchen join easily, but the bedrooms will join just as well.
It all needs to flow? What does that really mean? It means you don’t want to walk from the red to the green to the blue room. Your eyes will struggle to adjust, your emotions will go into shock and you’ll bounce up and down and back and forth and rather than the house flowing, it will be churning – yuck!
There’s more technical stuff but let’s spend some time getting touchy feely and getting in touch with our senses and imagination, that’s what color does. A buff bath tile, a warm brown marble counter and cream cabinet with glaze and a soft blue green wall with pale white trim and bead board – harmony and spa-like. Feel relaxed, you should, colors should make you feel the way you want to feel in each room. Conversely, a kitchen with deep red walls – might be too intense for me. What about you? How would you select a kitchen paint color, it is by the way the last thing to select after the granite and splash tile and it can be tough. Kitchens have three elements that need to be complimented with wall color and they are the cabinets, counters and splash. The color rides right against the cabinets and splash so that’s where you want to hold you paint sample. If you want the cabinets to “pop”, then use an opposite and if you want them to blend in then use an analogous color. Kitchens should be a bit brighter in color or light reflectance values (LRV) so that they wake you up in the morning and bring life and joy into the room. You really don’t want your kitchen to evoke the emotions of a warm living room, but that’s your choice.
I’ve been able to touch on just a few technical and creative ideas about color. Look for more color ideas and real solutions to color in the coming weeks. I’ll leave you with some of my favorite tested colors. These colors are the icing on the cake in many of our remodel projects:
Bath Number one by volume at All Trades: SW Quietude
Family Room easy to use color: SW Latte
Perfect Trim color: Sw Dover White (goes with everything)
If you have any other questions about paint color choice or would like to get started on a project with us, give me a call at (908) 713-1584 or submit a contact form here and I’ll be happy to help!