Cindy Bailen
Color Consultant
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The wonderful world of colors
Picking the Perfect Palette for your palace
When you were a kid, you loved using all 64 crayons in the box. So why are the walls of your current home white or beige?
Color expert Bonnie Rosser Krims believes many homeowners choose white or off-white because “it’s safe. People do it because they want to move into a freshly painted place and haven’t got any idea what color to paint the rooms.?/h5>
Paint is a relatively inexpensive and dramatic way to change the look of a home. But where do you start? It’s not by looking at 2,000 tiny chips at the paint store. Krims, author of “The Perfect Palette?(Warner Books), advises us to base color choices on existing furnishings. “You need to use what you’ve got as a launching point,?she says.
You don’t need to own a Persian carpet or fine art to have an inspiration piece, although if you have them, it’s a great place to start. The colors in a throw rug or couch pillow may suggest some ideas for wall colors. And if you’re stuck for inspiration, you may even look inside your closet. The colors you find there are likely to be colors you would enjoy living with on your walls.
You always have to work around the more permanent features of a room. Floor tile or carpeting, the wood veneer on your piano, a granite countertop or a sofa that your family finds comfortable are more difficult to change than paint. Select your wall color with these in mind.
Let’s assume your source of inspiration for color is the upholstery fabric on your couch. You could then use the background color for the walls of that room, and a couple of the other colors in the print for accents. To help the colors “walk? through your home, repeat the two accent colors on the walls of two adjacent rooms. An advantage of this approach is that you can move your accessories and furnishings from room to room, and they will still coordinate.
To further unify the look, paint all the trim the same color. Linen white, which has some yellow in it, and the soft-looking white dove are off-whites that work with many wall colors. Krims likes Benjamin Moore’s atrium white, a very bright white with a slight pink undertone.
An alternative to using white trim is painting one room’s wall color on another room’s trim. Or even on the ceiling. There is no rule that says ceilings have to be white. A pale blue ceiling can suggest the sky. Even if you are not an artist, you can sponge on a few puffy clouds, and have something pleasant to look at as you lie in bed. If you have a home with a high ceiling in the foyer, painting the ceiling a darker color than the walls, for example, a warm beige, will add warmth to the space and can connect with other colors you’re using below.
Be aware of how light in a room can affect the way the colors look. A shade of wall paint that looks lively in a sunny room can be depressing in a room with little natural light. Krims says that jewel tones are very nice in small spaces. Deep colors like ruby red, cobalt blue and emerald green have an electric quality that can enliven a diminutive room or a hallway. The sheen or finish of a paint is important, too. An eggshell or satin finish will reflect more light than a flat wall paint. Semi-gloss is used for trim.
Although painting is a relatively easy way to implement a big change in the look of your home, it’s not effortless. To avoid having to repaint once you’ve started, always test the colors you’ve chosen before painting the whole room. Colors look different on the wall than they do on little chips.
Some decorating stores have a “rent-a-quart?program to allow you to try before you buy. If your paint store does not offer this, then purchase a quart of each color you have in mind. Buy several large pieces of white poster board from a stationery store. Then, paint the boards with the colors you’re considering, hang them up in the room you plan to paint, compare them with the pieces you’d like them to complement, and live with them for a while. Leaving an unpainted white border around the edge of the board may help you to see the undertones in the color.
Braver souls can prime and paint a large swatch of color directly onto the wall to try it out. Krims recommends taking a painting or a mirror off the wall and using that space to test colors. But she warns, “You need to get two coats on. You can’t just put on a thin, single coat and get any concept of what the color is going to look like.?Once you’ve decided on a color and painted a couple of coats onto your wall, allow time for everyone to get used to it, especially if the change is a dramatic one.
For more suggestions on using color in your home, the major paint companies offer Web sites. Two to get you started are and Krims also has a Web site, with advice on specific paint colors, at
Images and text © 2004-2020 Cindy Bailen, Color Consultant - web spun by jb

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