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Making Color Work for You

Making Color Work for You

Don't fear picking the right color

Don’t fear picking the right color

Color is a personal choice. It evokes particular feelings and creates a sense of place for us. For some color can cause people to recoil in fear and panic and lead to paralysis. They can feel overwhelmed when faced with a palette of 500 choices and default to beige, white or some other neutral because they fear they’ll make the “wrong” choice. Calling on a trusted professional to help guide them to that best choice helps simplify and demystify the process.

When I am working with a paint consultation, I take into consideration the existing colors, if they have any ideas about what they want, the light of the room and the existing furnishings. We all have our favorite and least favorite colors. When I ask clients any colors they like or don’t like, I am whittling down the choices to hone in on a specific area of color. Bright, saturated colors are generally an easy one to eliminate unless we are painting a kid’s room. And dark, moody tones aren’t a general choice though, in the right room, can be striking and dramatic. By doing my initial investigative work, I can cut away a large selection of colors so we can get closer to our choice.

Next, I explain about light and light reflective values in paint. Light is constantly bouncing off of surfaces and an East, South or West facing window will naturally have lots of light entering at specific times of the day. We get natural light from the sun and outside world as well as from lighting inside that creates reflection and light to bounce off various surfaces. White paint has the highest reflective value and derivations thereof. The more white the paint holds, the higher the reflective value and as you move down the paint strip, the light value decreases whereby light is absorbed. What that means is if the room is already naturally bright, the room can take a darker shade or lower light reflective value which helps ground the space and helps balance the light intensity. Conversely, a naturally dark room, say a northern facing room that gets little natural light, needs the light values increased to help brighten the area and alleviate an oppressive feel.

As we start to focus on specifics, I have card with a square cut out of it which I use to isolate the color so the client will look at only that space. It works as a sort of view finder. I can hold the swatch and compare it to the existing color as well as add in accent colors or other colors we are considering as a process of elimination. It will show the light value and the undertones of another color that weren’t previously visible–one off white will look more yellow or more pink when compared to another. Clients are consistently surprised at this. We then check the colors to ensure they work with the existing furnishings and the room overall.

I then will guide clients to accent and trim colors to complete the space. Many default to painting trim and ceilings white because we think that’s what they are supposed to be. The ceiling, by the way light reflects off of surfaces and onto that space, is a naturally lighter surface. By painting the ceiling a lighter shade of the color used in the room or something that complements it in a lighter value, the ceiling becomes a part of the whole concept and isn’t this white patch that doesn’t necessarily relate to the room as a whole. A room with a 7′ ceiling needs a lighter shade to help lift it and keeps it from feeling like it’s closing in on us. A higher ceiling, say 10-12′, can take a darker color to help bring it closer to us and help the room feel more intimate.

Choosing colors can be tricky yet with many paint companies providing matching color combinations, it can help reduce the guess work. If you are feeling stuck with color specifics and need interior design help in Oakland, Walnut Creek, Marin, Berkeley and SF, call Creative Space Organizing at 510.501.1213 to help you choose the right color today.