Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Color by design - Part 3


Welcome to the third of a series of short articles about color:

Starting Points for a Color Scheme and Designing a Space:
Color preferences change throughout our lifetime, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Forget past references, what makes your heart sing today?

First, as with most projects, make a list by writing down the basics: Decide which items will stay, such as a sofa or a rug, and which elements you would like to change such as wall color or window treatments. Give away, change, or relocate anything you don’t absolutely love or that won’t work with your developing ideas.

Next, determine a budget (yes, there always needs to be a budget) - what are the absolute priorities, and what would be “nice” to include. Keep in mind the changes that will have the most impact for the dollar, such as paint, upholstery or slip covers, and accessories. These simple changes can make a dramatic impact to a room.

Generate ideas by creating a collection of things that appeal to you. Collect swatches of fabric, paint chips and wall paper samples (wall paper is coming back “big time”). Be sure to include items that you are drawn to in other parts of your life as well. What colors in your garden do you like the best? Do you have a favorite vase, piece of pottery, or artwork that evokes favorable emotions? Look through magazines and tear out pages of rooms that you like, objects that appeal to you, or ideas that you find intriguing. Make sure to look at all types of magazines, not just home and decorating (shelter) magazines. You would be surprised what you can find in fashion, food, travel or even news magazines! Don’t worry about coordinating colors or themes just yet.

Determine your Color Preferences and Develop a Palette

Take a look at the items you have collected and consider the following:
1. Are you drawn to warm colors such as reds and yellows or do you prefer cooler blues and greens?
2. Do you like a lot of colors, or various shades and tints of a single color?
3. Are you looking to create a sense of calm in your life / room or a feeling of energy?
4. What colors in nature appeal to you?
5. What colors are “in your closet” – what colors do you feel most comfortable wearing (and notice when you receive the most compliments)?
6. Where do your selected colors fall on the color wheel?
7. Do you have a range of intensities?
8. Do you need to add accent colors for interest?
9. How does your selection work with your floor color? After walls and ceilings, floor color is the largest area of color and can be a determining factor in creating your palette. In fact, keep in mind that all surface materials (wood – tile – stone – brick – metals) have their own colors and undertones to take into consideration. So, don’t forget to consider the exposed brick wall, the kitchen cabinets and counter tops, the ceiling beams, or other architectural features that exist in our home.

Begin grouping colors to see what appeals to you the most.

Editing Your Collection of Ideas
Throughout the editing process, think about harmony and balance. Consider the size and scale of the room and its furnishings. View your samples all together in the space, since element such as lighting and the color of other objects in the room, like carpeting, will impact your decisions. The larger the area, the bolder a color will appear. Repeat colors in a room through accessories such a pillows, lamps, and draperies. Don’t use a color just once or it may look out of place, but keep in mind that your chosen color can have different value ranges, light to dark to create interest. Tip: Carpet will appear lighter in larger quantities (versus the sample piece you bring home) and paint will appear darker on a large and vertical area than the little paper swatch.

At final choice, you should love all of the colors, fabrics, patterns and textures you have chosen. Their combined effect should be one that pleases your eye, feels balanced, and makes you comfortable.

Color and Paints
Paint is one of the most affordable and easiest ways to make a change in a room. Subtle or dramatic, how many times have you witnessed the difference fresh wall color makes in a space? There are several factors you should consider when selecting paint. Those little paint chips you get in the store can lead you to the right color choice for you (always look at them in the room you will be painting – do not rely on the color as shown in the store), but you shouldn’t rely on them to truly predict how a color will look (they are just too small, and they are printed on paper…are your walls made of paper)?

The best way to determine paint color is to purchase a quart of the color and do what is referred to as a “brush out.” Brush the paint onto the walls or onto fairly large pieces of plasterboard to allow you to move these samples around the room. See how the color works on all the walls in the room – those receiving a lot of light, deep shadows, and corners that reflect off of each other. Look at how daylight affects the color at different times during the day as well as how artificial light affects the colors during the evening.

Consider the types of finishes available for paints: Flat, matte, eggshell, pearl, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. Flat paint absorbs light creating a sophisticated opaque color. Gloss reflects the most light, and the higher the gloss, the darker and more intense the color rendition.

Premium Quality Paint
When it comes to choosing paint, always choose a quality product. Eighty-five to 90% of the cost of manufacturing a gallon of paint is spent on raw materials. These materials vary in grade, so naturally, the better the materials, the higher the cost of the paint.

A premium paint will give better coverage and have a greater ease of application, saving you both money and time. Quality coatings also ensure color uniformity, an important aspect for touch-ups and/or underestimated paint needs. Premium paints wear better, longer, and hold up against repeated cleanings.

Many brands today also offer green products to help your health and spare the environment.

Cynthia Peacock is a professional Interior Designer (member of the American Society of Interior designers, ASID) and Principal of her own design firm, PEACOCK Interior Design, LLC. Cynthia has worked on a wide variety of outstanding projects (residences, offices, hotels, ships) in her 16 year career as an Interior Designer, and finds that color is the constant challenge, joy, and reward. If you are color-challenged, and need gentle guidance, Cynthia may be contacted

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Do It Yourself Recessed Lighting Conversions

Are you tired of the recessed lighting in your kitchen? Are you looking to update to some of the new pendant lights? If you’re ready to update your lighting there are some interesting products on the market that you can use to convert your recessed or “can” lights to other types of fixtures and you can easily do it yourself.
Instant Pendant Light is one of the easiest DIY products on the market for turning a recessed light into a stylish hanging pendant light. The Instant Pendant Light installs as simply as changing a light bulb. You can choose from several shade style and colors and the length of the cord can be adjusted at any time. The Instant Pendant Light is available at Lowes under the Portfolio ® brand of lighting.

Can Converter is a revolutionary product that adapts almost any recessed light fixture or can light to work with other types of light fixtures. This handy light adapter makes it a snap for anyone to install can light conversions. You can modify can lights to hang a ceiling fan, ceiling light, light canopy, swag light, pendant light or just about any other type of light fixture in minutes. This product requires some knowledge electrical wiring and can only be used on certain models of can lights especially when converting to a ceiling fan or chandelier which requires additional support. Although this solution will take more time you can install just about any type of light fixture you want. The Can Converter can be purchased at Lamps Plus Colorado Locations and other specialty lighting stores in Colorado.
A Well Hung Light is another brand that is much more expensive but has many more selections of pendant shades and designs. Like the Instant Pendant Light it also installs directly into the existing light socket. A Well Hung Light is available only on line

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Color By Design - Part 2

The first thing one notices upon entering a room: COLOR

Welcome to the second of a series of short articles about color: Learning about color, choosing colors, living with color, and color around the world. This month: The language of color and the color wheel.

Hue Another name or word for color. It also refers to the color family and its position on the color wheel: primary, secondary, tertiary.
Primary hues Pure red, yellow, and blue.
Secondary hues Combinations of two primary colors, to include orange, green, and violet.
Tertiary hues A combination of a primary and a secondary color, and are identified by the names of the colors used: yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, green-blue, yellow-green.
Value Refers to the degree of lightness or darkness of a hue or color – especially valuable in relation to surrounding colors.
Tint A color or hue that is mixed with white, creating a lighter version of the particular color.
Tone A color or hue that is mixed with gray, creating a duller version of the particular color.
Shade A color or hue that is mixed with black, creating a darker version of the particular color.
Chroma Another word for intensity, and refers to a color’s purity or saturation. The purer or less gray a color, the more intensity it has. Bright yellow and cherry red are high chroma or high intensity colors. Ochre and brick are low chroma or low intensity colors. Highly intense colors add energy to a room, while lower intensity colors can give a space a calming effect. Remember last month’s article mentioned that the larger the space, the more intense a color will be perceived. Small narrow rooms will intensify color; large open spaces can handle more saturated (or highly chromatic) color.
Undertones These are the underlying colors in a hue. With the exception of primary colors (red, yellow, blue), all other hues are a mix of colors. There are no undertones in a primary red because it is a pure color (or has high chroma), but the color berry is the hue red with blue undertones. Being able to discern undertones is important when creating a room décor, since pairing colors with clashing undertones can ruin the look of a room.

We perceive a color as warm or cool, and this is relative to a particular hue and its surrounding colors. All hues may be warm or cool (depending on the “mixture” of the value of the color – it could be either warm OR cool), but in general, yellows, oranges, and reds are warm. Blues, greens, and violets are cool colors. Warm colors are aggressive and seem to “advance” while cool colors “recede” into the background. Combining both warm and cool colors in a scheme intensifies the temperature of the respective colors.

WARM HUES Reds / Oranges / Yellows
Conveys a sensation of physical and emotional warmth.
Active and Stimulating colors.
Yellow is the warmest, and the color we see first.
More casual & less formal.
Advancing…seem nearer to us.
Warm light such as firelight gives us feelings of security, harmony and comfort.
When dominant in a scheme, the atmosphere tends to be more inviting, lively, cheerful and cozy.
People will be more outgoing and sociable around warm colors.
If used too much in intensity (pure hue or chroma), can cause tension & irritation (pure red= high blood pressure).

COOL HUES Blues / Greens / Violets
Conveys a sensation of physical and emotional coolness.
More formal, reserved and sophisticated.
Restful and quiet.
Blue is the coolest of the cools.
Green is the closest to the warm colors; easiest to go either way.
People tend to be more introverted and less active in dominantly cool environments.
Too much intensity for a prolonged amount of time can actually be depressing.

The color wheel is an orderly / circular arrangement of colors. There are 12 colors in a standard color wheel of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors (see above definitions). A basic color wheel includes high intensity (high chroma) pure, full strength colors (shown on the outside edge of the wheel). While you may not use these vibrant colors as they appear on the wheel for your color schemes in the home, the principles associated with this helpful tool will assist in ensuring you achieve the effect you want to create. Some color wheels will also give examples of the shades, tones and tints of the pure color, and may even have an example of a gray scale to show value changes.

The color wheel can help you in choosing a coordinated color scheme for a room or your home by visually illustrating various color harmonies. These are different hues which work well with one another (same as harmonious chords in music). They are intuitive and reflect color and reactions that are common regardless of society, time or place.

Achromatic A colorless scheme using blacks, whites and grays (a very cool versus a warm scheme). Quite popular at the moment, especially when one highly chromatic hue is used as an accent color!
Monochromatic Use any tints, shades or tones of a single color / hue to create a look that is elegant and sophisticated. Value is very important in monochromatic schemes. Beware of boring – use a variety or a wide range of tints and shades.
Analogous Uses consecutive (adjacent ) colors on the color wheel (blue, blue-green, green). You may use any shades, tint or tones of the hues, and a pleasing palette uses one of the colors more than the other two.
Complementary Includes the two colors (again, any shades, tints or tones) that are directly opposite each other on the wheel. Complementary colors enhance the temperature of each other, adding interest and energy to a décor. Red and green are America’s favorite color scheme (see varying shades, tints and tones in different areas around the country).
Split Complements Choosing one hue and using the color on each side of its complement on the color wheel.
Triad Color schemes that include any three hues equally spaced on the color wheel. The most popular is red, yellow and blue (primaries), of course in various shades, tints or tones! It is best to choose one hue as the dominant, another as a secondary, and the third as an accent color. Remember that the accent color can be of the highest chroma.
TETRAD Four hues approximately equidistant from one another on the color wheel (the most complex color scheme), they usually use two complementary schemes at the same time.
NEUTRALS All color schemes should have warm and cool neutrals in them (especially in the largest areas, the floors, walls and ceilings. Neutrals include cool and warm grays, browns and tans (neutralized reds and oranges), and creams, of-whites and beiges. Black and white are not technically hues, so they may also be categorized as neutrals.

Color affects your perception of:
SIZE of space – Bright, light, neutral and warm hues expand space making it appear larger. Cool hues contract space making a room appear smaller. Dark colors will appear heavier and smaller.
ORIENTATION of space - Are there architectural or structural features which should be accentuated or minimized? For example, don’t let a brick fireplace spoil a color scheme; take it into consideration by not painting the brick to match the wall – make the wall compatible with the brick. Room space can be divided by using different colors in conversation areas, or unified by using only one color.
LENGTH OF TIME and activity in a space - How long will you remain in the space…warm colors will make you overestimate time – cool colors underestimate time. Too much contrast of color proves distracting and fatiguing.
TEMPERATURE in space - Cool colors can make you feel colder, and warm colors can make you feel hotter. Use warm and/or dark colors in a cold climate, and cool and/or light colors in a warm climate.

Distribution of color
The largest surfaces in a room should use the most neutralized values (if you use highly saturated colors you will tire quickly of the scheme). Large pieces of furniture or rugs can have greater chromatic intensity. Create visual interest by applying the strongest chroma to the accent pieces.

Future topics of interest:
Starting points to designing with color
Color Trends
Color symbolism - White / Black / Yellow / Orange /Red /Violet /Blue /Green
Color Associations
Psychology / Therapy of color
Color and Art
Color around the world

Cynthia Peacock is a professional Interior Designer (member of the American Society of Interior designers, ASID) and Principal of her own design firm, PEACOCK Interior Design, LLC. Cynthia has worked on a wide variety of outstanding projects (residences, offices, hotels, ships) in her 16 year career as an Interior Designer, and finds that color is the constant challenge, joy, and reward. If you are color-challenged, and need gentle guidance, Cynthia may be contacted

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Taking care of your trees

3 Tree Fertilization Techniques
About the author - David Merriman owns ArborScape, a tree service in Denver, CO. He is an ISA Certified Arborist and writes about lawn care and tree care.

Landscape and urban trees typically grow in soils that do not contain sufficient elements due to disruption of the nutrient cycle by pavement, buildings and roads. Also, leaves, the driver of the nutrient cycle, are raked up before decomposing and micro-organism's can't break stuff down.

The key to tree fertilization is distributing the right amount of nutrients at the right time. Macro-nutrients are nutrients that trees need the most and is frequently deficient in a tree. Signs are reduced growth, smaller leaves and the yellowing of leaves. Secondary nutrients or nutrients needed in moderate amounts include phosphorus, potassium and sulfur. Micro-nutrients are nutrients that trees need in small amounts.

Many times it can be hard to tell what nutrient is deficient as the symptoms may overlap. However, it is worth finding as you may be wasting fertilizer on a tree that needs something different. If you see leaf discoloration or other unhealthy signs on the bark, test the tree to get an idea of what might be missing.

Tree fertilization application techniques vary based on the foliage, tree condition, the time of year and your preference for using "greener" techniques.

1. Surface Application

The fertilizer is broadcast over the ground surface using a spreader. The advantageis it's ease, with very little special equipment required. The disadvantage is lots of residual chemicals on your lawn.

2. Sub-surface Application

Sub-surface fertilization techniques are necessary when a tree is surrounded by turf grass or to limit chemical exposure. Turf grass absorbs nutrients more readily than tree root systems so the fertilizer must be applied below turf level. Subsurface fertilization techniques are also necessary where runoff water is common. Two common techniques are drill hole and injection.

The drill hole method involves drilling holes around the tree in concentric circles. Holes should extend to the drip line.
This allows you to put fertilizer deep enough that turf grass won't reach it but shallow enough so it doesn't leach
(drain away) especially during the rainy months of spring.

Liquid injection uses fertilizer, dissolved or suspended in water. The solution is injected into the soil using a soil
injection system. Advantages are better distribution and the benefit of adding water directly into the root zone.
A disadvantage is liquid injection can create dark, vigorous patches of grass. I sometimes recommend a lawn aeration and fertilization in conjunction with a liquid injection fertilization to combat that.

3. Foliar Application and Tree Injection

This involves spraying everything with FDA approved chemicals. Which is OK, as long as we remember that DDT
was a federally approved chemical at one point! Foliar application is a short term fix to correct minor elemental deficiencies of micro nutrients. Typically spraying the leaves works best in spring, right before a period of active growth.

Implants and injections are for minor nutrient deficiencies. Tree implants and injections provide a systemic application and can be combined with insect control. The main advantage is that it completely eliminates any residue outside of the tree. However, because it involves creating holes in the tree it is limited to a once a year process and trees have to be large enough to handle it. I always look to see if a tree is water stressed before doing this.

Finally, trees may not require additional fertilization at all. Over fertilization can burn out leaves or cause
a tree to grow too quickly resulting in frequent pruning or removal. In Denver or other dry climates, homeowners may fertilizea tree that actually just needs a deep root watering.