Colors are among the most basic elements in any decor, yet many homeowners feel intimidated when choosing them.
Part of that experience is just the sheer number of choices; after you whittle down to the basic hues, other decisions await.
What intensity? How light or dark? Warm or cool tones? How much surface area will that color get? Will it be in paint, fabric or some other material?
The impact of colors changes with their context, either in small, nuanced ways or with such drastic differences that you’ll swear you chose something else entirely. That experience shouldn’t be equated with failure; it simply means you should expect some trial and error before you succeed.
Let’s start with the obvious. Suppose you are picking paint from samples on small color chips and under in-store lighting. The personality and impact is likely to be substantially different compared to seeing one of the same colors covering a wall or a whole room. Add abundant natural daylight or two different lamp sources at night, and colors can appear transformed.
Also consider that the colors will be seen in a bigger context, with flooring, a ceiling and furnishings. A truer representation of a color will appear there, with some variations as the light changes.
Still, there’s no reason to retreat to a safe palette of neutrals or off-whites. Most design professionals don’t get every color right on the first try, but they know how to get in the ballpark and then refine their choices from there.
Ever hear the old expression, “I don’t know a lot about art, but I know what I like”? Start with that approach when choosing colors. That’s one of the recommendations from the book “Color: The Complete Guide for Your Home,” new from Better Homes & Gardens publishing group.
Here are other tips from the book:
• When choosing colors, let your instincts be your guide, at least initially. Refine your choices with sound theory and practice.
• Your favorite clothes and your furnishings might help you better understand your color preferences. Other times, choices might be based on period architectural or decorating styles that you like.
Arts and Crafts designs, for example, feature mostly muted earth tones of green, brown and yellow, whereas modernist styles tend to highlight crisp contrasts of black and white and bold, bright colors for intensity.
• A home’s entry should not only bridge the flow from outdoor spaces but also establish some of the key color cues and moods to be found throughout the house. Some greens and earth tones, as well as a mix of textures, can make the transition more seamless while still allowing for other colors to be included in the mix. Similar strategies can be found for living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, kid’s rooms, bathrooms and porches.
• Adding color in stages can make decorating easier to pull off. A series of room makeovers in the book show the step-by-step progression of going from bland, neutral spaces to personalized festivals of color. It’s a technique that takes the book’s recommendations from abstract to immediate.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less