COLOR SCHEMES and Design
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 firstname.lastname@example.org