Fundamentally Color

Working with color makes a lot of people very nervous.  It seems as though the fear of making a mistake means we must live in all brown, all beige, or all white rooms.  Not very interesting or exciting.  The brave among us may buy a red pillow or something and wonder why it sticks out like a sore thumb and doesn’t add all the excitement we want.  So how do you work in a strong accent color like the pinks we showed on Wednesday or a lime green or azure blue?  Today’s Friday Fundamentals will be some simple tricks for overcoming our fear of color – and the best places to put it so we don’t have to live with mistakes for too long.

1. Buy paint last.  I can’t tell you how many times I have walked past a couple in front of the Home Depot paint swatches arguing over three shades of beige.  Your walls are a fantastic canvas and paint color does wonders for a room.  But it is likely the most impact for the least money with the most options.  So why start there?  Paint is the easiest thing to change later and the cheapest mistake you can make.  You’re $35 bucks a gallon and a rainy Saturday afternoon away from serious change.  The last thing you want is to fight, choose a shade, then go to get furniture and realize the shade you chose means you can’t have your dream sofa in less than three months.  Or your color palette is ahead or behind the curve on bedding and nothing trips your trigger.  And now, because of the UN Summit you and your significant other called over the two shades of beige, you remember how awful it was and never want to repeat the experience of paint selection again.  Believe me, much easier to choose (and be brave!) if this is the last decision you make.

2.  Paint a garage sale find a strong color.  Painting a piece of accent furniture is a great way to add color and interest to a space without a huge investment.  And if it is an accent piece (a wooden chair, a corner cabinet, display shelves) you won’t interact with it enough to worry about scratching the painted finish.  And because it probably cost all of 5 dollars, you won’t feel bad throwing it away if it turns out puce is not your thing.

3. Sprinkle a color family around the room.  When you use color, one piece of it is never enough, no matter how big that piece is.  Color must be integrated.  Stand in the doorway and scan the space with your eyes.  Everywhere you want your eyes to stop (sofa, lamps, artwork, fireplace, that dark corner, by the piano, whatever) add some of the color.  But not all exactly the same color.  If you’re working with red, vary the shade and texture slightly.  Red silk looks like a different color than red glass.  And red canvas curtains are another texture yet.  Similar, but not exactly the same, shades will add the interest you need without feeling like you bought a decorating kit.

4. Add some of the opposite color for even more interest.  Continuing with the red – a green plant in a red pot is a great way to add another color subtly and without going overboard.  Or if blue is more your style, a blue glass bowl with oranges on the table works well.

The bottom line is – control the investment you put in, whether it is money or time, and you will be more brave with your choices because you’ve got less to lose.  And an interesting, exciting, put-together space to gain.

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