To use color or not to use color, that is the question
For many the concept of color especially in design and architecture seems to be a huge obstacle and outright dilemma. Color is probably one of the most difficult elements of design for the untrained eye to interpret.
So many factors affect how you see color and once you visually register a color your brain will kick into action and either consciously or subconsciously dictate how that color affects your mood.
Here is an interesting fact; the human eye can discern as many as 10 million colors! In our professions we've been trained to not only deal with the visual interpretation and impact of color but also the psychology of color. If you do not understand the concept of color it can seem like a daunting task when you try to use it.
How many of you have gone to the local paint store; selected a swatch from the vast display and thinking that it was the most perfect color for your space later realized that your freshly painted walls fall short of your expectations? Does it make you feel better if we tell you that this is a common occurrence? There is a reason why paint manufacturers have now started to make the small ready mixed samples and it is mainly because they are trying to make selecting a paint color more "user friendly."
Below are some factors that can cause color to "Go Wrong". We prefer to call this our Top 10 List:
1. Natural Light vs. Enhanced Lighting
2. Size of the room
3. Existing elements in the room such as carpeting, furnishings, window treatments, etc.
4. Paint swatches are not a true representation of the exact color
5. Old color below the new color you just painted
6. Time of day [shadows and shading]
7. Sunlight [especially if you are selecting colors for your exterior]
8. Sheen of the paint [also known as the "finish"]
9. Color selected is inappropriate for the use of the room
10. "Suggested" use of color combinations presented on the paint manufacturer's brochure might not be right for your application or space because of any of the above!
Color is a very tricky element of design albeit a very necessary one. In Janet's 19 years she has created and worked with many color palettes. Janet finds that it is always best to pick a paint color from an established color or element in the room such as fabric, carpet, furnishings or even artwork. If you are selecting colors for an exterior space then it is best to look at the existing elements of the exterior such as the roofing material; stone, trim, landscaping, etc. If you are building new then truly you need to select all of your finish elements or at least some of them to begin the creation of a material as well as a color palette.
Here are some other pointers to consider when painting your interior:
Ceilings should be a different color than your walls. They are two different surfaces and treating them differently will create dimension and add visual interest.
Ceilings should always be in a flat finish.
Colorful furnishings? Then balance the room by using a subtle color on your walls.
Consider painting rooms different colors as this will add uniqueness to your décor.
Don't make the mistake of jumping from bright to cool colors room to room as this can make your décor appear disconnected.
There should always be a "flow" with regard to color as you go from room to room.
Don't change colors too drastically; use either a complimentary palette or a monotone color palette.
Accent walls are great for creating the illusion of depth or width in a room. Don't just paint an accent wall without forethought; make sure you do it with a purpose otherwise it could look odd and actually throw the room "off balance."
It is our experience that the correct color will "make a room." Janet has been known to tell her clients that "a room should be beautiful without a piece of furniture." With this being said you can probably guess our answer to the initial question; To use color or not to use color? The response is a resounding YES to the Use of Color. You should make [paint] color an integral part of your décor.
True Experience from Janet:
On one of my recent projects it took seven samples to come up with the perfect exterior color for a home remodel. There were many elements to "pull colors from" such as the new stone on the exterior; the new pavers in the courtyard; the new landscaping, the existing roof tile color, etc.
Even though I am an expert with the use of color it takes some planning and a little time in order to achieve the perfect color palette. The time spent is well worth the final result because this homeowner now has their neighbors stopping by to ask "What color did you use for the exterior? ... We love it." Their house which is a single-story home nestled between several two-story homes now stands apart from all the others in the neighborhood ... in a good way!
If you have an experience with regard to the use of color or any challenges you have encountered we'd love to hear it.