It always seems like a good idea until you actually have to paint!
You’ve decided to paint. Maybe just the kitchen or the den. Maybe your entire home. Maybe it came to you in a flash – like an epiphany. Or maybe you’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time. Whether it’s a sudden desire to refresh an old room or the much anticipated moment of (finally!) putting the finishing touches on a new build, you need to pick paint color.
You’re armed with an exorbitant amount of excitement, a list of favorite color schemes, and new found inspiration from a recent HGTV binge. Off to the paint store you optimistically go!
Fast forward to you staring at a wall of sample colors, frozen. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever gotten to the paint store to be stopped in your tracks by that big ‘ole color wheel? What you thought would be so simple can get overwhelming fast. The sheer number of choices alone can make your head spin. I mean, how many shades of white can there actually be?
How To Use Light To Find Your Perfect Shade
The most natural thing to do when you first decide to paint a room is to go to your local hardware store and stare at a display of hundreds and hundreds of paint swatches. It’s also probably the absolute least effective way to choose your perfect color. Before we go into exactly why you should stop obsessing in front of that Benjamin Moore rack, let’s take a moment to appreciate the nature and essence of color.
Color can take your breath away. Has a pink and orange sky ever stopped you in your tracks? Or maybe you’ve been caught off guard by how bright and red the moon was? And then there’s the awe inspiring beauty of the water.
Sea Changes: The Shifting Relationship of Color & Light
We’re lucky – Evenflow Interiors is headquartered right near the Atlantic. One of the most amazing things about living near the beach is that the ocean is a different color every day. That’s just the way color works. It’s never a fixed thing – it changes with the light, and by the other colors around it. When you grab your morning coffee, the shoreline might be a bright, royal blue. By the time you leave work it could have turned a flat, cold green-gray. It’s beautiful, complicated and fluid.
Color isn’t just decorative, it’s interactive. It changes depending on what surrounds it. And it changes the things it surrounds. Color affects mood and influences energy levels. It’s used in everything from skin treatments to acupuncture and mood therapy. There’s a whole psychology to color. It can attract us or repel us. It can immediately draw our attention somewhere, or blend quietly into the scenery. Some people dedicate entire careers to studying the science of color. It’s smart to invest in some help when designing your color choices.
The Story of Your House: Shoot Your Perfect (Imaginary) Home Video
Got any old home movies? Like the kind in those grayish gold circular tins? Or maybe some dusty VHS tapes of family holidays? A slew of iPhone videos? It really doesn’t matter what format, just think about those home videos for a minute. Now imagine your own absolutely perfect home movie set in this new space. What does it look like? What is happening here? Start with the big picture but look for the details, too. What’s the landscape like? Where is the home set? Is it in a highrise? Or deep in the country? Is there a waterview? Or maybe a lot of wood?
Your house has a story. Think of how you want it to read. Imagine yourself, your family, your friends – all enjoying your perfect, magical dream home. What does that look like? What images come up? Dream big, but get specific.
7 Questions to Ask Before You Even Think About Color
Need some help with that visualization stuff? Ask these 7 questions to help you picture the ideal colors for your home:
- Who lives here?
- Who visits here?
- How will this room actually be used?
- What time of the day will it actually be used?
- What direction (North, South, West, East) does the room face?
- How many windows are there? How much light do they bring in?
- Is it on the ground floor, or in a higher, airier, space?
Ultimately, let the house shape the story. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a dining room with a deep red wall, or a bright yellow kitchen, but that could change when you see those actual rooms in your home. Know your landscape, hardscape, and study the lighting. If a mature, majestic tree blocks the windows in your living room, you’ll want to factor that into your color plan. Stay flexible and open.
Your Color Scheme?
You May Be Sitting On It. Literally.
Once you’ve considered your basic home setting, you can narrow your design focus and start thinking about color. Color is a science. And while science does prove certain colors have an impact on things like productivity, relaxation and hunger, it’s a mistake to center your design choices around color psychology. We truly thrive when we feel comfortable, happy, and inspired in a space, and different people have a natural proclivity to different colors. It would be far too limiting to restrict design to rigid, tested color schemes.
So how do you start to figure out color?
Chances are you have some special items you plan to incorporate into your new space. Things like a favorite painting, a hand knit blanket, or a family antique. Maybe an embroidered cushion from your Grandmother. Inspiration is everywhere. Start looking at your stuff for “sparks” – those bits of color and fabric that catch your eye. Then pull fabrics that highlight and complement your favorite things.
From Color Combinations to Chroma, Factor in Finishing Touches
For the record, all color is wonderful. Each and every shade. But not all color is wonderful in every space, or in every combination.
This is where a professional designer can save the day. It’s our job to be well-versed in color. Not only do we know what colors work great together generally, we factor in the subtle specifics of each shade. We look at chroma, or the intensity and purity of each color. We consider what the trim around the room will be. We know which sheen works best in which place, and we’re experts at pairing the right palettes together.
To achieve your dream color scheme, you need to balance multiple factors. So step away from the color wheel next to the paint display. The color on that piece of paper under fluorescent lights at the store will look nothing like it will in your bathroom. Before you pick up a paint sample, make sure you do your homework. Otherwise, someone else’s perfect shade of gray could be your washed out disaster.