The Courage for Color

My calendar is pretty full:  family rooms, dining rooms and kitchens dominate my life.  But really, that’s not what consumes most people’s minds.

For every sofa that I buy someone, I’m asked three times what color paint people should choose.  That big wall of paint color strips can be intimidating!  Tons and tons of blues, reds and yellows, all different shades, tones, finishes.  Many people just seize up:  what if what they choose is wrong?  They will have to live with that banana yellow forever or they will have to spend another weekend repainting or more money on a painter.  And let’s face it, painters HATE having to redo a room as much as you do.

So they do nothing.  They live with builder beige walls, devoid of personality and life.  And they spend a lot of time and money trying to get life from furnishings and accessories.  And it never works.

Nothing and I mean NOTHING else gives your room what color does:  the warm and fuzzies, the instant explosion change and an inexpensive design element.  Paint should be included in each and every decorating plan.

But where do you START?  How can you choose?

Color is emotion, pure and raw.  I’ll always ask a client how they want the room to feel before I ask how they want the room to function.  Selecting the emotion means selecting your color.  How do you want that room to feel?

Red will create energy

Orange is warm and cheerful

Yellow is happy

Green is calming

Blue is serene

Purple is magical

Brown is dependable

Black is mysterious and dramatic

White is clean and sterile

Did you ever wonder why the President’s suit during the State of the Union address is always navy blue?  Navy is associated with being authoritative, classic, strong and dependable.  And the red tie?  Strength and Power.  Check out your closet:  it’s your cheat sheet of the colors that make you happy and should surround you.

Once you have that nailed down, it’s pretty much smooth sailing from there.

As a designer, I like to find some inspiration piece being used in the space to serve as a color palette.  Using a piece of art, area rug or pillow is a foolproof way to ensure your colors play nice.

And please take some advice:  Don’t paint first and find inspiration pieces afterwards.  Trust me:  I’ve spent the better part of the weekend making Lazy Gray get along with some fabrics.  It’s much more challenging.  Paint colors should always be chosen as the last piece of the puzzle.

Color can also fix what you hate about your  space.  Cooler colors push walls out, basically stretching the space.  I love them for town homes and interior hallways.  Long hallways appear shorter if the end wall is painted in a warmer color.  Small spaces seem larger if the same color on the walls as is rooted in the floor.  And those high ceilings?  They will seem lower if you paint them darker.

Before you marry your color, make sure to try it first.  Most manufacturers have sample sizes for about $5.  Paint HUGE spots all over the room.  It should look like Swiss cheese.  Live with it for 48 hours.  Look at it different times of the day:  the sun plays tricks on color and what may seem like the perfect color now, may not later.  You’ll also need to see it when there’s no sun at all.  What does it look like with your lighting?  Feel free to explain to your spouse that getting up at 2:00 am is to check out the paint color and not to finish up the fried chicken from dinner.

Still love the way it make you feel?  Grab your grubby jeans, a paint roller and work it!


Colorful Facts

  • Red increases appetites.  It’s why dining rooms wear it
  • Yellow increases your blood pressure, blue lowers it
  • Brown had a resurgence since Starbucks opened nationwide
  • Little kids learn better with bright colors. Older ones in softer colors.

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