Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Neutral Trap

I've noticed it happening, variations of 'current', safe warm/stone grays are taking front stage when I'm analyzing color ideas for a client.  This past week I worked with two different clients that weren't afraid of color and I found myself having to turn off the neutral button in my brain. What a nice pick me up!

Gray is still the 'new beige' but you can fall into neutral land just as easily with this update and have one color staring back at you in every room.  The trick to update a space without ending up just shifting from all beige or 'builder white' walls to all taupe or gray takes a little faith to think outside the conservative box.

Where do you start?  Color and fashion trends can help you determine what pops of color you are drawn to.   Navy blues? Yellows? Emerald Green? Burgundy?   Store Displays, catalogs, your own accessories, and the endless web pages or apps can give you a starting point.

Better Homes and Garden is one top starting point to gather ideas.

Leave yourself time to surf on Houzz.   If you haven't explored Houzz, you can look at any and all pictures posted by professionals, or you can narrow your search to a particular room or even exterior ideas.  Stop by my page while you're there.

My go-to color gallery is Benjamin Moore's online site.  Keep in mind computer screen calibrations can make colors look a little different on screen than in real life.  Stop into your local Benjamin Moore retailer to get color chips and paint samples.  (Correctly using paint samples is a whole new topic with rights and wrongs--new blog idea!)

What's interesting to me is the way to bring in a new color to your space without looking like you added it because its 'in'. 
Maybe you have a room so saturated with sunlight that a light neutral you like in a hallway will looked washed out or off-white.  Great opportunity to try something new, out-of-the-box, or even daring for color shy folks.

A two story foyer can welcome guests and family home with warmth and coziness if you stray from a 'neutral' and add some umph.  Keep in mind you may not change these tall walls' color as often as a powder room or a bedroom, but slightly more saturated, medium to darker color adds character to the walls while still giving the space a flow into the adjoining rooms.  Generally speaking this isn't necessarily the place to paint a vibrant color you can't easily change on your own--keep that energy for a less 'public' room.

Another way to bring color updates to a space without looking like you unleashed a box of crayons on your walls is to use one updated color in two different rooms, maybe even a third room on a different level  The lighting in each room can make a color look different, so you could have the appearance of monochromatic colors with the ease of one paint color to remember.  

One caution, the different lighting can make a perfect color in one space look like it spun in the shaker one time too many and got sick.  

I recently specified a light taupe color for a dark hallway.  Honestly I was pleasantly surprised that this color worked because it normally pulls a noticeable rather strong pink undertone.  True to from, when the client and I were looking at a potential bedroom color and I put the two colors together in the bedroom the taupe looked horrible.  Thanks to my trusty role of blue painter's tape I hung the hallway color in the hallway, and we correctly viewed the possible bedroom color that coordinated with the client's existing bedding in the bedroom, looking on to the taupe. Win win.

Feel like you want to update your house but can't paint or don't want to change every room?  Tying in a current color in one space can give existing rooms a new feel.  
Instead of all neutral or white in every room, change up a den, dining room or kitchen with a color that is analogous (on the same side of the color wheel of your current main color) and similar in value (depth of color). There will be a difference, but it will be subtle so your eyes won't come to a stop when you enter a particular room or look from one room to another.

If you feel like you are spinning your wheels, I would love to set up a color consulting appointment to see your challenge in your lighting.  Contact me!

Jill J. Wallace

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