Sometimes inspiration comes from artwork, a theme or a individual’s personality. Other times, it comes from working around a piece of furniture that is overwhelming a space. There are some colors that I’m just not crazy about. I don’t design rooms that use these colors on the wall. I’m happy for them to be used in accent pieces, but not as the focal point. However, many times clients choose to keep existing pieces due to budget.
As I designer I need to figure out how to pull the room together and de-emphasize what I feel is a piece that is overwhelming the room either due to color, pattern or size. For example, imagine a bold yellow sofa (and I mean YELLOW) that immediately draws the eye and does not allow you to see anything else in the room. My client was very happy with the yellow sofa and was not interested in reupholstering it.
Fortunately the yellow uphostery fabric had woven pattern in the shape of leaves. I had already seen a patterned drapery fabric, which I loved, that had a leaf type pattern. I often see fabrics that just speak to me and I keep them in mind as I’m working with various clients. This drapery fabric did not have any yellow in it, but did have flecks of gold and it picked up the leaf pattern from the sofa upholstery. The drapery fabric also introduced other, neutral, yet warm colors such as a silvery gray and taupe. I had pillows made using the taupe color for use on the sofa. They help to soften the impact of the yellow and draw the eye around the room.
As we are all giving thanks for the bounty of this season, let’s give thanks to the inspirations it provides:
– Warmth comes from more than a fireplace, it comes for the color that infuses a room and the people sharing it with you
– Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, my job as a designer is to help you find your personal kind of beauty for your home
– Happiness comes from within and is evident in how our homes reflect our personalities and our interests
I’m grateful for the influences that come from nature, a painting or an emotion. They are translated by the use of fabrics, paints, rugs, floor treatments, architectural design elements, window treatments, pieces of art, lighting fixtures and other accessories into warm, beautiful happy spaces.
Color selection is a thoughtful and sometimes time-consuming process. As a designer, I cannot just pick any color! In fact, some colors have so many nuances and undertones, that it can be challenging to select the right ones. Some factors influencing wall color selection include:
- window direction and natural light
- artificial light
- wall color in adjacent rooms
- existing furniture and fabrics
- rug colors and patterns
Sometimes the key is to find and use the unusual color. I don’t mean a color that no one else has used. Or, a color that will make people raise their eyebrows. I mean the color that may not be immediately obvious.
I’ve recently completed a revamp in a Carnegie Hill Classic. The dining room has an open entryway to the living room, therefore the living room colors influence those in the dining room. The dining room only received natural light from a north facing window. The client elected to keep the existing oriental rug in the living room and the existing furniture in both rooms..
On the surface, the oriental rug had a pattern of blues and little coral on an ivory background. To get a better understanding of the colors, I turned the rug over. This is one of my design tricks for understanding color and it works on both rugs and fabric. Look at the back of your rug or fabric. You will have a different perspective of the colors used. You will see ALL the colors used in the design. Then consider using the least prominent color for your wall color.
Using the least prominent color, in a rug or other fabric, will pull everything together. Why? Because this color is an undertone in the room.
I’m working on a bedroom right now. The room has a northern exposure which means it feels darker. My goal is to help the room feel brighter and larger. One way to achieve this is to raise the ceiling – at least visually if not physically.
It is possible to create the illusion of space and lightness by selecting a color and finish that adds a sparkle to the room. In this room, we selected a pale blue, glossy finish for the ceiling. The pale blue draws the eye up while the glossy finish reflects light. The combination of color and shine makes the ceiling appear higher than it actually is. The room feels brighter. This is similar to the use of mirrors to make a small room feel larger.
When you are thinking about painting a room, consider the purpose of the room, lighting exposures, traffic flow, artwork, window treatments, furniture and use of complementary or contrasting colors.