Saturday, March 17, 2012

Colour Confidence

by Janice Clements, Clement Interiors
paint samples Colour Confidence
Well, it seems like a simple concept.  You’ve heard from all the experts that a fresh coat of paint is the most economical and quickest solution to revitalizing any room.  How complicated can choosing a paint colour be, right?  No big deal.
Consider for a moment that Benjamin Moore alone has in excess of 3400 colours to select from!  Add in the colour palettes of Para, Farrow & Ball, Behr, and Pittsburgh to name just a few, and suddenly, finding a colour is kind of a big deal.
Like choosing baby names, colours can elicit strong reactions and emotions from people, potentially making the process of colour selection a painful endeavor.  Moreover, research shows the psychological responses to colour are numerous, from bringing up childhood memories (good or bad) or having an impact on one’s appetite, to affecting a person’s ability to sleep soundly.
From personal experience in helping clients select colours, I have learned over the years to avoid reference to the word “pink” when dealing particularly with males simply because the mere mention of this perceived feminine colour results in cringes more often associated with sucking lemons.  I worked for a newly married couple who ultimately chose a paint called “Maid of the Mist” because that was the place of their engagement.  Each of us has a distinct relationship with colour, but most do not approach it with much confidence.
So how do you improve your colour confidence?
Keep in mind that our eyes only recognize colour because it reflects light, so increase your chance of successfully selecting something appropriate by looking at colour options several times: in the morning, at midday, in the evening, on a bright day and on a day that’s overcast.  Each time, the appearance of the colours will change.  Be sure to make your selection while looking at the colour only on the surfaces on which it will be painted; do not make a final choice in another room or worse, at the paint store!  It can be difficult to make these choices in a room that is already painted, so open the blinds, turn on the lights and cover a small section of the walls with a couple of sheets of white printer paper.  Then place your paint chips on top of that paper so you can get an accurate view of the new colour options.
Emotions and lighting aside, most people do not consider is that colour is relative.  A colour only looks a certain way when it is placed next to another colour.  Put a pale blue paint chip beside a white one and the colour intensifies.  Place the same colour next to one more violet in tone and the blue may appear greener than when it is beside the white.  Colour comparisons are an important part of selecting colour and will help you eliminate what doesn’t work.  Knowing what doesn’t work is as important as knowing what does.
Of course, in making your selection, you want to get inspiration from other elements of your room, so look to a favorite sofa fabric or a much-loved piece of art and pull from them a colour you already love to get the ball rolling.  Remember if you think you will keep it simple by choosing white, whites also have subtle colour – some are cooler (bluer), some are warmer (yellower).  Be sure to compare them so you know what you’re getting.  Ask your paint supplier about the most popular whites available as they often work well with many colours.
While wall colour can be the one element that gives a room that wow factor, don’t feel it is your only option for establishing colour.  You can create a ‘blue’ room without putting a drop of blue paint on the walls, by introducing blue accessories and fabrics.  The paint colour you select can be more neutral in tone, creating a wonderful backdrop on which to highlight your fabrics, accessories and furniture.
I’m a firm believer that there is a right and wrong colour selection to be made, but colour preference is as individual as you are and is nothing if not subjective.  Your walls are likely the largest easel you will ever have to work with, so go ahead and have fun!  And remember, it’s just paint.


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