Tag Archives: color

Coordinating Colors Throughout Your Home

You have probably experienced entering a home that seemed uncomfortably discordant, with a jarring transition from one room to the next. There are three primary causes for this: inconsistent decorating styles, drastic color jumps, or a lack of architectural detail.  Nine times out of ten, it will be an abrupt change in color scheme.  Perhaps pastels in one room, bright/saturated colors in another, dark/rich colors in the next, all neutrals in the next.  Colors evoke emotional responses.  When a home’s color schemes are chaotic, our emotions are too.

The Color Connection

Creating a color scheme that flows from room to room is not difficult. It all starts with choosing one color…perhaps your favorite color; perhaps a color chosen specifically to work with the other colors already in your home; perhaps one color already in your home that you really love.  If you thread that one color throughout your home, it will create a “connection” for the eye to follow as you pass from room to room, or look from one room into another.

whole house color scheme example

Photo credit: redheadedstepproject.com

How can one color be used in all your rooms yet still allow those rooms to have variety? The key is in variations on your connector color.  For instance, if yellow is your chosen color, lemon, French cream, wheat, harvest gold, and goldenrod are all yellows, yet their unique qualities make them compatible with different colors.  Variation can also be achieved by using different values of the same color, or in using the color in various ways and amounts in each room.

Let’s look at four different ways to make using one color (yellow) throughout your home successful:

Variation in Color – If you stay within the same color temperature (warm or cool), you can use different versions of your chosen color in each room and still maintain a visual connection.  For instance, you could use cream, lemon chiffon, wheat, straw, autumn gold, ochre, and antique gold….all warm varieties of the color that can work in different color schemes.  This is a good option when you are working with colors you already have in your home, because you simply need to select a variation on the “connector” color to suit each room’s scheme.

color and value scale imageVariation in Value – Choosing one color – let’s say straw yellow – and using it throughout your home in varying values (light to dark) is another option for creating a connection between rooms.  The name of the color will, of course, change with its value.  But they are still based on the same color. (Go to your paint store and look at their sample cards; those strips of one color in shades from light to dark and a name for each one.)  Base your value choices on the room’s decorating style, the feel you want to achieve, the other colors in the room, and where you will use the color.  Do you want your yellow to stand out as a pop of color or light amidst darker or subdued tones?  Does your room have mostly light value colors and need a darker tone to “ground” it?  Is the color going on a whole wall, or just a pillow?  Using varied values is a good option when you are working with existing color schemes, as you are only altering the value of the “connector” color you are adding.

Threading the same Color throughout – Perhaps the easiest way to connection your rooms, is by using the same color (without variation in value) throughout your home, though it does take more up-front thought if you are working with existing color schemes.  When your chosen color is paired with different colors in each room, you achieve both continuity and variety.  Again, using straw as an example, you might pair it with cranberry in the dining room; with sage green in the kitchen; with chocolate brown in the living room; with taupe in the entry; with coral in the bath; with navy blue, plum, and burnt orange in the bedrooms.  This option can be the addition of a color that works with your existing room color schemes, or it can be a starting point for a new home or a re-design project.

Variation in Quantity – Your chosen “connector” color doesn’t always need to be just an accent in each room.  It can also be used as the primary color, such as the wall color; as a secondary color in a smaller amount than your primary color, such as drapes; or as an accent in small “pops” of color that stand out against the room’s other colors, such as accessories like pillows or lamps.  It can even be used on the woodwork throughout your home.  To make the quantity method work, be sure to adjust your color to suit its use, or make sure your use suits the color’s value and intensity.  For instance, lemon yellow might be too intense to use on all your walls (or even one), but perfect for an accent or in a pattern.  This option is especially helpful when working with existing color schemes, because it gives you so much flexibility.

variations on yellowFinally, although it’s trickier to do successfully, you can also use Variation on a Color.  Each color varies in value, intensity, and temperature.  For instance, sage green is a cool to neutral, low intensity color that can be used in various values.  Pine green is a cool, low intensity, dark value color.  Each of these greens have a different variety of colors that they pair well with. Using different variations on a color allows you the most variety in your color schemes, but can look random and chaotic if you’re not careful….much like a patchwork scrap quilt.  Limiting the number of greens and keeping them in the same temperature makes for the most successful use of this option.

There are a couple additional ways to create visual “flow” in your home: maintaining the same color temperature (warm or cool) in all your rooms, and maintaining similar values and intensities in your color schemes. Combine these with choosing and “threading” a connector color throughout your home and you will create a smooth transition between your rooms.

Where a Decorating Project Starts

When you are approaching a decorating project, it’s a lot like a writer or artist facing the blank page or canvas. Where do you start?  You need an idea – inspiration: something that excites you and makes want to look at it and live with it every day.

Decorating projects often begin because you see a trend that “inspires” you, but don’t just follow a trend; find your own, unique inspiration. The stores and internet are filled with trendy items, which they are hoping you will buy every couple of years as the trends change.  But trends are over-done, short-lived, and usually look “staged”.  True inspiration is an ethereal thing, triggered by an emotional response to a sight, sound, smell, even a flavor or word – so take note of it when it appears!  Finding YOUR decorating inspiration comes from being aware of what you are drawn to and responding to, and somehow keeping track of these.

decorating sampleboardThe inspiration for your room could begin with a color, object, era, place, piece of furniture, artwork, or even your profession or hobby. You may find it in a store display, museum, book, magazine, while on a trip, on the Internet, shopping, or watching a movie.  Even the grocery store, a community event, or a walk through your neighborhood can be a source of inspiration.  The opportunities are endless, and different for everyone.  You need to find YOUR inspiration.  That’s where your decorating project begins!

How do you capture the many sources of inspiration? Your Smartphone is great for keeping a photographic record of what inspires you, either random images that you love or items and rooms that grab your attention.  Collecting color samples, fabric swatches, brochures, and other representations of what you find appealing (make sure you keep track of where you found these) is important too.  When you can’t physically or visually capture ideas, a small notebook or a memo app on your Smartphone will allow you to jot down ideas on the run.  You will soon see a pattern develop in what you are drawn to, and that’s where your decorating plan should start.

Decorators and Designers use a “presentation board” to plan-out a project, and to present it to their client in a way that they can “see” how their room will look.  It brings together samples or photos of the paint, wood, flooring, fabrics, furniture, lighting, fixtures, cabinets, window treatments – all the elements they have chosen to decorate a room.  You can do the same on a bulletin board or piece of foam board. Pinterest is also a great tool, allowing you to create an “inspiration board” of images online.  This will be very helpful if you plan to use a decorator or designer for your project, as they will need a starting point from you; images that will guide them in what look you have in mind.

So, once you have your inspiration, where do you go from there? Base all your selections on your inspiration; it will guide the style of the room, and you can pull all your colors directly from that item.  Usually, the most expensive and long-lived items (furniture, carpet, wallpaper, cabinetry, and fixtures) are chosen first.  If you intend to use patterned wallpaper, drapes, or bedding, they should be chosen first, followed by those expensive and long-lived items that may remain the next time your room is re-decorated.  The final selections will include your paint, accessories, and solid-colored fabrics.  There are thousands of colors of paint and custom colors are now possible, so they are usually chosen last.

Whatever you choose for your inspiration – or if you need help finding that inspiration – working with an experienced Interior Decorator or Designer can help. Someone who is experienced in bringing personal inspirations to life can open your eyes to where your decorating project should start, and create a truly inspired room!

Energize Your Space with White

winterThe winter doldrums….why do we say that? Don’t we all admire a new coating of snow?  It’s clean, fresh and invigorating!  Sure, at first glance it’s just a mass of white; seemingly an endless blank canvas devoid of color.  But, fresh white snow is quite energizing and full of color when you really look at it!  And like snow, when white is used indoors, it has the same effect on us.

White, which is achromatic – a color without hue, contains the full spectrum of light. Maybe it’s because of this that we are energized by and draw optimism from it.  From a design point of view, white is a neutral – and, yes, a “blank canvas” – that acts as a support for other colors.  It also tends to take on the colors around it, lending it subtle to quite vibrant colors.

White offers the eye relief – a resting spot – when we are faced with many, bright or intense colors and patterns. And white adds a “clean”, fresh, and light feeling to a space, giving it an energy that lifts your mood.  There are, of course, pitfalls if it’s used indiscriminately: a sterile, stark, weightless, cold, or glaring feeling is possible.

So, how to use white in your interior? A design professional knows all the “rules” and a few tricks that make for a beautiful use of white.  Here are some tips you can use:

  • Make white the base – A background (walls, carpet, major Graber blinds white kitchen with orange accentsupholstered furniture) of white supports and accents your other colors, accessories, and furnishings. Choose these elements first, then the right version of white (warm or cool) to compliment them.  This is especially good for highlighting artwork or fine furniture.
  • White in a monochromatic scheme – White has a role in every monochromatic (single color) scheme as the lightest version of the color. Include white with just a tint of your chosen color to add energy and balance to the room.
  • Use white as an accent – Rich colors in your furnishings, floorswhite as an accent and walls are a great backdrop for accents of white, such as in drapes, pillows, throws, accessories, moldings, and artwork. This is a great way to bridge traditional architecture and modern design.
  • Make white interesting – To keep white from being boring or stark, use warmer, textured, or patterned versions and mix them. Look for white-on-white patterns and textures in fabrics, carpets, wallpapers, window treatments and accessories appropriate to your style.
  • Pair white with other neutrals – White used with other neutralwhite with other neutrals colors makes for a sophisticated and comfortable atmosphere. Neutrals may be basic browns and grays, or have hints of color (such as purple or green), and are enlivened with the addition of some variation on white.
  • Use white to let the light in – White window treatments (even if they are heavy drapes) “open up” windows and brighten your room. White blinds or shades under colored drapes will have the same brightening effect.
  • Give white the spotlight – An entirely white room, with just accents of color, make for bright and cheerful spaces ideal for sunrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. This is well-suited to minimalist, modern, or cottage-style spaces, depending on the materials and finishes used.
  • Add elegance with white – From minimal modern to gilt-edgedadd elegance with white traditional, or distressed shabby-chic, white lends these styles a kind of elegance (refinement and restraint) that the richest colors cannot achieve. White highlights quality materials and details, regardless of their age or condition.

Harness the energy of white in one of the many ways you can incorporate this color in your home, office or commercial space!