You have probably read articles on the theory of color. You may be familiar with the color wheel and the relationships of colors around the wheel. Color combinations can be analogous, complementary, monochromatic or achromatic. The knowledge of color theories and how color affects people is fundamental knowledge to the professional Interior Designer. What does all of this information really mean to the average person trying to choose a paint color?
The most important thing to consider in choosing color is an individual’s response to color. Color affects us – psychologically, physiologically and emotionally. Our response to color is learned, it is geographic, regional and cultural. We respond to color differently in varying lights and climates. Our preferences for color can change as our income level changes and as we expand our life experiences. We will want to choose different colors to create different feelings.
As a professional Interior Designer, when I am asked to help a client choose a paint color, the first question I always ask is – “What do you want your space to feel like?” So a verbal description will give me indicators such as, formal, elegant, comfortable, lived-in, casual, welcoming, soft, dramatic, rich or cheerful. However, the problem with a verbal description is, all of those words will mean different things to different people. It’s a necessary and very important start, but now I need to determine how comfortable the client is with color. So the next step is to have the client collect pictures of spaces that really appeal to them. A picture goes a long way in adding to the definition of “elegant” or “cheerful”. Pictures give me an indication of how comfortable the client is with color, and what colors mean to them.
The next step is to look at the existing interior furnishings. If the client is ready to purchase new furniture, I would recommend that they do that prior to choosing a paint color. The reason being is – they may find one sofa that they really like, but there are thousands of paint colors. It is best to choose first, the items in which you will have the least choice. Paint color is the last thing to be chosen. It will be chosen to highlight the parts of the room that you wish to highlight, and complement all the components of the room. Perhaps you want to highlight your beautiful antique furnishings, your artwork, your view or some architectural features. Choosing color is all about balance, proportion, scale, harmony, emphasis and personal response. You have to know what you want to create. What do you want your space to feel like? Elegant can be created in a tone on tone taupe color scheme. Or it can be created using dark, intense colors. Which one is your definition of elegant? Or your definition could be one of a hundred more. There are many ways to create “elegant” successfully.
So now it’s time to choose a paint color. A professional has large paint samples from all of the paint companies. You can specify which company you want to buy from or they can offer advice. It is best to choose your color during day light. Look at the color against a white background. This can be done by putting a sheet of paper behind the sample. Compare the color to something you already know. Move the color around to different walls. It will look different each time you put it in a new location. If you think you have found a color that you are happy with, live with it for a few days. Look at the color sample under different lights – daylight, incandescent lighting after dark, cloudy days and sunny days. Are you happy with the color under all of these conditions?
If the color still looks good – PAINT!! Have fun with color. It is really important to spend the time choosing the right color, and requesting the assistance of a professional. Paint does occupy the largest surface area of your color palette. So if it’s right, it’s going to look fabulous. But if it’s not quite right, it could make you and your family feel really uncomfortable. The best thing about painting is – it’s the least expensive thing to change when you decide to recreate. So have fun with it! Express yourself!