Choosing a color for the walls sends most homeowners into paint overload. They either have no idea where to begin or they select every paint chip available in the home improvement store.
For those consumers and everyone in-between, design consultant Cindy Lee Bergerson has some simple advice - think about the big picture.
"Devise a color plan that makes sense for your whole residence," she writes in her home design column for Hamptons.com. "The goal is to give your rooms a cohesive look as a unified environment."
A good way to implement Bergersen's advice is to paint no more than four colors throughout a residence and to unify all of them with the same trim and molding. A wall color in one room can be the ceiling color elsewhere in the home.
"Another method is to use only one color family," Bergersen advises. "Choose the lighter tones for the public spaces and the darker tones as you move back into the private areas."
In addition, the hallways should be painted the same neutral to tie different areas together. The ceiling can be a pale shade of the wall color used in a room. Or, for a bolder palette, paint the ceiling an accent color.
On her website, DecodingDecor.com, Bergersen suggests an easy way to test different colors without painting large practice swatches around the house. Instead, paint two coats onto a sheet of white foam core - available at arts and crafts supply stores - and move these sample boards around a room at different times of the day to see the effects of natural light on the colors in both light and dark areas.
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New neutrals have developed to offset splashes of color
New palettes are developed by paint experts all the time, but a shift in neutrals usually takes a couple of years for the public to embrace new hues that serve as the backdrop for their more colorful furnishings.
Recently, interior designers have stepped up their use of oyster hues and variations of gray to replace the more traditional beiges in the neutral zone. Finishes have increasingly taken a bigger role in the final product.
"Everyone knows what flat, eggshell and glossy finishes are, but they don't know about finishes in between," Washington D.C. interior designer Tracy Morris told the Washington Examiner.
Those include a matte finish that's a midway point between flat and eggshell, but contains porcelain dust for easier cleaning. Likewise, pearly finishes fall between eggshell and semi-gloss, and stand up well in bathrooms and other areas that retain moisture. An Ace Hardware promotion code will point consumers in the direction of extra savings and solid advice on what paint products will work best in their homes.
Interior decorator Susan Beimler, whose work is featured in the design book, Farrow and Ball: The Art of Color, likes to water down colors for a serene feel. In her Florida condominium, she uses tones of sand and watery blue to reflect the ocean shore. "The palette has become more neutral, but they are interesting neutrals taken from nature," she said.
Designer Jonathan Adler, who wrote the book Happy Chic Colors, points out the importance of balancing neutral backgrounds with brighter accent colors and patterns. His top design tips aren't always for the faint-hearted - such as painting floors white and front doors orange - but they are sure to encourage homeowners to venture into new directions they haven't tried before.
"Mix and match with panache," he told the magazine. "Don’t be tentative with patterns. If you keep your color scheme restrained, you can approach patterns with wild abandon."
Color choices may reflect the tone of the times
When honeysuckle rose was announced earlier this year as 2011's color of the year by the New Jersey-based Pantone Color Institute, paint experts weren't surprised by the choice. The Epoch Times reports that the choice of such a vibrant hue at a time when there are glimmers of better economic times ahead isn't by chance.
"In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going and is perfect to ward off the blues," Pantone's executive director Leatrice Eiseman told the newspaper.
In fact, Pantone's choice of colors for the previous decade included several shades of blue - including last year's cool turquoise - a couple of reds and sand, signalling the ups and downs of the financial landscape.
In home décor, Pantone suggests that honeysuckle rose can add a lively look to interiors in any room - bedspreads in the bedroom, small appliances in the kitchen, tabletop accessories in the dining room and pillows in the living room, according to the newspaper.
It might take on a bolder role in a more casual space such as a family room, where there are loads of activities to reflect the color's brightness. Painting the hue on an accent wall or taking it into a hallway that connects two major rooms are other ways in which the institute's new color can be used effectively.
With the use of warm colors to perk up a space and cool colors to evoke a sense of peace and relaxation, a white-based color scheme may seem dull in comparison. Not so, according to designer Shari Hiller, best known for her work on HGTV's Room by Room.
A white-on-white palette can be a challenging color scheme that takes some effort to strike the right balance, but it comes with one big advantage - white goes well with any accent color.
"White works well as a monochromatic palette because it reflects a great deal of light, allowing accent colors in the room to pop," she writes on the website, MattAndShari.com. "Since changing the accent colors in a room can be as simple as changing a few pillows and pieces of artwork, an all white room can easily be accessorized for every season."
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