More Palettes – the Many Moods of Summer

Integral ColorViews Blog

Color—as a subject for discussion and also as an experience— is fun, exhilarating, fanciful, practical, and always interesting. Color use also has serious aspects. As a colorist, I look forward to sharing a wide range of tips, books, and color-and-design related subjects with you. You're invited to share your own color inspirations!

  • More Palettes – the Many Moods of Summer

    Here it is, only the end of July and yet it almost feels like “Summer” is over. Why is that? Time passes so quickly? Maybe it’s because we’re already seeing Fall fashions.

    But wait, there’s more!’ (ok where have we heard that before?) It is still happening and in a typically glorious way, too.  So, not really after the fact—but rather in reflecting on recent memory both mental and visual—I wanted to present a few color palette ideas based on natural surroundings and a few other things, too. After all, the “Many Moods of Summer” includes a lot! It’s not all sailing, sunny, and roses…we have some moody and darkly mysterious moments also. That’s what adds the dimensional quality, it seems to me. So whether it’s for paint colors interior or exterior,  your home or your workplace, fashion, or just another view of the world, new color  palettes can offer new inspiration.

    Obviously, like many of you I enjoy being inspired by color combinations that occur in nature. After all, that’s where it begins. There is of course the related risk of being redundant, or looking like a ‘copier.’ Yet, that’s not really been a problem for me. I just am inspired by and where inspiration strikes and, while I find it interesting to see what else is ‘out there,’ I’m  not really directed by the colors that others present.

     

    Fresh warmth of yellow roses

    Wake up to the sunny, fresh energy of yellows.

    The perfect range of yellows in golden roses, golden glow.

     

    Striated roses.

    Is this just a local type of rose? I have no idea! But they’re beautiful.

    I’ve never seen these before they popped up in our front yard! They elicit a smile every day.What a pleasure.

    Another viewpoint of rose-inspired colors.

    Another aspect of colors related to the same flowers.

    Same flowers, different interpretation.

     

    Multihued roses

    Translucent, multicolored petals spike the imagination.

    Looking past the most obvious view, the juicy-looking underside of another multicolored rose feels like sunset hues.

    A different view of the same rose

    Yet, such a different view from the top

    View from above, the same brilliant flower!

     

    Look past the subject, include the cool accents.

    Cool accents included

    Balance is key. As with many things, looking past the obvious adds dimension. In this case, it’s adding a little coolness from the surroundings.

    Speaking of dimension and balance, a trip one day to Point Reyes offered this surprise, moody inspiration.

    Peaceful color in Point Reyes

    A softly misty morning has a peaceful quality.

    And night skies provide a different kind of dramatic palette.

    Night time view on the road.

    Dramatic night skies

     

    Beautiful Bark.

    What is this? Bark on a tree. That is…Under the bark, the tree.

    A more “neutral” style of palette is inspired here by the swirling growth patterns of the tree and it’s amazing colors and shapes.

     

    Historic design.

    Antique stencilled wood.

    Pieces of antique wood taken from a historic building. Beautiful stencilled patterns and a lovely color combination that could create a mood that’s festive or calm. In person, of course, it’s even more impressive.

    Back to a favorite place for long walks, this is a peaceful location. The view is from a bridge.

    View from a bridge

    View of this waterway taken from a bridge.

    Similar, but each visit is a unique experience with something different to focus on. How can you not be inspired?

    A different experience

    Every visit to this area provides a different experience.

    Another tree, another world, a completely different look. But that’s no surprise, just inspiring.

    Tree bark

    More Bark!

    Back to the playground!

    Playground structure

    Fun in the Sun at the playground. A very straightforward palette just feels like playing outdoors.

    So, with my usual caveat to not use these color selections as rules, or dictates, or even to recommend using them as you seem them together here, I hope you enjoy the combinations.

    And as always, I invite your comments.


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  • How to choose the right colors! OR: is there a simple way to choose the right colors?

    That’s the question, and it applies to both interiors and exteriors of homes and other buildings.

    What’s the answer?
    I remember reading and enjoying an article in the New York Times from a while ago by one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors, Lee Child, a master in creating compelling characters and situations with a very particular flavor in the “action” genre. If you’re looking for entertaining, fast-paced reading his work is a lot of fun to read.

    His article, “A Simple Way to Create Suspense” is essentially about his own process in creating suspense in his writing.

    How can that idea possibly translate to selecting the best colors for our homes or workplaces?
    Ask yourself the right questions! Since just about every question you can ask about color will have some kind of answer—and ideally help direct you to a useful solution—try starting with these:

    * Where is the place?
    * Is your subject the interior or the exterior?
    * What do you, or others using the space, want to do there?
    * Do you have specific goals, or is the need a more general one?

    But naturally there are some guidelines that will help direct you to the best combinations of colors for your purposes. Qualities of space and use like wall size, texture, lighting (natural and artificial), and surroundings in general are some of the considerations.

    Begin each project by defining a sense of purpose and goal, which is where the questions and the guidelines come in. a client’s personal preferences play a role as well but typically are just part of the picture.  Color trends, while interesting, often inspiring, and fun to follow, really have little to do with arriving at the most effective and supportive color palettes for a specific building or space.

    Colorful Tree House

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The excitement and “suspense” is in the process and the evolution of results; testing accent colors, for example, will lead you to transform a simple, earthy color into an interesting environment. Using colors that are just a little too bright can make a space uncomfortable and stressful instead of  enjoyable and nourishing.  A one-inch color chip is never a reliable indication of a whole room or even one wall!

    Back to the Suspense, in case you want to read the article also!

    So, a few tips
    * Overestimate the impact: Use your favorite super-bright colors as accents in furnishings, accessories, or smaller wall surfaces
    * Textured wall and ceilings tend to “absorb” more color, while smoother surfaces reflect more color.
    * Lighting will affect your results, whether inside or outside. So be sure to see what colors look like in different times of day and evening.|
    * Use less vivid colors for your larger surfaces
    * Consider using the same color on walls and ceilings to minimize distraction, especially in smaller spaces.
    * Remember that your floors are large surface areas so consider floor color, including carpeting, when you’re thinking of wall colors.
    * Exterior: considering the roofing color (I’ll explore this specific subject later in a separate article)
    * Balancing warm and cool colors, and bright and soft colors, is important to create a comfortable and interesting space.

    One of the most important parts of the process is Testing! Use a roller and be sure to apply two coats over primer to get the most accurate color representation, just as you would do when painting your walls.

    Then, Enjoy the Process!
    Send in your own favorite color combinations to share, with a note about the goal and the use.

     


  • ‘Tis the Season—for Nature-Based Spring Color Palettes!

    We can usually agree that “nature” is the best inspiration for inspired color palettes. But that’s a broad topic! So for purposes of this post about color inspirations, I’ll stick to what is right underfoot, literally.

    It seems that every time I go out for a walk—whether to the beach, a local path, just ‘around town,’ or via a sweeping vista of fields—I love to look around with color palettes in mind. This usually involves being inspired to take some pictures and reflect on relative colors and how they might be used. Or, simply, just open my eyes to the color-view that they land on, and just see the objects and landscapes from an abstract, colorist perspective instead of something more literal.

    Starting with something that has a more far-away focus, the sky and land in a sweeping panorama, these two are not the more pastel kinds of colors we typically think of as “Spring.” Yet, there it is…new growth.

    Translated to simpler colors:

    Large field view

    Clouds and ocean beyond the bands of colorful plants.

     

    Color grasses

    A closer view in a similar color range.

     

    new buds and flowers

    New buds and flowers are a little brighter here.

     

    Beautiful colors and textures.

    What a beautiful, bountiful array of colors and textures in this in-ground bouquet.

     

    Tonal Grasses

    Grasses have their own “tonal excitement.” It’s even better when they move in the breeze. The lightest tips are almost iridescent.

     

    Grasses are colorful.

    A few steps down the path, a different color look entirely. Warm and nurturing, earthy colors offer a sense of security at any time of year. The light ochre and ivory in both these grassy colors can be either main color or accent.

     

    beautiful leaves.

    These delightful little leaves are waiting with open arms for the buds to arrive. The soft blue-green and yellow add a fresh, bright appearance that makes this color group a very liveable one.

     

    Buds to become flowers

    Close up, these little buds almost look like mini-succulents.  The soft pinky-coral of the buds makes the green tones stand out even more. The groups of buds will turn into…

     

    White flowers from buds.

    Creamy color of these almost-white flowers! Note the nearby buds. Deep earthy brown; tonal greens; ivory – together make a lovely palette. Pay attention to your proportions and intensity of colors when you actually apply this color group.

     

    Shocking Pink.

    Amid the lower intensity colors, a shock of beautiful pinks wakes up the morning!

    More color palettes to come!

    A note about color use and modification
     I’m not suggesting that you take these palettes literally or try to apply the colors as entire rooms or even walls. Think of them more as an interesting harmony, that you can use in various proportions and even in deeper, or lighter, or brighter versions of the same colors than are shown here. Take the colors from one group and inject one or two from another one. Granted, that takes a different kind of practice but just give it a shot and see what you can come up with to create the feeling that is portrayed.

    Meanwhile, please feel free to submit your comments and pictures of how you might use or have used these types of colors in your own spaces or client projects. I look forward to hearing from you.


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  • What’s it like to do something really different?

    Over the past year a lot has happened. Moving from Massachusetts, where I lived for a very long time, to California–where I’d lived in the past and “Swore” I’d never live there again! (moral: never say “Never!”)  But here I am, and it is like being on a different planet. And actually a good one! I just got back from sitting in with my fiddle (aka violin), with some local bluegrass players in a weekly “jam”—which is informal, and fortunately for me they are very welcoming and patient.

    But what is also really different? Being willing to take the time to actually DO something really different. Over the past number of months, that has been developing a project that started unintentionally from a spark of inspiration, taking on a life of it’s own as I became more deeply engrossed in its evolution. I’ve always done some kind of artwork, all my life. As long as I can remember, that has been an essential part of life—in many forms over the years—whether painting, sewing, textile painting, furniture and wall painting, print design, rug design, and other media.

    In many ways, working in the field of color consulting—which I’ve been doing since 1986—has been an art expression. But it’s been much more about actually helping others, my clients, tap into, and become more confident in, their own expression with color. I always have loved that part of the work. Now, with an expanded focus on my own art work,  I’m enjoying that experience again but in a very different way.

    Sonoma County view.

    Sonoma County mountains and pasture.

    Most recently, relocating here to Northern California, I started drawing.  It sounds simplistic, but what happened was, for me, remarkable. I found that, with an open and relaxed mind, the images that came out were surprising and actually fascinating. I became spellbound by the process.

    What has developed from that experience is the inspiration to do a book. Actually it’s a coloring book. Now, it’s in the final phases and the whole process is much more involved than I imagined when I started with the notion to do it. In fact, the fascinating thing that has come from working on the book is that, while it is a ‘coloring book’ and as such has a great benefit that is very well known for stress relief, I’ve constructed it in a way that will actually help people develop their own sense of colors and how the colors feel to them that is well beyond simply coloring a picture. I’m looking forward to seeing what evolves with it, and to sharing it with you when it’s ready. I will set up a page on this site for the book, also!

    Sonoma County

    In Sonoma County, a view without boundaries.

    The point about this process, that I’ve started to learn from the current experience, is that just being open to something new—without boundaries—is an exciting experience.  Now, you may be someone for whom this is no surprise and who has always just done anything you’ve wanted to do. But I really believe that many people need to have the little “zing” of inspiration that just does not let go, and the exhilarating experience of the creative surge that comes with a new idea that is actually manifested.  I wish I had an easy recipe for that.

    But it boils down to this: take the time to get out of the usual way of doing things; change up the routine; see things with a new eye, and breathe!

    If you have something to share about embarking on a new experience, doing something really different, please share it in a comment.

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  • Color Geography – the anatomy of a long-distance consult project

    How does geographic location affect color choices?
    Even for long-distance color design projects, considering the lighting and the actual location is a “must.” Imagination is part of it, but also local-area images are important, along with the essential client-provided information.

    This is also where a digital image process can be so helpful. It’s a way to virtually see the building as-if it’s already painted with the new colors, using images the client provides. And it’s those images that offer a way to see what the house or other building looks like in it’s own environment.

    One example, a family’s house in Pennsylvania, a 130-year old Queen Anne Victorian. Being in the Boston area at the time, it was not convenient for me to travel to the client’s location, even though this is always an option for the right circumstances. We started with descriptions, my questionnaire about location, site, and lifestyle, and photos provided by the client.

    Existing colors in Pennsylvania

    “Before” colors: Two views, front and side.

    Mical_BEFORE-sideview - Copy

    The project was a bit complex, since there were a number of structures involved: the house itself, a semi-attached garage and carport, other outbuilding, and a tree house. Many siding a trim styles and materials were also involved. Among them were stone, clapboard, shingles; window and door casings; porch floors, ceilings, and railings; trim details. Also some structural items were part of the picture, like gables and bump-outs.

    Because of the structure, the details and materials, we wanted to create a sense of cohesion in a natural style color palette that was fairly simple throughout. The treehouse was the location to incorporate some bright, more whimsical colors.

    View to carport

    View to carport – Before

    Garage view - before

    Garage view – Before

    Working closely, albeit long-distance, there were many communications and visuals back and forth. Color schemes illustrated with the digital image views were offered and responded to by the clients, and it was very much a collaborative process. We worked our way through a few options, any of which could have worked very well.

    Ultimately, the final palette evolved. Paint plan details and final color images presented and affirmed. The clients reported it was also helpful for their painter, who used the color images as a reference, part of their direction for work.

    New colors in Pennsylvania

    After a few variations…New colors are subtle but make a big difference !

    Side view

    New colors – Side view

    New colors tree house.

    Tree house – back side.

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The clients expressed their experience in this way:
    Engaging your services was priceless and the digital renderings are absolutely worth the investment.  We loved seeing what the house would look like before it was even painted.  Our painter has used the image as his own blueprint for painting the house.  It truly is a must-have, and the end product looks practically just like the digital image.  It certainly put a complete end to the debate over colors that we have had as a couple! (Read more from them, and others, here…) Thanks to the clients for providing photos.

    I’ve enjoyed developing this service and the processes involved. Communication has always been an important element in my life, and this mode is just a development of that aspect. So now that I’m based in California, it’s something I can continue to enjoy offering and doing.


  • Tips for Testing – it’s your most important tool before painting

    Have you ever thought about the tools you need for painting?
    Think of testing your paint selections as the most important ‘tool’ in your bag.

    Tips for Testing

    Q: Are you about to make decisions about paint color?

    Q: Painters and designers: Are you about to recommend paint colors for a client?

    Q: How can you make high quality color test samples to help your clients make color decisions?

    You’re a painting professional who has just been asked for the Thousandth time…”how will it look?” Of course you may have even seen the specified color in many other settings over the years—or, perhaps you’ve never seen it yourself in “real life.” Do you have time to test a lot of color swatches for your clients?

    Whether you are doing this yourself or perhaps even suggesting that the homeowner (or other client) do it and let you know what they want to use (and some people will actually want to do this), I’d like to share a few tips that you can recommend, or even use yourself if they are new to you. It’s not “rocket science,” we all know that.

    So, to keep it simple, I recommend starting with the premise that color looks different in all types of lighting and of course throughout the day—and evening—on different surfaces. Color changes in corners, also, as it intensifies where two walls of the same color meet, and it changes in other ways depending on the actual lighting and also when two walls or surfaces (ie: wall and ceiling) of differing colors meet. It’s the angle that does it – whether the typical 90 degrees or something else, as in a vaulted ceiling, and the reflection of light causes the colors to affect each other.

    Therefore, the following apply:
    1. Make the paint test on a moveable and repositionable surface. Something that can be affixed temporarily to any wall, ceiling, or even floor (when you are painting a floor).

    Note: do not use your blue tape on the edges of this! Tape the back side only.

    2. Make the colored surfaces in proportion to each other, for example: Trim colors will usually be narrower than the wall color surfaces.

    3. Be sure the surface you paint the test on is primed, or at least under-painted with a color similar to what you’re testing. For example, you can of course use poster board but since it’s paper, it must be oil-primed so it does not warp. Personally I like the flat-finish, fast drying low odor products for this.

    Note: I’ve typically prepared up to 20 or so poster boards with this type of oil primer, to have ready to go in advance–and easy to use at a moment’s notice–when preparing color tests for clients.

    4. Roll on 2 coats of your finish (test) color, making the application as close to what you intend to do on the final surface. Use a roller with similar pile to what you plan to use on the job.

    5. Use a stable surface with a texture similar to the wall or surface to be painted. IF the target surface is textured, it’s worth it to make a replica since color reacts so differently with the light falling on textured or smooth surfaces.

    6. Be sure to do the test with the same finish you’ll be using on the actual surface (Flat? Eggshell? Semi-or-high-gloss?)

    7. Label your sample cards and cut a nice, smooth-edged one about 8”x8” to leave with the client for their own ‘shopping’ purposes. I find that people appreciate this especially when they are looking at window treatments and furnishings.

    8. OK, so what about materials? I mentioned using wood, (smooth and primed, of course), poster board and foam core (oil prime first), and you can use other substrates like gator board, or drywall (also prime).

    9. But there is also a really easy solution, one that I personally really like to use and always recommend to my clients who want to do the testing themselves: Small Wall. It’s a great surface, prepared for paint (aka No Priming Needed), a 1’x1’ size (2 in a pack), has a re-positionable adhesive strip on on the back, and can be reused, re-painted. You can even cut it with a solid paper cutter, to make smaller pieces, and hole-punch if that’s how you keep color records. I think they also sell contractor packs of 50, which makes it a very easy process. (check out www.mysmallwall for info)

    Interior or exterior, the same process applies. For exterior work you might want to have some siding pieces available that are at least very similar to the client’s house if not the exact same thing. Doing more than just one strip (minimum 4 to 6 strips high, of clapboard style) will give a more accurate view of what the shadows will do at various times of day. Remember to make trim samples also, in the same widths as the actual trim and casings or other details.

    So, you might ask, why go to all this trouble, anyway? The main reason is: Minimize confusion, make the color choices easy, and be professional. Stripes and color patches on the walls look messy and are visually confusing. You can’t see the specified colors next to each other on a large enough surface because there is just too much going on and the existing colors will inform the appearance of the tested colors.

    To illustrate
    1.How to block other colors – hang a white sheet, use white paper, or paint white primer background.
    Paint test article 1 step in the right direction

    This is a start but there are still too many colors in one area and you can’t move them around the room at all.

    Note: using a roller is best, to get the most solid coverage (Yes, 2 coats) and no streaks. The point is to replicate the actual color appearance of the final surface.

    2. Patches are confusing – use one color at a time. This is a useless waste of time, money and emotion. Let’s hope it’s just done for the sake of this picture and not to actually suggest testing colors like this!
    Paint test article 2-chaos

    3. Place your reviewed color in corners, next to walls, next to ceiling if possible, next to floor or baseboards, next to doorway to see adjacent rooms with the proposed new color you’re reviewing. In this example they are using a large test area and have applied the color in adjacent walls meeting in a corner, but then it’s complicated by using the swatches of other colors, even if they are variations on a theme.
    Paint test article 3-browns

    4. This is another ineffective test, using colors that are too close together, not painted solidly so they look streaky, and not masked from the background. It’s hard to tell what the new colors actually are!
    Paint test article 4

    4-a: Mask the wall with white, make a large, rolled paint sample. Doing this on a separate card or large poster board will give you an idea of the actual color. Can you tell which one this is, from picture 4?
    Paint test article 4a-WhiteMask with RIGHT side test-more bluegray

    4-b: Same process as 4-a. Which of the two “tested” colors is this one?
    Paint test article 4-4b_white mask with LEFT side test - more green

    There is one more thing you can offer, that some painters have even used as their palette application guidelines. That is to order a digital rendition of what the house will look like (exterior) with the various colors on the different parts of the house. That’s a great way to show a couple of color options in an overall visual. But that’s another story! 


     


  • Tips and Views on the meaning of cost–and the cost of color.

    From remodeling your home to mowing your lawn…What is often at the top of a list of hesitations?
    “Price” or “Cost” often includes much more than an exchange of money.

    Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, that it can be the cost of professional services.

    What does this have to do with remodeling, color, and design?
    As with most discussions there are various ways to look at the subject. Ultimately, the question would be “processed-focused” or “outcome-focused.

    Looking at “Cost vs. Pleasure”
    Cost
    Cost is outlay of cash
    Cost is the level of perceived value
    Cost is “Doing it yourself”

    • Time to do the project
    • The “learning curve,”  if it’s something you have not done before
    • Quality of the outcome, value over time

    More cost also often happens if you do not engage a qualified professional.

    take a bath

    You can even take a bath in your DIY bath house!

    Pleasure
    Pleasure of spending money? If you have the resources this can be unimportant or even pleasurable. But pleasure thrives in the value of creating or producing something yourself, the Satisfaction of “Doing it yourself”

    • Enjoying making Time to do the project
    • Enjoying your Achievements in mastering new challenges
    • Appreciating the outcome has value over time
    • In some cases your results don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be valuable

    Pleasure in having engaged a trusted, qualified professional, is a form of “passive participation.”

    An “outcome-focused” view depends on your goals
    What is your biggest obstacle, for either or both of these positions?

    a) as a provider of professional services
    b) if you are considering hiring professional help

    It’s an important subject from either side and I hope you will share your thoughts and experiences.

    For me, one pleasure that’s worth the cost: getting the windows of my house cleaned…Professionally!


  • “Creative” and “Personal” – a Few Short Tips about Paint Finishes

    Think “Creative and Personal” with these short tips about paint finishes.
    Without a lot of discussion, I wanted to present a few concise tips to consider when you’re selecting interior paint colors for your home. Typically, we have three choices for paint finishes (some companies have one or two in between them): Flat, Eggshell, SemiGloss, and High Gloss.

    Deep Color Effects

    Traditional Family Room by Cambridge Architects & Building Designers LDa Architecture & Interiors
    H
    ere’s a good place to use a flat finish for velvet elegance but just be wary of burnishing. Best used in a space that does not have a lot of activity connected to walls!

    A special note about using those fabulous deep, rich colors that you want to appear “velvet-y” is that there is the Plus and the Minus:
    Plus: Flat finish (in any color) masks many types of surface defects, better than any other sheen.
    Minus: The thing to remember when using deeper colors in a flat finish, in any brand of paint, is that the very, very deep colors can ‘burnish’ when you brush against the surface. This means that if your elbow, for example, happens to rub against the painted surface it might make a mark that looks shiny in some lights. On the other hand, a flat finish requires less perfect walls since, being non-reflective, the imperfections are to a degree masked.

    Traditional Living Room by San Francisco General Contractors Cardea Building Co.
    An interesting treatment in which the beams are wall surface—as they should be!

    A few ideas about trim colors

    • Don’t feel obligated to paint all the trim in a room the same color.
    • Think about the purpose of the trim: to accent a particular architectural element, frame a space, or create unity.
    • Painting the trim the same color as your walls, but in a different finish, is a subtle way to add the illusion of a different color (SemiGloss or High Gloss is brighter than the same color in flat, for example)
    • Painting crown moldings the same color as your ceiling, in a different finish, frames the ceiling and defines the space in a subtle way.
    • Painting the crown moldings the same color as your walls adds height.
    • Window trim in the same color as walls opens the space by bringing your focus to the outside.
    • Using a very dark, contrasting trim color in a higher sheen can be a meaningful design accent.


    Contemporary Dining Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Cheryl Burke Interior Design
    T
    his trim is not super dark but it does stand out beautifully.

    A Non-Color Tip
    Be sure to use the right type of roller for the job. Deep texture surface of course needs a thicker roller; new, smooth surfaces can use a very short-nap roller. But in addition to fiber depth there are a number of different fiber combinations that are best for using with different materials.

    This should apply to any paint brand, from the most prosaic to full spectrum paints like EcoHues.


  • What’s Neutral, anyway? Try these tips.

    What is “Neutral,” anyway?
    A multi-use color that is complementary in many settings. Many colors can be made serve this purpose. They don’t have to be taupe, beige, or gray. Depending on the look you want, even vivid or highly contrasting colors will make a harmonious statement.

    The key is balance. Warm, cool, light, dark, saturated, pale…you have an entire spectrum to choose from.

    What to look for in a ‘mutable neutral?’  That will be a color that functions as a neutral but actually looks very color-rich.  One way to discern the colors that will be most flexible in your surroundings is to look for colors that will create the most comfortable background. Colors that are more “complex,” having multiple tints in their paint mix formula, typically fit this requirement.Using Full Spectrum Paints is one sure way to gain this effect.

    Full Spectrum Neutrals

    A few neutrals that are full spectrum colors: no black or gray in the mix!

    Have you heard the terms “Clear” colors; or, “Dirty” palette, and wondered what that means?
    Simply put, “dirty” is not a negative word! In the world of color it refers to a more grayed, complex combination of hues that look ‘toned down.’
    “Clear” colors are usually more crisp, bright, even sometimes brilliant.

    paint fandeck
    Colors that work as “neutral” can be of either type; their function is typically to provide a unifying background, to “neutralize” potential discord created by excessive contrast or pattern. In creating comfortable living spaces, the goal is to have a dynamic balance between neutral and accent. This is possible even in a more “tonal” environment where colors are within a particular color family or range of brightness, as in ‘tones or shades’ of a certain

    type of color. Usually this means something in an earthy palette but technically “tonal” can mean any relatively monochromatic palette.

    EcoHues Fieldstone-and-Pewter

    Neutrals in various hues.

    Introducing textures can provide the dynamic interest and prevent monotony where a more ‘tonal’ palette is preferred.

    With the current trend for using one color–even a white or gray–through the home, you can still keep it interesting with finishes; for example, flat on the wall and ceiling and the same color in a semigloss or even gloss finish on the trim.

    So, think big in the sense of looking at your space from a wide view. It’s not just about deciding what color to paint a wall to be “neutral.” Look at the elements of harmony for a dynamically neutral result.

     


  • About color or not, open your mind to open your eyes

    Are you perhaps one of the many individuals who is “stuck?” That could mean stuck in a pattern of thinking, behavior, reacting and responding…the list is endless.

    I was thinking about this recently and it even applies to color selections. With so many colors to choose from, whether for interior colors, exterior colors, or just new materials, it’s too easy to just revert to what’s comfortable, what we’re used to, and what we know “looks good.”

    On the other hand, there is a lot of stimulation available through examples, options, and advice both valid and incorrect, that can either help focus and crystallize a decision, or can just create more confusion.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    How I personally approach breaking out of a pattern—whether in daily life in general or in my color consulting life, in particular—is pretty simple. A couple things to share at this time:

    1. Get out of the house/office/studio and just take a quick walk. Not a new tip at all…but I like to pick a subject to focus on or observe each time. Something mundane, like Trees, Sidewalk cracks, Smells…you get the idea.
    2. Read a different type of book by a new author, it changes the perspective.
    3. Play a musical instrument from time to time: either an old friend-familiar one, using a different musical style, or something completely different. For example: this summer I went to Fiddle Camp with my son and grandson. That was a new experience – as a classically trained violinist it was a big switch and a great experience! A way to see and hear things anew.

    “Breaking out of the box of off-white” is really just a metaphor for doing something different. Start large, start small, it does not matter. Just Start.

    Enjoy the process; please share your own methods, and let us know how you evolve!

    RE Cert-Vertical-OUTSIDE-DESIGNCONSULT

  • What more is there to say about color?

    So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post here. “Been So Busy…” is what people often say. I guess it’s true that I have ‘been busy.’ But here’s the thing. So much to think about color, so much to say, so little time, and so forth.

    I just decided to Ask! What would you like to hear about?
    It could be one of these topics but feel free to add your own requests!

    • Interior color ideas?
    • Exterior color ideas?
    • Paint or other materials?
    • Color Theory?
    • Client questions?
    • Full Spectrum Paint color questions?
    • Coordinating paint and furnishings?
    • What is supportive color?
    • Applied color psychology?
      …and more?

    My own list of potential posts is much longer than that of course, but sometimes it’s also good to ask for suggestions.

    Let me know, and let’s share some color stories and tips.

    New England Peaches

    Yes, it’s a bowl of peaches!

    Just the image to inspire a dramatic “Fall” palette for interior and exterior house colors.
    Take your pick, and make the most of how you use them.
    Warning: A little bit goes a long way!

    Meanwhile, enjoy the end of Summer. I know I will.


  • What’s here to stay, and here to change? Color Trends. Period.

    Color trends? Here, to stay… and here, to change.
    It’s that time again, Color Trends are all over the place! Most recently, Pantone reports “Emerald Green” as the latest thing. Green is what I call an “available” color, since because it’s right in the middle of the light-wave spectrum it’s a color most comfortably viewed in many instances. It’s mutable and earthy; inspiring of new life, growth, and positive direction. As a paint color, “green” can be flexible in interiors and can be used in many settings.

    Pantone ENERGIZE greens

    The Pantone “Energize” green palette

    Small World, Indeed
    While I don’t have an “emerald green” in the palette, I’ve been delighted to see that many of my own EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint colors  seem to have aligned with some trend colors over the past year. These are from Pantone:

    What’s my own personal opinion?
    While I don’t really have one personal favorite color, I do have a definite point of view. As an architectural color consultant, paint palette designer and rug designer, my viewpoint is threefold.

    First
    My own primary, professional focus as a color consultant is a strong belief in supportive color design. Foremost is function, coupled with aesthetics and, in the homes of individual clients, personal color preferences naturally have a role as well.

    Where function is concerned, color trends are interesting—and of course they are an indicator of products we’ll be seeing going forward. However using a ‘trendy’ color as a selection simply because it’s “hot” or popular does not serve either my client or myself as the consultant. I always take note of trends but no decision or recommendation I’d ever make is trend-driven.

    Second
    As a paint palette designer, I’ve created the EcoHues line of Full Spectrum Paints as a 32-color curated palette that serves a variety of purposes. Because each of our colors has no black or gray—even in our muted ‘neutrals’ or most highly saturated colors—they are easy to decorate with. So, many “trend” colors can create interesting harmonies with these richly-colored full spectrum paints as part of a design plan.

    In creating the palette style and the actual colors, I’ve been influenced by client requests in both commercial and residential settings.  That request is usually in the form of an expressed feeling. The client desires a particular kind of experience.  A typical kind of request is, for example, “I want a relaxing space, a happy, energizing space, and also something that will complement my furnishings.” So, with that as the impetus, the EcoHues palette includes pale to deep stony neutrals; underwater blues; luminous, ethereal sun-filled yellows; antique-flavored greens; bright blues, and richly warm reds and browns evoking exotic sources.

    How do these fit into upcoming trends?
    While I agree with others that we’re influenced by the economy and world events, what I see as important in general is something that’s been happening for a while now:  a resurgence in health and well-being beyond today’s blood pressure. Certainly, the deeper aspect of the experiences that we all desire in our color environments is well beyond the transitory nature of “what’s hot” right now or even for the near future.

    A quick color trend note
    In the world of color and design—in what appeals to us at the deepest level and that will endure well past this year’s colors—is a reference to organic plant and earth sources, natural materials, and textures. As the world becomes culturally smaller and smaller, international flavors will continue in an ongoing appreciation of solid, earthy tones and textures; warm, natural pigment-inspired colors like rusty oranges, paprika and cinnabar reds; brighter, rich hues like Hydrangea and Phoenix Blue, and the deep tones of Mulberry, Nomad and plum.

    More EcoHues colors are represented here, too

    Cultural blending has, in fact, been well underway for some time and will continue to evolve into new and exciting preferences in color combinations and styles. And, in any space or product, surface sheen and texture are important and often dictate a color’s appearance and therefore contribute to our color preferences and uses.

    Third: Home decor follows fashion
    As a rug designer, I incorporate color from an instinctive perspective, starting with what feels right to me from the artistic standpoint. That said, I can of course change colors in any way to suit individuals’ requests. It surprises me sometimes that many of the colors I initially use in my rug designs do show up in a future trend forecast. That is always interesting, and just demonstrates once again that color is universal—and cyclical.

    Pantone "Heritage" palette

    Pantone’s new greens in the Heritage palette can be flexible.

    My basic belief doesn’t just “belong” to me.
    It’s much broader than any individual, and does not depend on color trends at all.
    As humans—without regard to “trends”—we all crave color in myriad varieties of light and bright, muted yet clean, and deep, rich, and dark. It’s all about proportion, balance, and use. I see color trends as something interesting and cyclical, worth observing, with variations in each re-occurrence of a particular color.

    Are you Into Color Trends for your own home, or your business, or just for fun? Visit these places for more inspiration:

    Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paints
    Kate Smith, of Sensational Color
    Color Marketing Group: Where Trends are Defined
    Pantone: a great resource for color information and products

    Change is dynamic. That’s the fascination that keeps us coming back for more! What’s Your “take” on the trends?


  • A Maslow-Inspired Thanksgiving Color Palette

    What are the colors of Thanksgiving?
    So much more than paint, decorating, or  “trend palettes.”
    I wanted to offer some color-reflections for the holiday season, and beyond.

    Maslow's Hierarchy - reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    What’s important?
    Please share your own inspirations and color-reflections!


  • Asking the right questions

    How to listen: Take a tip from Joseph Albers
    Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”

    Among the many “what’s the first step” items in the process of a new client-relationship, asking the right questions is at the top of my list.

    Of course this also goes for any project, even with people we think we know, since each project carries its own set of circumstances. That’s why I love the above statement by Josef Albers.

    Warming up with Red Clay from EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint

    While creatively problem-solving, opportunities to learn—and to teach—abound in every project

    • Help clients discover their own personal design styles
    • Introduce new concepts and ideas
    • Interact with clients in an authentic way
    EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint - Atlantis and Blue Grotto

    “Atlantis,” an EcoHues Full Spectrum color, is on the back wall of dining area and continues into the foyer that is visible from the dining room.

     

    Soft full spectrum colors, kitchen view into family room

    Rich soft colors enhance—and subtly define—three connected spaces, with 3 different close colors.

    One example, from a client’s note to me
    “…you helped take the confusion out of color selection process and opened up our eyes to color choices we never would have thought of using.  We appreciated how easy it was to work with you, and how carefully you listened to our wants and needs.”

    It just takes practice!
    As artists and designers, it’s so easy to become excited about a project and about our own approach and inspirations. The practice is in listening, and advising while not imposing our personal preferences. It’s really all about the goal for every client.

    I’d love to listen. What is your story?


  • Seeing it Anew, for a New Full Spectrum Experience

    Have you ever heard someone say “I can’t believe I never noticed that before?”
    Have you ever said it yourself?

    How many times do we have to see something before we really notice it?
    “IT” could be just about anything, actually, and once you start to think about “IT,” the  list just grows.
    For example:

    • Special People: recognizing, appreciating, not taking them for granted
    • Disorder: Walk into a room you have not been in for a while and see it with new eyes open
    • Color: combinations of color and new ways of seeing what’s familiar
    • Ideas: open your mind, open your heart!
    • And then of course what can follow is “open heart, open mind!”

    What are your recent Openers that you want to share here? Just leave your comment to this post.

    Often we’re simply ‘stuck’ in the place we are. Emotionally, physically, and environmentally—from the perspective of trying to make even a small change. Color and even simple design changes can help to create a full-spectrum life.

    Sometimes an outside view is just what’s needed to reflect and have a new experience.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    If  you want help seeing—and experiencing—your own environment with a new view, just let me know.
    Helping people get ‘un-stuck,’ and evolve through their color and design dilemmas, is my specialty.

    Check out colorful Gift Certificates fo provide a full-spectrum experience for yourself, your family, and friends.


  • Bio-What? Add Nature to your Life and Feel Better Now

    Biophilia.*

    It’s not quite a “household word” yet, but is definitely becoming a regularly accepted fact: including as many references to “nature” as possible—in any kind of space—leads to more healthy living and working environments. How this plays out in a very real, practical way is documented in some very interesting articles.  You might say, it’s  even a matter of common sense—and dollars.

    We humans need to be connected to nature.
    We hear this so much that it borders on sounding trite. But it’s an innate aspect of our biological makeup—we’re “hard-wired” with this need, and it’s a good one. The very real, physical concept of Biophilia brings it into a larger scale of relevance; architectural projects ranging from a variety of workplaces, manufacturing, offices, and especially health care, can reap the largest-scale benefits—from improving their financial conditions to creating more socially healthy civic communities, in general.

    According to a fascinating short article I recently read, * ‘Biophilic Design Could Save Millions of Dollars,’ including more vegetation in cities would visibly reduce crime rates “7 percent,” and subsequently save tremendous amounts of money “in incarceration costs from violent and property crimes.”

    At this point you might be saying…Ok, that’s interesting but “What About Me? What can I do in my own home go introduce a more nature-relevant quality?”

    beach view

    How would you use this image as inspiration for creating your own nature-based color palette?


    Even on a smaller, personal scale

    there’s a huge benefit to creating associations to nature. Whether you have a small rented apartment, or a condo or home of any size that you own, you can really make a difference in the lives of yourself and family members.

    So, on to a few quick comments about using color in your home or workplace, to help introduce some more natural qualities in addition to the houseplants you might already have, and your garden (which are a great start, by the way). We’re back to often-discussed topics included in what I often talk about: Supportive Color Design.

    • Lighting: incorporate as much natural lighting as possible. Be sure to test your paint colors in all available lighting condition in your setting.
    • Color: Specifically the benefits of using Full Spectrum Paint: Eliminate black and gray from your walls. Full spectrum paints using a minimum of 7 tints in each color will get you the closest to the colors of sunlight–at least as close as you can get considering it’s paint.
    • Shapes: Beyond the typical room shapes, look at shapes in nature and see how you can bring those elements into your own home.
    • Space design: Creating a comfortable and supportive interior environment: arrange your furniture and other decorative items in an orderly and balanced way for maximum comfort, taking into consideration their sizes, shapes, and placement in the space.

    From the original article titled “The Economics of Biophilia” prepared by the environmental consulting and strategic planning firm, Terrapin Bright Green,  is this statement by E.O. Wilson, the person who defined Biophilia:

    Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything  else humanity is ever likely to encounter.” – E.O. Wilson, 1984

    Image courtesy of FIGUURA, from the Terrapin Bright Green article.

    How do contemporary designers incorporate Biophilia in their own work? In ways not specifically “interior design” but even in specific products used in interiors. Wall coverings, office cubicle textiles, and the drapes in hospital patients’ rooms are just a few. Textile designer Laura Deubler Mercurio, whose work is shown in the image below, is a long-time colleague of mine through the IACC (International Association of Color Consultants). She is completely involved in Biophilic and fractal design, creating exciting, beautiful and thoughtful designs for woven textiles, that are used in the three types of locations I just mentioned.

    fabric design by Laura Deuble-Mercurio

    Fractal studies have inspired Laura Deubler-Mercurio to design fabrics for hospital use.
    Her textile designs are based on our senses relating to fractal divisions in nature.

    Personally, I’d heard about Biophilia many years ago, and since then that awareness has had a significant connection to my own approach to Supportive Color Design, that applies to interior or exterior color design. Thanks to Eco-Structure.com, a publication of the AIA, for bringing this in-depth article to my attention.

    What you’re reading in this post is intended to encourage you to read the entire, original article that you can download from the Terrapin Bright Green web site.


  • ICFF 2012: Something multicolored, something blue, and many things new.

    It’s not borrowed. It’s multicolored, and it’s sometimes blue.

    Not talking about “June weddings.” In this case, it’s the ICFF show (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). A great place to see international contemporary culture expressed in design. Sometimes reflective of something old, and in many cases something new, and always interesting.

    In any case, I always find this show enjoyable on many levels. Seeing many of the latest new products, color trends and design trends from international designers, and talking with some of them in person, is an experience I find fun and inspiring.

    LIghting at ICFF

    Hand blown glass fixtures - glowing frosty finish

    So, to share just a few of the items that piqued my interest for a number of reasons…
    I enjoyed a brief conversation with Jamie Harris, the artist who created these beautiful hand blown glass light fixtures

    ICFF light

    Hand blown glass fixtures - metallic shimmer

    ICFF lighting

    Sheer color in gorgeous hand blown lighting

     

    Still on the subject of light, check out these amazing solid acrylic tubes. Colors infuse the entire material throughout, and the colors change as you move around the piece according to viewing angles. Even the edges are luminously multicolored

    LED acrlic solid tube

    Walk around and see how the color changes. View 1 of 4

    .ICFF lights

    View 2
    ICFF lighting
    View 3
    ICFF lighting

    View 4

    Imagine the setting for these beautifully sculptural light fixtures.

    Moving along to see some furniture, something I always enjoy.

    glowing furniture

    Fantasy cabinets - one of a few from Boca Do Lobo

    drawers
    It’s not just a stack of sample finishes…Each drawer is an individual, functional drawer.
    unique furniture

    The upper section, and the surface shown below, is beaded by indigenous Huichol people in Mexico. From Espacio Sami Hayek. How do you like the wood?

    Note: the picture on their web site is Not of their ICFF booth…at least not the one I saw there.

    furniture

    Closeup of the artistic detail on this credenza by the same company, Espacio Sami Hayek.

    display booth

    Closeup of a metal wall of a display "booth"

    japanese tetilres

    Something Blue! So very beautiful, and "Wabi-Sabi." Amazing textiles from Kyoto Rakushian

    closeup japanese textiles

    I could not resist sharing a closer view.

    And last, but not least, for now…

    funky furnituire

    Just so we don't get too serious..simple, funky, and having a sense of humor.

    So much to see and enjoy in one day, these are just a few of my favorites.

    Do you have a favorite? If so, which piece–and where would you use it?


  • Color Q & A: Use Deep Color and be Happy

    A question I received recently about using deep color prompted me to share this topic with you. First of all, I’d like to state that Yes, you can be “Happy” using deep colors.

    Q: We recently moved…
    into a new contemporary high-rise home , and ditched all the British colonial/country French stuff. We’re still living with builder’s paint and are getting eager to make a change. We’d like to try something new (maybe charcoal!) but afraid it will end up a somber cave instead of elegant and crisp.

    A: The question of using deep colors…
    always comes with the concern “Won’t it make the space feel small?”  Since there is not one simple answer to this, I wanted to briefly touch on a few ideas about the subject. You might call it “advice on psychology of painting darker colors”—but that has such a formidable sound, I’d rather call it “some tips about using deep colors.”

    Psychological color associations are so interesting. “Darker colors” often are described as serious, depressing, sad, formidable (see above comment), and other similar mood-and-feeling descriptions. The flip side of the description might be “sophisticated, intimate, cozy, meditative, exotic, solid…” and so forth. In other words, there are many ways to look at how we describe and feel about color!

    But psychological associations aside, we have the physical attributes of the space (lighting, room size, wall shapes, ceiling height, floor color and material) and the question of function (what you want to do there)   are all part of the picture and process of choosing the best colors for your needs.

    A few ideas on making a space elegant and crisp using deep colors

    • Deep on the walls and ceiling, bright contrast on the trim.
    • Select brightly colored accessories
    • Use texture and light
    • Use the deep colors of walls as a dramatic background for artwork or collections
    • Use a deep color on an accent wall to extend the view in the room and expand the space.

    EcoHues-FieldPewter
    Deep, earthy EcoHues Full Spectrum – Fieldstone in a very small bedroom, opens to EcoHues Full Spectrum – Pewter on walls and ceiling in the adjacent powder room. Cabinets and lower walls are EcoHues Full Spectrum – Char-Plum Gray.

    deep color bright accent
    Closeup of cabinet in above picture: EcoHues Full Spectrum – CharPlum Gray. Brightly colored glass knobs make the deep color stand out and look even richer.

    Deep Chocolate accent wall in Kitchen Gallery
    Deep color on the walls of this kitchen “gallery” is Chocolate, from Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum paints.

     

    EcoHues-Atlantis
    Deep color again, this one is EcoHues Full Spectrum – Atlantis. Note the wall color is also used on the ceiling in the alcove portion of this space.(below)
    alcove in entry

    Below: Deep on the trim, with contrast color on walls and ceiling (in this case, the ceiling is a soft tinted white)

    . dark trim lighter walls

    Walls are Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum – Mustard Seed. Trim is Benjamin Moore HC-67.

    Do have an experience using deeper colors that you would like to share?

    My goal is to help create the best possible spaces with colors that help you enjoy your life and accomplish what you dream of doing. Let me help you “Get outside the box of off-white with colors for your vibrant life.


  • Linen-weave texture: made a mistake but now corrected

    Silly mistakes will happen. Most recently here: posting something by mistake, then deleting it to try to correct the error, then deciding to re-post.

    This recent post was brought to my attention today by a friendly reader who wrote me an email that the page was no longer available.

    What’s good about that? Now I can make it better.

    What happened?
    I’d posted an image of a decorative finish, a project in which I’d painted a linen-weave strie design in two colors, two layers. The problem was that I’d not included any info on the picture!

    This can be a lovely way to create a hand-painted wall covering, using colors to create depth and interest.

    How you do it
    First layer, apply glaze evenly, blend, then drag vertically with a wallpaper brush. When it’s dry, do the second layer: the same process, different color, drag horizontally.

    Tip
    Tape off vertical sections and work in alternating areas. You will actually save some time because you can use a faster-drying glaze. By the time you work your way around the room you may be able to go back and do the 2nd layer. Granted, this may not work for all sizes and shapes of rooms but it is one way to do this process.

    What’s your experience?
    Have you made tech-errors that were embarrassing? On the other subject, have you tried DIY-decorative finishes that did not work out?


  • Before you shop for a rug, consider this very important issue.

    An area rug can be many things in your decor, and making the decision about which rug to choose from the literally thousands available (and as you know, that’s an understatement) can, in that way, be an experience that resembles selecting paint.

    In choosing an area rug, your main considerations might be your use for the rug, and your budget. Other issues besides cost, color, and design, will include longevity. For some details in a brief “rug primer,” this article in the recent Fabulous Floors Blog will give you some tips to take note of, even before you start to shop for a rug.

    A big part of what’s important in rug selection, however, is the issue of who actually made the rug.  Adults? Slave-labor children? Goodweave.org is making great strides in eliminating child labor in the rug industry; rescuing children from the labor market and providing education and a chance at a higher quality of life. This video is one of three from GoodWeave that addresses that subject.  If it’s something you have never thought about, you may be surprised—so please take a look. Each GoodWeave member pays a portion of your purchase price of a GoodWeave certified rug toward this goal.

    At least, paint does not carry those considerations.  While some of the main issues with paint are comparable: What you need and where you will use it; budget; VOCs and personal health concerns; durability; ease of touch-up; and of course your color choices, that include colors that have black in them, or true Full Spectrum colors with no black and a minimum of seven tints in each!

    But, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed—about either rugs, or paint.

    For a rug, be sure to go to a dealer that carries rugs from GoodWeave suppliers. Each GoodWeave certified rug will have a numbered label. For your dilemmas about paint selections, I am here to help.


How to choose the right colors! OR: is there a simple way to choose the right colors?

Integral ColorViews Blog

Color—as a subject for discussion and also as an experience— is fun, exhilarating, fanciful, practical, and always interesting. Color use also has serious aspects. As a colorist, I look forward to sharing a wide range of tips, books, and color-and-design related subjects with you. You're invited to share your own color inspirations!

  • More Palettes – the Many Moods of Summer

    Here it is, only the end of July and yet it almost feels like “Summer” is over. Why is that? Time passes so quickly? Maybe it’s because we’re already seeing Fall fashions.

    But wait, there’s more!’ (ok where have we heard that before?) It is still happening and in a typically glorious way, too.  So, not really after the fact—but rather in reflecting on recent memory both mental and visual—I wanted to present a few color palette ideas based on natural surroundings and a few other things, too. After all, the “Many Moods of Summer” includes a lot! It’s not all sailing, sunny, and roses…we have some moody and darkly mysterious moments also. That’s what adds the dimensional quality, it seems to me. So whether it’s for paint colors interior or exterior,  your home or your workplace, fashion, or just another view of the world, new color  palettes can offer new inspiration.

    Obviously, like many of you I enjoy being inspired by color combinations that occur in nature. After all, that’s where it begins. There is of course the related risk of being redundant, or looking like a ‘copier.’ Yet, that’s not really been a problem for me. I just am inspired by and where inspiration strikes and, while I find it interesting to see what else is ‘out there,’ I’m  not really directed by the colors that others present.

     

    Fresh warmth of yellow roses

    Wake up to the sunny, fresh energy of yellows.

    The perfect range of yellows in golden roses, golden glow.

     

    Striated roses.

    Is this just a local type of rose? I have no idea! But they’re beautiful.

    I’ve never seen these before they popped up in our front yard! They elicit a smile every day.What a pleasure.

    Another viewpoint of rose-inspired colors.

    Another aspect of colors related to the same flowers.

    Same flowers, different interpretation.

     

    Multihued roses

    Translucent, multicolored petals spike the imagination.

    Looking past the most obvious view, the juicy-looking underside of another multicolored rose feels like sunset hues.

    A different view of the same rose

    Yet, such a different view from the top

    View from above, the same brilliant flower!

     

    Look past the subject, include the cool accents.

    Cool accents included

    Balance is key. As with many things, looking past the obvious adds dimension. In this case, it’s adding a little coolness from the surroundings.

    Speaking of dimension and balance, a trip one day to Point Reyes offered this surprise, moody inspiration.

    Peaceful color in Point Reyes

    A softly misty morning has a peaceful quality.

    And night skies provide a different kind of dramatic palette.

    Night time view on the road.

    Dramatic night skies

     

    Beautiful Bark.

    What is this? Bark on a tree. That is…Under the bark, the tree.

    A more “neutral” style of palette is inspired here by the swirling growth patterns of the tree and it’s amazing colors and shapes.

     

    Historic design.

    Antique stencilled wood.

    Pieces of antique wood taken from a historic building. Beautiful stencilled patterns and a lovely color combination that could create a mood that’s festive or calm. In person, of course, it’s even more impressive.

    Back to a favorite place for long walks, this is a peaceful location. The view is from a bridge.

    View from a bridge

    View of this waterway taken from a bridge.

    Similar, but each visit is a unique experience with something different to focus on. How can you not be inspired?

    A different experience

    Every visit to this area provides a different experience.

    Another tree, another world, a completely different look. But that’s no surprise, just inspiring.

    Tree bark

    More Bark!

    Back to the playground!

    Playground structure

    Fun in the Sun at the playground. A very straightforward palette just feels like playing outdoors.

    So, with my usual caveat to not use these color selections as rules, or dictates, or even to recommend using them as you seem them together here, I hope you enjoy the combinations.

    And as always, I invite your comments.


    Instagram page – bjacobscolor

    Open your windows—and your eyes—when you Check out Barbara’s new book at the What’s New section.

    Download free article


  • How to choose the right colors! OR: is there a simple way to choose the right colors?

    That’s the question, and it applies to both interiors and exteriors of homes and other buildings.

    What’s the answer?
    I remember reading and enjoying an article in the New York Times from a while ago by one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors, Lee Child, a master in creating compelling characters and situations with a very particular flavor in the “action” genre. If you’re looking for entertaining, fast-paced reading his work is a lot of fun to read.

    His article, “A Simple Way to Create Suspense” is essentially about his own process in creating suspense in his writing.

    How can that idea possibly translate to selecting the best colors for our homes or workplaces?
    Ask yourself the right questions! Since just about every question you can ask about color will have some kind of answer—and ideally help direct you to a useful solution—try starting with these:

    * Where is the place?
    * Is your subject the interior or the exterior?
    * What do you, or others using the space, want to do there?
    * Do you have specific goals, or is the need a more general one?

    But naturally there are some guidelines that will help direct you to the best combinations of colors for your purposes. Qualities of space and use like wall size, texture, lighting (natural and artificial), and surroundings in general are some of the considerations.

    Begin each project by defining a sense of purpose and goal, which is where the questions and the guidelines come in. a client’s personal preferences play a role as well but typically are just part of the picture.  Color trends, while interesting, often inspiring, and fun to follow, really have little to do with arriving at the most effective and supportive color palettes for a specific building or space.

    Colorful Tree House

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The excitement and “suspense” is in the process and the evolution of results; testing accent colors, for example, will lead you to transform a simple, earthy color into an interesting environment. Using colors that are just a little too bright can make a space uncomfortable and stressful instead of  enjoyable and nourishing.  A one-inch color chip is never a reliable indication of a whole room or even one wall!

    Back to the Suspense, in case you want to read the article also!

    So, a few tips
    * Overestimate the impact: Use your favorite super-bright colors as accents in furnishings, accessories, or smaller wall surfaces
    * Textured wall and ceilings tend to “absorb” more color, while smoother surfaces reflect more color.
    * Lighting will affect your results, whether inside or outside. So be sure to see what colors look like in different times of day and evening.|
    * Use less vivid colors for your larger surfaces
    * Consider using the same color on walls and ceilings to minimize distraction, especially in smaller spaces.
    * Remember that your floors are large surface areas so consider floor color, including carpeting, when you’re thinking of wall colors.
    * Exterior: considering the roofing color (I’ll explore this specific subject later in a separate article)
    * Balancing warm and cool colors, and bright and soft colors, is important to create a comfortable and interesting space.

    One of the most important parts of the process is Testing! Use a roller and be sure to apply two coats over primer to get the most accurate color representation, just as you would do when painting your walls.

    Then, Enjoy the Process!
    Send in your own favorite color combinations to share, with a note about the goal and the use.

     


  • ‘Tis the Season—for Nature-Based Spring Color Palettes!

    We can usually agree that “nature” is the best inspiration for inspired color palettes. But that’s a broad topic! So for purposes of this post about color inspirations, I’ll stick to what is right underfoot, literally.

    It seems that every time I go out for a walk—whether to the beach, a local path, just ‘around town,’ or via a sweeping vista of fields—I love to look around with color palettes in mind. This usually involves being inspired to take some pictures and reflect on relative colors and how they might be used. Or, simply, just open my eyes to the color-view that they land on, and just see the objects and landscapes from an abstract, colorist perspective instead of something more literal.

    Starting with something that has a more far-away focus, the sky and land in a sweeping panorama, these two are not the more pastel kinds of colors we typically think of as “Spring.” Yet, there it is…new growth.

    Translated to simpler colors:

    Large field view

    Clouds and ocean beyond the bands of colorful plants.

     

    Color grasses

    A closer view in a similar color range.

     

    new buds and flowers

    New buds and flowers are a little brighter here.

     

    Beautiful colors and textures.

    What a beautiful, bountiful array of colors and textures in this in-ground bouquet.

     

    Tonal Grasses

    Grasses have their own “tonal excitement.” It’s even better when they move in the breeze. The lightest tips are almost iridescent.

     

    Grasses are colorful.

    A few steps down the path, a different color look entirely. Warm and nurturing, earthy colors offer a sense of security at any time of year. The light ochre and ivory in both these grassy colors can be either main color or accent.

     

    beautiful leaves.

    These delightful little leaves are waiting with open arms for the buds to arrive. The soft blue-green and yellow add a fresh, bright appearance that makes this color group a very liveable one.

     

    Buds to become flowers

    Close up, these little buds almost look like mini-succulents.  The soft pinky-coral of the buds makes the green tones stand out even more. The groups of buds will turn into…

     

    White flowers from buds.

    Creamy color of these almost-white flowers! Note the nearby buds. Deep earthy brown; tonal greens; ivory – together make a lovely palette. Pay attention to your proportions and intensity of colors when you actually apply this color group.

     

    Shocking Pink.

    Amid the lower intensity colors, a shock of beautiful pinks wakes up the morning!

    More color palettes to come!

    A note about color use and modification
     I’m not suggesting that you take these palettes literally or try to apply the colors as entire rooms or even walls. Think of them more as an interesting harmony, that you can use in various proportions and even in deeper, or lighter, or brighter versions of the same colors than are shown here. Take the colors from one group and inject one or two from another one. Granted, that takes a different kind of practice but just give it a shot and see what you can come up with to create the feeling that is portrayed.

    Meanwhile, please feel free to submit your comments and pictures of how you might use or have used these types of colors in your own spaces or client projects. I look forward to hearing from you.


    Do you like to “Color?”  Look for What’s New 

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  • What’s it like to do something really different?

    Over the past year a lot has happened. Moving from Massachusetts, where I lived for a very long time, to California–where I’d lived in the past and “Swore” I’d never live there again! (moral: never say “Never!”)  But here I am, and it is like being on a different planet. And actually a good one! I just got back from sitting in with my fiddle (aka violin), with some local bluegrass players in a weekly “jam”—which is informal, and fortunately for me they are very welcoming and patient.

    But what is also really different? Being willing to take the time to actually DO something really different. Over the past number of months, that has been developing a project that started unintentionally from a spark of inspiration, taking on a life of it’s own as I became more deeply engrossed in its evolution. I’ve always done some kind of artwork, all my life. As long as I can remember, that has been an essential part of life—in many forms over the years—whether painting, sewing, textile painting, furniture and wall painting, print design, rug design, and other media.

    In many ways, working in the field of color consulting—which I’ve been doing since 1986—has been an art expression. But it’s been much more about actually helping others, my clients, tap into, and become more confident in, their own expression with color. I always have loved that part of the work. Now, with an expanded focus on my own art work,  I’m enjoying that experience again but in a very different way.

    Sonoma County view.

    Sonoma County mountains and pasture.

    Most recently, relocating here to Northern California, I started drawing.  It sounds simplistic, but what happened was, for me, remarkable. I found that, with an open and relaxed mind, the images that came out were surprising and actually fascinating. I became spellbound by the process.

    What has developed from that experience is the inspiration to do a book. Actually it’s a coloring book. Now, it’s in the final phases and the whole process is much more involved than I imagined when I started with the notion to do it. In fact, the fascinating thing that has come from working on the book is that, while it is a ‘coloring book’ and as such has a great benefit that is very well known for stress relief, I’ve constructed it in a way that will actually help people develop their own sense of colors and how the colors feel to them that is well beyond simply coloring a picture. I’m looking forward to seeing what evolves with it, and to sharing it with you when it’s ready. I will set up a page on this site for the book, also!

    Sonoma County

    In Sonoma County, a view without boundaries.

    The point about this process, that I’ve started to learn from the current experience, is that just being open to something new—without boundaries—is an exciting experience.  Now, you may be someone for whom this is no surprise and who has always just done anything you’ve wanted to do. But I really believe that many people need to have the little “zing” of inspiration that just does not let go, and the exhilarating experience of the creative surge that comes with a new idea that is actually manifested.  I wish I had an easy recipe for that.

    But it boils down to this: take the time to get out of the usual way of doing things; change up the routine; see things with a new eye, and breathe!

    If you have something to share about embarking on a new experience, doing something really different, please share it in a comment.

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  • Color Geography – the anatomy of a long-distance consult project

    How does geographic location affect color choices?
    Even for long-distance color design projects, considering the lighting and the actual location is a “must.” Imagination is part of it, but also local-area images are important, along with the essential client-provided information.

    This is also where a digital image process can be so helpful. It’s a way to virtually see the building as-if it’s already painted with the new colors, using images the client provides. And it’s those images that offer a way to see what the house or other building looks like in it’s own environment.

    One example, a family’s house in Pennsylvania, a 130-year old Queen Anne Victorian. Being in the Boston area at the time, it was not convenient for me to travel to the client’s location, even though this is always an option for the right circumstances. We started with descriptions, my questionnaire about location, site, and lifestyle, and photos provided by the client.

    Existing colors in Pennsylvania

    “Before” colors: Two views, front and side.

    Mical_BEFORE-sideview - Copy

    The project was a bit complex, since there were a number of structures involved: the house itself, a semi-attached garage and carport, other outbuilding, and a tree house. Many siding a trim styles and materials were also involved. Among them were stone, clapboard, shingles; window and door casings; porch floors, ceilings, and railings; trim details. Also some structural items were part of the picture, like gables and bump-outs.

    Because of the structure, the details and materials, we wanted to create a sense of cohesion in a natural style color palette that was fairly simple throughout. The treehouse was the location to incorporate some bright, more whimsical colors.

    View to carport

    View to carport – Before

    Garage view - before

    Garage view – Before

    Working closely, albeit long-distance, there were many communications and visuals back and forth. Color schemes illustrated with the digital image views were offered and responded to by the clients, and it was very much a collaborative process. We worked our way through a few options, any of which could have worked very well.

    Ultimately, the final palette evolved. Paint plan details and final color images presented and affirmed. The clients reported it was also helpful for their painter, who used the color images as a reference, part of their direction for work.

    New colors in Pennsylvania

    After a few variations…New colors are subtle but make a big difference !

    Side view

    New colors – Side view

    New colors tree house.

    Tree house – back side.

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The clients expressed their experience in this way:
    Engaging your services was priceless and the digital renderings are absolutely worth the investment.  We loved seeing what the house would look like before it was even painted.  Our painter has used the image as his own blueprint for painting the house.  It truly is a must-have, and the end product looks practically just like the digital image.  It certainly put a complete end to the debate over colors that we have had as a couple! (Read more from them, and others, here…) Thanks to the clients for providing photos.

    I’ve enjoyed developing this service and the processes involved. Communication has always been an important element in my life, and this mode is just a development of that aspect. So now that I’m based in California, it’s something I can continue to enjoy offering and doing.


  • Tips for Testing – it’s your most important tool before painting

    Have you ever thought about the tools you need for painting?
    Think of testing your paint selections as the most important ‘tool’ in your bag.

    Tips for Testing

    Q: Are you about to make decisions about paint color?

    Q: Painters and designers: Are you about to recommend paint colors for a client?

    Q: How can you make high quality color test samples to help your clients make color decisions?

    You’re a painting professional who has just been asked for the Thousandth time…”how will it look?” Of course you may have even seen the specified color in many other settings over the years—or, perhaps you’ve never seen it yourself in “real life.” Do you have time to test a lot of color swatches for your clients?

    Whether you are doing this yourself or perhaps even suggesting that the homeowner (or other client) do it and let you know what they want to use (and some people will actually want to do this), I’d like to share a few tips that you can recommend, or even use yourself if they are new to you. It’s not “rocket science,” we all know that.

    So, to keep it simple, I recommend starting with the premise that color looks different in all types of lighting and of course throughout the day—and evening—on different surfaces. Color changes in corners, also, as it intensifies where two walls of the same color meet, and it changes in other ways depending on the actual lighting and also when two walls or surfaces (ie: wall and ceiling) of differing colors meet. It’s the angle that does it – whether the typical 90 degrees or something else, as in a vaulted ceiling, and the reflection of light causes the colors to affect each other.

    Therefore, the following apply:
    1. Make the paint test on a moveable and repositionable surface. Something that can be affixed temporarily to any wall, ceiling, or even floor (when you are painting a floor).

    Note: do not use your blue tape on the edges of this! Tape the back side only.

    2. Make the colored surfaces in proportion to each other, for example: Trim colors will usually be narrower than the wall color surfaces.

    3. Be sure the surface you paint the test on is primed, or at least under-painted with a color similar to what you’re testing. For example, you can of course use poster board but since it’s paper, it must be oil-primed so it does not warp. Personally I like the flat-finish, fast drying low odor products for this.

    Note: I’ve typically prepared up to 20 or so poster boards with this type of oil primer, to have ready to go in advance–and easy to use at a moment’s notice–when preparing color tests for clients.

    4. Roll on 2 coats of your finish (test) color, making the application as close to what you intend to do on the final surface. Use a roller with similar pile to what you plan to use on the job.

    5. Use a stable surface with a texture similar to the wall or surface to be painted. IF the target surface is textured, it’s worth it to make a replica since color reacts so differently with the light falling on textured or smooth surfaces.

    6. Be sure to do the test with the same finish you’ll be using on the actual surface (Flat? Eggshell? Semi-or-high-gloss?)

    7. Label your sample cards and cut a nice, smooth-edged one about 8”x8” to leave with the client for their own ‘shopping’ purposes. I find that people appreciate this especially when they are looking at window treatments and furnishings.

    8. OK, so what about materials? I mentioned using wood, (smooth and primed, of course), poster board and foam core (oil prime first), and you can use other substrates like gator board, or drywall (also prime).

    9. But there is also a really easy solution, one that I personally really like to use and always recommend to my clients who want to do the testing themselves: Small Wall. It’s a great surface, prepared for paint (aka No Priming Needed), a 1’x1’ size (2 in a pack), has a re-positionable adhesive strip on on the back, and can be reused, re-painted. You can even cut it with a solid paper cutter, to make smaller pieces, and hole-punch if that’s how you keep color records. I think they also sell contractor packs of 50, which makes it a very easy process. (check out www.mysmallwall for info)

    Interior or exterior, the same process applies. For exterior work you might want to have some siding pieces available that are at least very similar to the client’s house if not the exact same thing. Doing more than just one strip (minimum 4 to 6 strips high, of clapboard style) will give a more accurate view of what the shadows will do at various times of day. Remember to make trim samples also, in the same widths as the actual trim and casings or other details.

    So, you might ask, why go to all this trouble, anyway? The main reason is: Minimize confusion, make the color choices easy, and be professional. Stripes and color patches on the walls look messy and are visually confusing. You can’t see the specified colors next to each other on a large enough surface because there is just too much going on and the existing colors will inform the appearance of the tested colors.

    To illustrate
    1.How to block other colors – hang a white sheet, use white paper, or paint white primer background.
    Paint test article 1 step in the right direction

    This is a start but there are still too many colors in one area and you can’t move them around the room at all.

    Note: using a roller is best, to get the most solid coverage (Yes, 2 coats) and no streaks. The point is to replicate the actual color appearance of the final surface.

    2. Patches are confusing – use one color at a time. This is a useless waste of time, money and emotion. Let’s hope it’s just done for the sake of this picture and not to actually suggest testing colors like this!
    Paint test article 2-chaos

    3. Place your reviewed color in corners, next to walls, next to ceiling if possible, next to floor or baseboards, next to doorway to see adjacent rooms with the proposed new color you’re reviewing. In this example they are using a large test area and have applied the color in adjacent walls meeting in a corner, but then it’s complicated by using the swatches of other colors, even if they are variations on a theme.
    Paint test article 3-browns

    4. This is another ineffective test, using colors that are too close together, not painted solidly so they look streaky, and not masked from the background. It’s hard to tell what the new colors actually are!
    Paint test article 4

    4-a: Mask the wall with white, make a large, rolled paint sample. Doing this on a separate card or large poster board will give you an idea of the actual color. Can you tell which one this is, from picture 4?
    Paint test article 4a-WhiteMask with RIGHT side test-more bluegray

    4-b: Same process as 4-a. Which of the two “tested” colors is this one?
    Paint test article 4-4b_white mask with LEFT side test - more green

    There is one more thing you can offer, that some painters have even used as their palette application guidelines. That is to order a digital rendition of what the house will look like (exterior) with the various colors on the different parts of the house. That’s a great way to show a couple of color options in an overall visual. But that’s another story! 


     


  • Tips and Views on the meaning of cost–and the cost of color.

    From remodeling your home to mowing your lawn…What is often at the top of a list of hesitations?
    “Price” or “Cost” often includes much more than an exchange of money.

    Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, that it can be the cost of professional services.

    What does this have to do with remodeling, color, and design?
    As with most discussions there are various ways to look at the subject. Ultimately, the question would be “processed-focused” or “outcome-focused.

    Looking at “Cost vs. Pleasure”
    Cost
    Cost is outlay of cash
    Cost is the level of perceived value
    Cost is “Doing it yourself”

    • Time to do the project
    • The “learning curve,”  if it’s something you have not done before
    • Quality of the outcome, value over time

    More cost also often happens if you do not engage a qualified professional.

    take a bath

    You can even take a bath in your DIY bath house!

    Pleasure
    Pleasure of spending money? If you have the resources this can be unimportant or even pleasurable. But pleasure thrives in the value of creating or producing something yourself, the Satisfaction of “Doing it yourself”

    • Enjoying making Time to do the project
    • Enjoying your Achievements in mastering new challenges
    • Appreciating the outcome has value over time
    • In some cases your results don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be valuable

    Pleasure in having engaged a trusted, qualified professional, is a form of “passive participation.”

    An “outcome-focused” view depends on your goals
    What is your biggest obstacle, for either or both of these positions?

    a) as a provider of professional services
    b) if you are considering hiring professional help

    It’s an important subject from either side and I hope you will share your thoughts and experiences.

    For me, one pleasure that’s worth the cost: getting the windows of my house cleaned…Professionally!


  • “Creative” and “Personal” – a Few Short Tips about Paint Finishes

    Think “Creative and Personal” with these short tips about paint finishes.
    Without a lot of discussion, I wanted to present a few concise tips to consider when you’re selecting interior paint colors for your home. Typically, we have three choices for paint finishes (some companies have one or two in between them): Flat, Eggshell, SemiGloss, and High Gloss.

    Deep Color Effects

    Traditional Family Room by Cambridge Architects & Building Designers LDa Architecture & Interiors
    H
    ere’s a good place to use a flat finish for velvet elegance but just be wary of burnishing. Best used in a space that does not have a lot of activity connected to walls!

    A special note about using those fabulous deep, rich colors that you want to appear “velvet-y” is that there is the Plus and the Minus:
    Plus: Flat finish (in any color) masks many types of surface defects, better than any other sheen.
    Minus: The thing to remember when using deeper colors in a flat finish, in any brand of paint, is that the very, very deep colors can ‘burnish’ when you brush against the surface. This means that if your elbow, for example, happens to rub against the painted surface it might make a mark that looks shiny in some lights. On the other hand, a flat finish requires less perfect walls since, being non-reflective, the imperfections are to a degree masked.

    Traditional Living Room by San Francisco General Contractors Cardea Building Co.
    An interesting treatment in which the beams are wall surface—as they should be!

    A few ideas about trim colors

    • Don’t feel obligated to paint all the trim in a room the same color.
    • Think about the purpose of the trim: to accent a particular architectural element, frame a space, or create unity.
    • Painting the trim the same color as your walls, but in a different finish, is a subtle way to add the illusion of a different color (SemiGloss or High Gloss is brighter than the same color in flat, for example)
    • Painting crown moldings the same color as your ceiling, in a different finish, frames the ceiling and defines the space in a subtle way.
    • Painting the crown moldings the same color as your walls adds height.
    • Window trim in the same color as walls opens the space by bringing your focus to the outside.
    • Using a very dark, contrasting trim color in a higher sheen can be a meaningful design accent.


    Contemporary Dining Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Cheryl Burke Interior Design
    T
    his trim is not super dark but it does stand out beautifully.

    A Non-Color Tip
    Be sure to use the right type of roller for the job. Deep texture surface of course needs a thicker roller; new, smooth surfaces can use a very short-nap roller. But in addition to fiber depth there are a number of different fiber combinations that are best for using with different materials.

    This should apply to any paint brand, from the most prosaic to full spectrum paints like EcoHues.


  • What’s Neutral, anyway? Try these tips.

    What is “Neutral,” anyway?
    A multi-use color that is complementary in many settings. Many colors can be made serve this purpose. They don’t have to be taupe, beige, or gray. Depending on the look you want, even vivid or highly contrasting colors will make a harmonious statement.

    The key is balance. Warm, cool, light, dark, saturated, pale…you have an entire spectrum to choose from.

    What to look for in a ‘mutable neutral?’  That will be a color that functions as a neutral but actually looks very color-rich.  One way to discern the colors that will be most flexible in your surroundings is to look for colors that will create the most comfortable background. Colors that are more “complex,” having multiple tints in their paint mix formula, typically fit this requirement.Using Full Spectrum Paints is one sure way to gain this effect.

    Full Spectrum Neutrals

    A few neutrals that are full spectrum colors: no black or gray in the mix!

    Have you heard the terms “Clear” colors; or, “Dirty” palette, and wondered what that means?
    Simply put, “dirty” is not a negative word! In the world of color it refers to a more grayed, complex combination of hues that look ‘toned down.’
    “Clear” colors are usually more crisp, bright, even sometimes brilliant.

    paint fandeck
    Colors that work as “neutral” can be of either type; their function is typically to provide a unifying background, to “neutralize” potential discord created by excessive contrast or pattern. In creating comfortable living spaces, the goal is to have a dynamic balance between neutral and accent. This is possible even in a more “tonal” environment where colors are within a particular color family or range of brightness, as in ‘tones or shades’ of a certain

    type of color. Usually this means something in an earthy palette but technically “tonal” can mean any relatively monochromatic palette.

    EcoHues Fieldstone-and-Pewter

    Neutrals in various hues.

    Introducing textures can provide the dynamic interest and prevent monotony where a more ‘tonal’ palette is preferred.

    With the current trend for using one color–even a white or gray–through the home, you can still keep it interesting with finishes; for example, flat on the wall and ceiling and the same color in a semigloss or even gloss finish on the trim.

    So, think big in the sense of looking at your space from a wide view. It’s not just about deciding what color to paint a wall to be “neutral.” Look at the elements of harmony for a dynamically neutral result.

     


  • About color or not, open your mind to open your eyes

    Are you perhaps one of the many individuals who is “stuck?” That could mean stuck in a pattern of thinking, behavior, reacting and responding…the list is endless.

    I was thinking about this recently and it even applies to color selections. With so many colors to choose from, whether for interior colors, exterior colors, or just new materials, it’s too easy to just revert to what’s comfortable, what we’re used to, and what we know “looks good.”

    On the other hand, there is a lot of stimulation available through examples, options, and advice both valid and incorrect, that can either help focus and crystallize a decision, or can just create more confusion.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    How I personally approach breaking out of a pattern—whether in daily life in general or in my color consulting life, in particular—is pretty simple. A couple things to share at this time:

    1. Get out of the house/office/studio and just take a quick walk. Not a new tip at all…but I like to pick a subject to focus on or observe each time. Something mundane, like Trees, Sidewalk cracks, Smells…you get the idea.
    2. Read a different type of book by a new author, it changes the perspective.
    3. Play a musical instrument from time to time: either an old friend-familiar one, using a different musical style, or something completely different. For example: this summer I went to Fiddle Camp with my son and grandson. That was a new experience – as a classically trained violinist it was a big switch and a great experience! A way to see and hear things anew.

    “Breaking out of the box of off-white” is really just a metaphor for doing something different. Start large, start small, it does not matter. Just Start.

    Enjoy the process; please share your own methods, and let us know how you evolve!

    RE Cert-Vertical-OUTSIDE-DESIGNCONSULT

  • What more is there to say about color?

    So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post here. “Been So Busy…” is what people often say. I guess it’s true that I have ‘been busy.’ But here’s the thing. So much to think about color, so much to say, so little time, and so forth.

    I just decided to Ask! What would you like to hear about?
    It could be one of these topics but feel free to add your own requests!

    • Interior color ideas?
    • Exterior color ideas?
    • Paint or other materials?
    • Color Theory?
    • Client questions?
    • Full Spectrum Paint color questions?
    • Coordinating paint and furnishings?
    • What is supportive color?
    • Applied color psychology?
      …and more?

    My own list of potential posts is much longer than that of course, but sometimes it’s also good to ask for suggestions.

    Let me know, and let’s share some color stories and tips.

    New England Peaches

    Yes, it’s a bowl of peaches!

    Just the image to inspire a dramatic “Fall” palette for interior and exterior house colors.
    Take your pick, and make the most of how you use them.
    Warning: A little bit goes a long way!

    Meanwhile, enjoy the end of Summer. I know I will.


  • What’s here to stay, and here to change? Color Trends. Period.

    Color trends? Here, to stay… and here, to change.
    It’s that time again, Color Trends are all over the place! Most recently, Pantone reports “Emerald Green” as the latest thing. Green is what I call an “available” color, since because it’s right in the middle of the light-wave spectrum it’s a color most comfortably viewed in many instances. It’s mutable and earthy; inspiring of new life, growth, and positive direction. As a paint color, “green” can be flexible in interiors and can be used in many settings.

    Pantone ENERGIZE greens

    The Pantone “Energize” green palette

    Small World, Indeed
    While I don’t have an “emerald green” in the palette, I’ve been delighted to see that many of my own EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint colors  seem to have aligned with some trend colors over the past year. These are from Pantone:

    What’s my own personal opinion?
    While I don’t really have one personal favorite color, I do have a definite point of view. As an architectural color consultant, paint palette designer and rug designer, my viewpoint is threefold.

    First
    My own primary, professional focus as a color consultant is a strong belief in supportive color design. Foremost is function, coupled with aesthetics and, in the homes of individual clients, personal color preferences naturally have a role as well.

    Where function is concerned, color trends are interesting—and of course they are an indicator of products we’ll be seeing going forward. However using a ‘trendy’ color as a selection simply because it’s “hot” or popular does not serve either my client or myself as the consultant. I always take note of trends but no decision or recommendation I’d ever make is trend-driven.

    Second
    As a paint palette designer, I’ve created the EcoHues line of Full Spectrum Paints as a 32-color curated palette that serves a variety of purposes. Because each of our colors has no black or gray—even in our muted ‘neutrals’ or most highly saturated colors—they are easy to decorate with. So, many “trend” colors can create interesting harmonies with these richly-colored full spectrum paints as part of a design plan.

    In creating the palette style and the actual colors, I’ve been influenced by client requests in both commercial and residential settings.  That request is usually in the form of an expressed feeling. The client desires a particular kind of experience.  A typical kind of request is, for example, “I want a relaxing space, a happy, energizing space, and also something that will complement my furnishings.” So, with that as the impetus, the EcoHues palette includes pale to deep stony neutrals; underwater blues; luminous, ethereal sun-filled yellows; antique-flavored greens; bright blues, and richly warm reds and browns evoking exotic sources.

    How do these fit into upcoming trends?
    While I agree with others that we’re influenced by the economy and world events, what I see as important in general is something that’s been happening for a while now:  a resurgence in health and well-being beyond today’s blood pressure. Certainly, the deeper aspect of the experiences that we all desire in our color environments is well beyond the transitory nature of “what’s hot” right now or even for the near future.

    A quick color trend note
    In the world of color and design—in what appeals to us at the deepest level and that will endure well past this year’s colors—is a reference to organic plant and earth sources, natural materials, and textures. As the world becomes culturally smaller and smaller, international flavors will continue in an ongoing appreciation of solid, earthy tones and textures; warm, natural pigment-inspired colors like rusty oranges, paprika and cinnabar reds; brighter, rich hues like Hydrangea and Phoenix Blue, and the deep tones of Mulberry, Nomad and plum.

    More EcoHues colors are represented here, too

    Cultural blending has, in fact, been well underway for some time and will continue to evolve into new and exciting preferences in color combinations and styles. And, in any space or product, surface sheen and texture are important and often dictate a color’s appearance and therefore contribute to our color preferences and uses.

    Third: Home decor follows fashion
    As a rug designer, I incorporate color from an instinctive perspective, starting with what feels right to me from the artistic standpoint. That said, I can of course change colors in any way to suit individuals’ requests. It surprises me sometimes that many of the colors I initially use in my rug designs do show up in a future trend forecast. That is always interesting, and just demonstrates once again that color is universal—and cyclical.

    Pantone "Heritage" palette

    Pantone’s new greens in the Heritage palette can be flexible.

    My basic belief doesn’t just “belong” to me.
    It’s much broader than any individual, and does not depend on color trends at all.
    As humans—without regard to “trends”—we all crave color in myriad varieties of light and bright, muted yet clean, and deep, rich, and dark. It’s all about proportion, balance, and use. I see color trends as something interesting and cyclical, worth observing, with variations in each re-occurrence of a particular color.

    Are you Into Color Trends for your own home, or your business, or just for fun? Visit these places for more inspiration:

    Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paints
    Kate Smith, of Sensational Color
    Color Marketing Group: Where Trends are Defined
    Pantone: a great resource for color information and products

    Change is dynamic. That’s the fascination that keeps us coming back for more! What’s Your “take” on the trends?


  • A Maslow-Inspired Thanksgiving Color Palette

    What are the colors of Thanksgiving?
    So much more than paint, decorating, or  “trend palettes.”
    I wanted to offer some color-reflections for the holiday season, and beyond.

    Maslow's Hierarchy - reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    What’s important?
    Please share your own inspirations and color-reflections!


  • Asking the right questions

    How to listen: Take a tip from Joseph Albers
    Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”

    Among the many “what’s the first step” items in the process of a new client-relationship, asking the right questions is at the top of my list.

    Of course this also goes for any project, even with people we think we know, since each project carries its own set of circumstances. That’s why I love the above statement by Josef Albers.

    Warming up with Red Clay from EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint

    While creatively problem-solving, opportunities to learn—and to teach—abound in every project

    • Help clients discover their own personal design styles
    • Introduce new concepts and ideas
    • Interact with clients in an authentic way
    EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint - Atlantis and Blue Grotto

    “Atlantis,” an EcoHues Full Spectrum color, is on the back wall of dining area and continues into the foyer that is visible from the dining room.

     

    Soft full spectrum colors, kitchen view into family room

    Rich soft colors enhance—and subtly define—three connected spaces, with 3 different close colors.

    One example, from a client’s note to me
    “…you helped take the confusion out of color selection process and opened up our eyes to color choices we never would have thought of using.  We appreciated how easy it was to work with you, and how carefully you listened to our wants and needs.”

    It just takes practice!
    As artists and designers, it’s so easy to become excited about a project and about our own approach and inspirations. The practice is in listening, and advising while not imposing our personal preferences. It’s really all about the goal for every client.

    I’d love to listen. What is your story?


  • Seeing it Anew, for a New Full Spectrum Experience

    Have you ever heard someone say “I can’t believe I never noticed that before?”
    Have you ever said it yourself?

    How many times do we have to see something before we really notice it?
    “IT” could be just about anything, actually, and once you start to think about “IT,” the  list just grows.
    For example:

    • Special People: recognizing, appreciating, not taking them for granted
    • Disorder: Walk into a room you have not been in for a while and see it with new eyes open
    • Color: combinations of color and new ways of seeing what’s familiar
    • Ideas: open your mind, open your heart!
    • And then of course what can follow is “open heart, open mind!”

    What are your recent Openers that you want to share here? Just leave your comment to this post.

    Often we’re simply ‘stuck’ in the place we are. Emotionally, physically, and environmentally—from the perspective of trying to make even a small change. Color and even simple design changes can help to create a full-spectrum life.

    Sometimes an outside view is just what’s needed to reflect and have a new experience.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    If  you want help seeing—and experiencing—your own environment with a new view, just let me know.
    Helping people get ‘un-stuck,’ and evolve through their color and design dilemmas, is my specialty.

    Check out colorful Gift Certificates fo provide a full-spectrum experience for yourself, your family, and friends.


  • Bio-What? Add Nature to your Life and Feel Better Now

    Biophilia.*

    It’s not quite a “household word” yet, but is definitely becoming a regularly accepted fact: including as many references to “nature” as possible—in any kind of space—leads to more healthy living and working environments. How this plays out in a very real, practical way is documented in some very interesting articles.  You might say, it’s  even a matter of common sense—and dollars.

    We humans need to be connected to nature.
    We hear this so much that it borders on sounding trite. But it’s an innate aspect of our biological makeup—we’re “hard-wired” with this need, and it’s a good one. The very real, physical concept of Biophilia brings it into a larger scale of relevance; architectural projects ranging from a variety of workplaces, manufacturing, offices, and especially health care, can reap the largest-scale benefits—from improving their financial conditions to creating more socially healthy civic communities, in general.

    According to a fascinating short article I recently read, * ‘Biophilic Design Could Save Millions of Dollars,’ including more vegetation in cities would visibly reduce crime rates “7 percent,” and subsequently save tremendous amounts of money “in incarceration costs from violent and property crimes.”

    At this point you might be saying…Ok, that’s interesting but “What About Me? What can I do in my own home go introduce a more nature-relevant quality?”

    beach view

    How would you use this image as inspiration for creating your own nature-based color palette?


    Even on a smaller, personal scale

    there’s a huge benefit to creating associations to nature. Whether you have a small rented apartment, or a condo or home of any size that you own, you can really make a difference in the lives of yourself and family members.

    So, on to a few quick comments about using color in your home or workplace, to help introduce some more natural qualities in addition to the houseplants you might already have, and your garden (which are a great start, by the way). We’re back to often-discussed topics included in what I often talk about: Supportive Color Design.

    • Lighting: incorporate as much natural lighting as possible. Be sure to test your paint colors in all available lighting condition in your setting.
    • Color: Specifically the benefits of using Full Spectrum Paint: Eliminate black and gray from your walls. Full spectrum paints using a minimum of 7 tints in each color will get you the closest to the colors of sunlight–at least as close as you can get considering it’s paint.
    • Shapes: Beyond the typical room shapes, look at shapes in nature and see how you can bring those elements into your own home.
    • Space design: Creating a comfortable and supportive interior environment: arrange your furniture and other decorative items in an orderly and balanced way for maximum comfort, taking into consideration their sizes, shapes, and placement in the space.

    From the original article titled “The Economics of Biophilia” prepared by the environmental consulting and strategic planning firm, Terrapin Bright Green,  is this statement by E.O. Wilson, the person who defined Biophilia:

    Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything  else humanity is ever likely to encounter.” – E.O. Wilson, 1984

    Image courtesy of FIGUURA, from the Terrapin Bright Green article.

    How do contemporary designers incorporate Biophilia in their own work? In ways not specifically “interior design” but even in specific products used in interiors. Wall coverings, office cubicle textiles, and the drapes in hospital patients’ rooms are just a few. Textile designer Laura Deubler Mercurio, whose work is shown in the image below, is a long-time colleague of mine through the IACC (International Association of Color Consultants). She is completely involved in Biophilic and fractal design, creating exciting, beautiful and thoughtful designs for woven textiles, that are used in the three types of locations I just mentioned.

    fabric design by Laura Deuble-Mercurio

    Fractal studies have inspired Laura Deubler-Mercurio to design fabrics for hospital use.
    Her textile designs are based on our senses relating to fractal divisions in nature.

    Personally, I’d heard about Biophilia many years ago, and since then that awareness has had a significant connection to my own approach to Supportive Color Design, that applies to interior or exterior color design. Thanks to Eco-Structure.com, a publication of the AIA, for bringing this in-depth article to my attention.

    What you’re reading in this post is intended to encourage you to read the entire, original article that you can download from the Terrapin Bright Green web site.


  • ICFF 2012: Something multicolored, something blue, and many things new.

    It’s not borrowed. It’s multicolored, and it’s sometimes blue.

    Not talking about “June weddings.” In this case, it’s the ICFF show (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). A great place to see international contemporary culture expressed in design. Sometimes reflective of something old, and in many cases something new, and always interesting.

    In any case, I always find this show enjoyable on many levels. Seeing many of the latest new products, color trends and design trends from international designers, and talking with some of them in person, is an experience I find fun and inspiring.

    LIghting at ICFF

    Hand blown glass fixtures - glowing frosty finish

    So, to share just a few of the items that piqued my interest for a number of reasons…
    I enjoyed a brief conversation with Jamie Harris, the artist who created these beautiful hand blown glass light fixtures

    ICFF light

    Hand blown glass fixtures - metallic shimmer

    ICFF lighting

    Sheer color in gorgeous hand blown lighting

     

    Still on the subject of light, check out these amazing solid acrylic tubes. Colors infuse the entire material throughout, and the colors change as you move around the piece according to viewing angles. Even the edges are luminously multicolored

    LED acrlic solid tube

    Walk around and see how the color changes. View 1 of 4

    .ICFF lights

    View 2
    ICFF lighting
    View 3
    ICFF lighting

    View 4

    Imagine the setting for these beautifully sculptural light fixtures.

    Moving along to see some furniture, something I always enjoy.

    glowing furniture

    Fantasy cabinets - one of a few from Boca Do Lobo

    drawers
    It’s not just a stack of sample finishes…Each drawer is an individual, functional drawer.
    unique furniture

    The upper section, and the surface shown below, is beaded by indigenous Huichol people in Mexico. From Espacio Sami Hayek. How do you like the wood?

    Note: the picture on their web site is Not of their ICFF booth…at least not the one I saw there.

    furniture

    Closeup of the artistic detail on this credenza by the same company, Espacio Sami Hayek.

    display booth

    Closeup of a metal wall of a display "booth"

    japanese tetilres

    Something Blue! So very beautiful, and "Wabi-Sabi." Amazing textiles from Kyoto Rakushian

    closeup japanese textiles

    I could not resist sharing a closer view.

    And last, but not least, for now…

    funky furnituire

    Just so we don't get too serious..simple, funky, and having a sense of humor.

    So much to see and enjoy in one day, these are just a few of my favorites.

    Do you have a favorite? If so, which piece–and where would you use it?


  • Color Q & A: Use Deep Color and be Happy

    A question I received recently about using deep color prompted me to share this topic with you. First of all, I’d like to state that Yes, you can be “Happy” using deep colors.

    Q: We recently moved…
    into a new contemporary high-rise home , and ditched all the British colonial/country French stuff. We’re still living with builder’s paint and are getting eager to make a change. We’d like to try something new (maybe charcoal!) but afraid it will end up a somber cave instead of elegant and crisp.

    A: The question of using deep colors…
    always comes with the concern “Won’t it make the space feel small?”  Since there is not one simple answer to this, I wanted to briefly touch on a few ideas about the subject. You might call it “advice on psychology of painting darker colors”—but that has such a formidable sound, I’d rather call it “some tips about using deep colors.”

    Psychological color associations are so interesting. “Darker colors” often are described as serious, depressing, sad, formidable (see above comment), and other similar mood-and-feeling descriptions. The flip side of the description might be “sophisticated, intimate, cozy, meditative, exotic, solid…” and so forth. In other words, there are many ways to look at how we describe and feel about color!

    But psychological associations aside, we have the physical attributes of the space (lighting, room size, wall shapes, ceiling height, floor color and material) and the question of function (what you want to do there)   are all part of the picture and process of choosing the best colors for your needs.

    A few ideas on making a space elegant and crisp using deep colors

    • Deep on the walls and ceiling, bright contrast on the trim.
    • Select brightly colored accessories
    • Use texture and light
    • Use the deep colors of walls as a dramatic background for artwork or collections
    • Use a deep color on an accent wall to extend the view in the room and expand the space.

    EcoHues-FieldPewter
    Deep, earthy EcoHues Full Spectrum – Fieldstone in a very small bedroom, opens to EcoHues Full Spectrum – Pewter on walls and ceiling in the adjacent powder room. Cabinets and lower walls are EcoHues Full Spectrum – Char-Plum Gray.

    deep color bright accent
    Closeup of cabinet in above picture: EcoHues Full Spectrum – CharPlum Gray. Brightly colored glass knobs make the deep color stand out and look even richer.

    Deep Chocolate accent wall in Kitchen Gallery
    Deep color on the walls of this kitchen “gallery” is Chocolate, from Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum paints.

     

    EcoHues-Atlantis
    Deep color again, this one is EcoHues Full Spectrum – Atlantis. Note the wall color is also used on the ceiling in the alcove portion of this space.(below)
    alcove in entry

    Below: Deep on the trim, with contrast color on walls and ceiling (in this case, the ceiling is a soft tinted white)

    . dark trim lighter walls

    Walls are Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum – Mustard Seed. Trim is Benjamin Moore HC-67.

    Do have an experience using deeper colors that you would like to share?

    My goal is to help create the best possible spaces with colors that help you enjoy your life and accomplish what you dream of doing. Let me help you “Get outside the box of off-white with colors for your vibrant life.


  • Linen-weave texture: made a mistake but now corrected

    Silly mistakes will happen. Most recently here: posting something by mistake, then deleting it to try to correct the error, then deciding to re-post.

    This recent post was brought to my attention today by a friendly reader who wrote me an email that the page was no longer available.

    What’s good about that? Now I can make it better.

    What happened?
    I’d posted an image of a decorative finish, a project in which I’d painted a linen-weave strie design in two colors, two layers. The problem was that I’d not included any info on the picture!

    This can be a lovely way to create a hand-painted wall covering, using colors to create depth and interest.

    How you do it
    First layer, apply glaze evenly, blend, then drag vertically with a wallpaper brush. When it’s dry, do the second layer: the same process, different color, drag horizontally.

    Tip
    Tape off vertical sections and work in alternating areas. You will actually save some time because you can use a faster-drying glaze. By the time you work your way around the room you may be able to go back and do the 2nd layer. Granted, this may not work for all sizes and shapes of rooms but it is one way to do this process.

    What’s your experience?
    Have you made tech-errors that were embarrassing? On the other subject, have you tried DIY-decorative finishes that did not work out?


  • Before you shop for a rug, consider this very important issue.

    An area rug can be many things in your decor, and making the decision about which rug to choose from the literally thousands available (and as you know, that’s an understatement) can, in that way, be an experience that resembles selecting paint.

    In choosing an area rug, your main considerations might be your use for the rug, and your budget. Other issues besides cost, color, and design, will include longevity. For some details in a brief “rug primer,” this article in the recent Fabulous Floors Blog will give you some tips to take note of, even before you start to shop for a rug.

    A big part of what’s important in rug selection, however, is the issue of who actually made the rug.  Adults? Slave-labor children? Goodweave.org is making great strides in eliminating child labor in the rug industry; rescuing children from the labor market and providing education and a chance at a higher quality of life. This video is one of three from GoodWeave that addresses that subject.  If it’s something you have never thought about, you may be surprised—so please take a look. Each GoodWeave member pays a portion of your purchase price of a GoodWeave certified rug toward this goal.

    At least, paint does not carry those considerations.  While some of the main issues with paint are comparable: What you need and where you will use it; budget; VOCs and personal health concerns; durability; ease of touch-up; and of course your color choices, that include colors that have black in them, or true Full Spectrum colors with no black and a minimum of seven tints in each!

    But, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed—about either rugs, or paint.

    For a rug, be sure to go to a dealer that carries rugs from GoodWeave suppliers. Each GoodWeave certified rug will have a numbered label. For your dilemmas about paint selections, I am here to help.


‘Tis the Season—for Nature-Based Spring Color Palettes!

Integral ColorViews Blog

Color—as a subject for discussion and also as an experience— is fun, exhilarating, fanciful, practical, and always interesting. Color use also has serious aspects. As a colorist, I look forward to sharing a wide range of tips, books, and color-and-design related subjects with you. You're invited to share your own color inspirations!

  • More Palettes – the Many Moods of Summer

    Here it is, only the end of July and yet it almost feels like “Summer” is over. Why is that? Time passes so quickly? Maybe it’s because we’re already seeing Fall fashions.

    But wait, there’s more!’ (ok where have we heard that before?) It is still happening and in a typically glorious way, too.  So, not really after the fact—but rather in reflecting on recent memory both mental and visual—I wanted to present a few color palette ideas based on natural surroundings and a few other things, too. After all, the “Many Moods of Summer” includes a lot! It’s not all sailing, sunny, and roses…we have some moody and darkly mysterious moments also. That’s what adds the dimensional quality, it seems to me. So whether it’s for paint colors interior or exterior,  your home or your workplace, fashion, or just another view of the world, new color  palettes can offer new inspiration.

    Obviously, like many of you I enjoy being inspired by color combinations that occur in nature. After all, that’s where it begins. There is of course the related risk of being redundant, or looking like a ‘copier.’ Yet, that’s not really been a problem for me. I just am inspired by and where inspiration strikes and, while I find it interesting to see what else is ‘out there,’ I’m  not really directed by the colors that others present.

     

    Fresh warmth of yellow roses

    Wake up to the sunny, fresh energy of yellows.

    The perfect range of yellows in golden roses, golden glow.

     

    Striated roses.

    Is this just a local type of rose? I have no idea! But they’re beautiful.

    I’ve never seen these before they popped up in our front yard! They elicit a smile every day.What a pleasure.

    Another viewpoint of rose-inspired colors.

    Another aspect of colors related to the same flowers.

    Same flowers, different interpretation.

     

    Multihued roses

    Translucent, multicolored petals spike the imagination.

    Looking past the most obvious view, the juicy-looking underside of another multicolored rose feels like sunset hues.

    A different view of the same rose

    Yet, such a different view from the top

    View from above, the same brilliant flower!

     

    Look past the subject, include the cool accents.

    Cool accents included

    Balance is key. As with many things, looking past the obvious adds dimension. In this case, it’s adding a little coolness from the surroundings.

    Speaking of dimension and balance, a trip one day to Point Reyes offered this surprise, moody inspiration.

    Peaceful color in Point Reyes

    A softly misty morning has a peaceful quality.

    And night skies provide a different kind of dramatic palette.

    Night time view on the road.

    Dramatic night skies

     

    Beautiful Bark.

    What is this? Bark on a tree. That is…Under the bark, the tree.

    A more “neutral” style of palette is inspired here by the swirling growth patterns of the tree and it’s amazing colors and shapes.

     

    Historic design.

    Antique stencilled wood.

    Pieces of antique wood taken from a historic building. Beautiful stencilled patterns and a lovely color combination that could create a mood that’s festive or calm. In person, of course, it’s even more impressive.

    Back to a favorite place for long walks, this is a peaceful location. The view is from a bridge.

    View from a bridge

    View of this waterway taken from a bridge.

    Similar, but each visit is a unique experience with something different to focus on. How can you not be inspired?

    A different experience

    Every visit to this area provides a different experience.

    Another tree, another world, a completely different look. But that’s no surprise, just inspiring.

    Tree bark

    More Bark!

    Back to the playground!

    Playground structure

    Fun in the Sun at the playground. A very straightforward palette just feels like playing outdoors.

    So, with my usual caveat to not use these color selections as rules, or dictates, or even to recommend using them as you seem them together here, I hope you enjoy the combinations.

    And as always, I invite your comments.


    Instagram page – bjacobscolor

    Open your windows—and your eyes—when you Check out Barbara’s new book at the What’s New section.

    Download free article


  • How to choose the right colors! OR: is there a simple way to choose the right colors?

    That’s the question, and it applies to both interiors and exteriors of homes and other buildings.

    What’s the answer?
    I remember reading and enjoying an article in the New York Times from a while ago by one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors, Lee Child, a master in creating compelling characters and situations with a very particular flavor in the “action” genre. If you’re looking for entertaining, fast-paced reading his work is a lot of fun to read.

    His article, “A Simple Way to Create Suspense” is essentially about his own process in creating suspense in his writing.

    How can that idea possibly translate to selecting the best colors for our homes or workplaces?
    Ask yourself the right questions! Since just about every question you can ask about color will have some kind of answer—and ideally help direct you to a useful solution—try starting with these:

    * Where is the place?
    * Is your subject the interior or the exterior?
    * What do you, or others using the space, want to do there?
    * Do you have specific goals, or is the need a more general one?

    But naturally there are some guidelines that will help direct you to the best combinations of colors for your purposes. Qualities of space and use like wall size, texture, lighting (natural and artificial), and surroundings in general are some of the considerations.

    Begin each project by defining a sense of purpose and goal, which is where the questions and the guidelines come in. a client’s personal preferences play a role as well but typically are just part of the picture.  Color trends, while interesting, often inspiring, and fun to follow, really have little to do with arriving at the most effective and supportive color palettes for a specific building or space.

    Colorful Tree House

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The excitement and “suspense” is in the process and the evolution of results; testing accent colors, for example, will lead you to transform a simple, earthy color into an interesting environment. Using colors that are just a little too bright can make a space uncomfortable and stressful instead of  enjoyable and nourishing.  A one-inch color chip is never a reliable indication of a whole room or even one wall!

    Back to the Suspense, in case you want to read the article also!

    So, a few tips
    * Overestimate the impact: Use your favorite super-bright colors as accents in furnishings, accessories, or smaller wall surfaces
    * Textured wall and ceilings tend to “absorb” more color, while smoother surfaces reflect more color.
    * Lighting will affect your results, whether inside or outside. So be sure to see what colors look like in different times of day and evening.|
    * Use less vivid colors for your larger surfaces
    * Consider using the same color on walls and ceilings to minimize distraction, especially in smaller spaces.
    * Remember that your floors are large surface areas so consider floor color, including carpeting, when you’re thinking of wall colors.
    * Exterior: considering the roofing color (I’ll explore this specific subject later in a separate article)
    * Balancing warm and cool colors, and bright and soft colors, is important to create a comfortable and interesting space.

    One of the most important parts of the process is Testing! Use a roller and be sure to apply two coats over primer to get the most accurate color representation, just as you would do when painting your walls.

    Then, Enjoy the Process!
    Send in your own favorite color combinations to share, with a note about the goal and the use.

     


  • ‘Tis the Season—for Nature-Based Spring Color Palettes!

    We can usually agree that “nature” is the best inspiration for inspired color palettes. But that’s a broad topic! So for purposes of this post about color inspirations, I’ll stick to what is right underfoot, literally.

    It seems that every time I go out for a walk—whether to the beach, a local path, just ‘around town,’ or via a sweeping vista of fields—I love to look around with color palettes in mind. This usually involves being inspired to take some pictures and reflect on relative colors and how they might be used. Or, simply, just open my eyes to the color-view that they land on, and just see the objects and landscapes from an abstract, colorist perspective instead of something more literal.

    Starting with something that has a more far-away focus, the sky and land in a sweeping panorama, these two are not the more pastel kinds of colors we typically think of as “Spring.” Yet, there it is…new growth.

    Translated to simpler colors:

    Large field view

    Clouds and ocean beyond the bands of colorful plants.

     

    Color grasses

    A closer view in a similar color range.

     

    new buds and flowers

    New buds and flowers are a little brighter here.

     

    Beautiful colors and textures.

    What a beautiful, bountiful array of colors and textures in this in-ground bouquet.

     

    Tonal Grasses

    Grasses have their own “tonal excitement.” It’s even better when they move in the breeze. The lightest tips are almost iridescent.

     

    Grasses are colorful.

    A few steps down the path, a different color look entirely. Warm and nurturing, earthy colors offer a sense of security at any time of year. The light ochre and ivory in both these grassy colors can be either main color or accent.

     

    beautiful leaves.

    These delightful little leaves are waiting with open arms for the buds to arrive. The soft blue-green and yellow add a fresh, bright appearance that makes this color group a very liveable one.

     

    Buds to become flowers

    Close up, these little buds almost look like mini-succulents.  The soft pinky-coral of the buds makes the green tones stand out even more. The groups of buds will turn into…

     

    White flowers from buds.

    Creamy color of these almost-white flowers! Note the nearby buds. Deep earthy brown; tonal greens; ivory – together make a lovely palette. Pay attention to your proportions and intensity of colors when you actually apply this color group.

     

    Shocking Pink.

    Amid the lower intensity colors, a shock of beautiful pinks wakes up the morning!

    More color palettes to come!

    A note about color use and modification
     I’m not suggesting that you take these palettes literally or try to apply the colors as entire rooms or even walls. Think of them more as an interesting harmony, that you can use in various proportions and even in deeper, or lighter, or brighter versions of the same colors than are shown here. Take the colors from one group and inject one or two from another one. Granted, that takes a different kind of practice but just give it a shot and see what you can come up with to create the feeling that is portrayed.

    Meanwhile, please feel free to submit your comments and pictures of how you might use or have used these types of colors in your own spaces or client projects. I look forward to hearing from you.


    Do you like to “Color?”  Look for What’s New 

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    Visit my Instagram page – bjacobscolor. 

     

     


  • What’s it like to do something really different?

    Over the past year a lot has happened. Moving from Massachusetts, where I lived for a very long time, to California–where I’d lived in the past and “Swore” I’d never live there again! (moral: never say “Never!”)  But here I am, and it is like being on a different planet. And actually a good one! I just got back from sitting in with my fiddle (aka violin), with some local bluegrass players in a weekly “jam”—which is informal, and fortunately for me they are very welcoming and patient.

    But what is also really different? Being willing to take the time to actually DO something really different. Over the past number of months, that has been developing a project that started unintentionally from a spark of inspiration, taking on a life of it’s own as I became more deeply engrossed in its evolution. I’ve always done some kind of artwork, all my life. As long as I can remember, that has been an essential part of life—in many forms over the years—whether painting, sewing, textile painting, furniture and wall painting, print design, rug design, and other media.

    In many ways, working in the field of color consulting—which I’ve been doing since 1986—has been an art expression. But it’s been much more about actually helping others, my clients, tap into, and become more confident in, their own expression with color. I always have loved that part of the work. Now, with an expanded focus on my own art work,  I’m enjoying that experience again but in a very different way.

    Sonoma County view.

    Sonoma County mountains and pasture.

    Most recently, relocating here to Northern California, I started drawing.  It sounds simplistic, but what happened was, for me, remarkable. I found that, with an open and relaxed mind, the images that came out were surprising and actually fascinating. I became spellbound by the process.

    What has developed from that experience is the inspiration to do a book. Actually it’s a coloring book. Now, it’s in the final phases and the whole process is much more involved than I imagined when I started with the notion to do it. In fact, the fascinating thing that has come from working on the book is that, while it is a ‘coloring book’ and as such has a great benefit that is very well known for stress relief, I’ve constructed it in a way that will actually help people develop their own sense of colors and how the colors feel to them that is well beyond simply coloring a picture. I’m looking forward to seeing what evolves with it, and to sharing it with you when it’s ready. I will set up a page on this site for the book, also!

    Sonoma County

    In Sonoma County, a view without boundaries.

    The point about this process, that I’ve started to learn from the current experience, is that just being open to something new—without boundaries—is an exciting experience.  Now, you may be someone for whom this is no surprise and who has always just done anything you’ve wanted to do. But I really believe that many people need to have the little “zing” of inspiration that just does not let go, and the exhilarating experience of the creative surge that comes with a new idea that is actually manifested.  I wish I had an easy recipe for that.

    But it boils down to this: take the time to get out of the usual way of doing things; change up the routine; see things with a new eye, and breathe!

    If you have something to share about embarking on a new experience, doing something really different, please share it in a comment.

    Visit my Instagram page – bjacobscolor. 

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  • Color Geography – the anatomy of a long-distance consult project

    How does geographic location affect color choices?
    Even for long-distance color design projects, considering the lighting and the actual location is a “must.” Imagination is part of it, but also local-area images are important, along with the essential client-provided information.

    This is also where a digital image process can be so helpful. It’s a way to virtually see the building as-if it’s already painted with the new colors, using images the client provides. And it’s those images that offer a way to see what the house or other building looks like in it’s own environment.

    One example, a family’s house in Pennsylvania, a 130-year old Queen Anne Victorian. Being in the Boston area at the time, it was not convenient for me to travel to the client’s location, even though this is always an option for the right circumstances. We started with descriptions, my questionnaire about location, site, and lifestyle, and photos provided by the client.

    Existing colors in Pennsylvania

    “Before” colors: Two views, front and side.

    Mical_BEFORE-sideview - Copy

    The project was a bit complex, since there were a number of structures involved: the house itself, a semi-attached garage and carport, other outbuilding, and a tree house. Many siding a trim styles and materials were also involved. Among them were stone, clapboard, shingles; window and door casings; porch floors, ceilings, and railings; trim details. Also some structural items were part of the picture, like gables and bump-outs.

    Because of the structure, the details and materials, we wanted to create a sense of cohesion in a natural style color palette that was fairly simple throughout. The treehouse was the location to incorporate some bright, more whimsical colors.

    View to carport

    View to carport – Before

    Garage view - before

    Garage view – Before

    Working closely, albeit long-distance, there were many communications and visuals back and forth. Color schemes illustrated with the digital image views were offered and responded to by the clients, and it was very much a collaborative process. We worked our way through a few options, any of which could have worked very well.

    Ultimately, the final palette evolved. Paint plan details and final color images presented and affirmed. The clients reported it was also helpful for their painter, who used the color images as a reference, part of their direction for work.

    New colors in Pennsylvania

    After a few variations…New colors are subtle but make a big difference !

    Side view

    New colors – Side view

    New colors tree house.

    Tree house – back side.

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The clients expressed their experience in this way:
    Engaging your services was priceless and the digital renderings are absolutely worth the investment.  We loved seeing what the house would look like before it was even painted.  Our painter has used the image as his own blueprint for painting the house.  It truly is a must-have, and the end product looks practically just like the digital image.  It certainly put a complete end to the debate over colors that we have had as a couple! (Read more from them, and others, here…) Thanks to the clients for providing photos.

    I’ve enjoyed developing this service and the processes involved. Communication has always been an important element in my life, and this mode is just a development of that aspect. So now that I’m based in California, it’s something I can continue to enjoy offering and doing.


  • Tips for Testing – it’s your most important tool before painting

    Have you ever thought about the tools you need for painting?
    Think of testing your paint selections as the most important ‘tool’ in your bag.

    Tips for Testing

    Q: Are you about to make decisions about paint color?

    Q: Painters and designers: Are you about to recommend paint colors for a client?

    Q: How can you make high quality color test samples to help your clients make color decisions?

    You’re a painting professional who has just been asked for the Thousandth time…”how will it look?” Of course you may have even seen the specified color in many other settings over the years—or, perhaps you’ve never seen it yourself in “real life.” Do you have time to test a lot of color swatches for your clients?

    Whether you are doing this yourself or perhaps even suggesting that the homeowner (or other client) do it and let you know what they want to use (and some people will actually want to do this), I’d like to share a few tips that you can recommend, or even use yourself if they are new to you. It’s not “rocket science,” we all know that.

    So, to keep it simple, I recommend starting with the premise that color looks different in all types of lighting and of course throughout the day—and evening—on different surfaces. Color changes in corners, also, as it intensifies where two walls of the same color meet, and it changes in other ways depending on the actual lighting and also when two walls or surfaces (ie: wall and ceiling) of differing colors meet. It’s the angle that does it – whether the typical 90 degrees or something else, as in a vaulted ceiling, and the reflection of light causes the colors to affect each other.

    Therefore, the following apply:
    1. Make the paint test on a moveable and repositionable surface. Something that can be affixed temporarily to any wall, ceiling, or even floor (when you are painting a floor).

    Note: do not use your blue tape on the edges of this! Tape the back side only.

    2. Make the colored surfaces in proportion to each other, for example: Trim colors will usually be narrower than the wall color surfaces.

    3. Be sure the surface you paint the test on is primed, or at least under-painted with a color similar to what you’re testing. For example, you can of course use poster board but since it’s paper, it must be oil-primed so it does not warp. Personally I like the flat-finish, fast drying low odor products for this.

    Note: I’ve typically prepared up to 20 or so poster boards with this type of oil primer, to have ready to go in advance–and easy to use at a moment’s notice–when preparing color tests for clients.

    4. Roll on 2 coats of your finish (test) color, making the application as close to what you intend to do on the final surface. Use a roller with similar pile to what you plan to use on the job.

    5. Use a stable surface with a texture similar to the wall or surface to be painted. IF the target surface is textured, it’s worth it to make a replica since color reacts so differently with the light falling on textured or smooth surfaces.

    6. Be sure to do the test with the same finish you’ll be using on the actual surface (Flat? Eggshell? Semi-or-high-gloss?)

    7. Label your sample cards and cut a nice, smooth-edged one about 8”x8” to leave with the client for their own ‘shopping’ purposes. I find that people appreciate this especially when they are looking at window treatments and furnishings.

    8. OK, so what about materials? I mentioned using wood, (smooth and primed, of course), poster board and foam core (oil prime first), and you can use other substrates like gator board, or drywall (also prime).

    9. But there is also a really easy solution, one that I personally really like to use and always recommend to my clients who want to do the testing themselves: Small Wall. It’s a great surface, prepared for paint (aka No Priming Needed), a 1’x1’ size (2 in a pack), has a re-positionable adhesive strip on on the back, and can be reused, re-painted. You can even cut it with a solid paper cutter, to make smaller pieces, and hole-punch if that’s how you keep color records. I think they also sell contractor packs of 50, which makes it a very easy process. (check out www.mysmallwall for info)

    Interior or exterior, the same process applies. For exterior work you might want to have some siding pieces available that are at least very similar to the client’s house if not the exact same thing. Doing more than just one strip (minimum 4 to 6 strips high, of clapboard style) will give a more accurate view of what the shadows will do at various times of day. Remember to make trim samples also, in the same widths as the actual trim and casings or other details.

    So, you might ask, why go to all this trouble, anyway? The main reason is: Minimize confusion, make the color choices easy, and be professional. Stripes and color patches on the walls look messy and are visually confusing. You can’t see the specified colors next to each other on a large enough surface because there is just too much going on and the existing colors will inform the appearance of the tested colors.

    To illustrate
    1.How to block other colors – hang a white sheet, use white paper, or paint white primer background.
    Paint test article 1 step in the right direction

    This is a start but there are still too many colors in one area and you can’t move them around the room at all.

    Note: using a roller is best, to get the most solid coverage (Yes, 2 coats) and no streaks. The point is to replicate the actual color appearance of the final surface.

    2. Patches are confusing – use one color at a time. This is a useless waste of time, money and emotion. Let’s hope it’s just done for the sake of this picture and not to actually suggest testing colors like this!
    Paint test article 2-chaos

    3. Place your reviewed color in corners, next to walls, next to ceiling if possible, next to floor or baseboards, next to doorway to see adjacent rooms with the proposed new color you’re reviewing. In this example they are using a large test area and have applied the color in adjacent walls meeting in a corner, but then it’s complicated by using the swatches of other colors, even if they are variations on a theme.
    Paint test article 3-browns

    4. This is another ineffective test, using colors that are too close together, not painted solidly so they look streaky, and not masked from the background. It’s hard to tell what the new colors actually are!
    Paint test article 4

    4-a: Mask the wall with white, make a large, rolled paint sample. Doing this on a separate card or large poster board will give you an idea of the actual color. Can you tell which one this is, from picture 4?
    Paint test article 4a-WhiteMask with RIGHT side test-more bluegray

    4-b: Same process as 4-a. Which of the two “tested” colors is this one?
    Paint test article 4-4b_white mask with LEFT side test - more green

    There is one more thing you can offer, that some painters have even used as their palette application guidelines. That is to order a digital rendition of what the house will look like (exterior) with the various colors on the different parts of the house. That’s a great way to show a couple of color options in an overall visual. But that’s another story! 


     


  • Tips and Views on the meaning of cost–and the cost of color.

    From remodeling your home to mowing your lawn…What is often at the top of a list of hesitations?
    “Price” or “Cost” often includes much more than an exchange of money.

    Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, that it can be the cost of professional services.

    What does this have to do with remodeling, color, and design?
    As with most discussions there are various ways to look at the subject. Ultimately, the question would be “processed-focused” or “outcome-focused.

    Looking at “Cost vs. Pleasure”
    Cost
    Cost is outlay of cash
    Cost is the level of perceived value
    Cost is “Doing it yourself”

    • Time to do the project
    • The “learning curve,”  if it’s something you have not done before
    • Quality of the outcome, value over time

    More cost also often happens if you do not engage a qualified professional.

    take a bath

    You can even take a bath in your DIY bath house!

    Pleasure
    Pleasure of spending money? If you have the resources this can be unimportant or even pleasurable. But pleasure thrives in the value of creating or producing something yourself, the Satisfaction of “Doing it yourself”

    • Enjoying making Time to do the project
    • Enjoying your Achievements in mastering new challenges
    • Appreciating the outcome has value over time
    • In some cases your results don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be valuable

    Pleasure in having engaged a trusted, qualified professional, is a form of “passive participation.”

    An “outcome-focused” view depends on your goals
    What is your biggest obstacle, for either or both of these positions?

    a) as a provider of professional services
    b) if you are considering hiring professional help

    It’s an important subject from either side and I hope you will share your thoughts and experiences.

    For me, one pleasure that’s worth the cost: getting the windows of my house cleaned…Professionally!


  • “Creative” and “Personal” – a Few Short Tips about Paint Finishes

    Think “Creative and Personal” with these short tips about paint finishes.
    Without a lot of discussion, I wanted to present a few concise tips to consider when you’re selecting interior paint colors for your home. Typically, we have three choices for paint finishes (some companies have one or two in between them): Flat, Eggshell, SemiGloss, and High Gloss.

    Deep Color Effects

    Traditional Family Room by Cambridge Architects & Building Designers LDa Architecture & Interiors
    H
    ere’s a good place to use a flat finish for velvet elegance but just be wary of burnishing. Best used in a space that does not have a lot of activity connected to walls!

    A special note about using those fabulous deep, rich colors that you want to appear “velvet-y” is that there is the Plus and the Minus:
    Plus: Flat finish (in any color) masks many types of surface defects, better than any other sheen.
    Minus: The thing to remember when using deeper colors in a flat finish, in any brand of paint, is that the very, very deep colors can ‘burnish’ when you brush against the surface. This means that if your elbow, for example, happens to rub against the painted surface it might make a mark that looks shiny in some lights. On the other hand, a flat finish requires less perfect walls since, being non-reflective, the imperfections are to a degree masked.

    Traditional Living Room by San Francisco General Contractors Cardea Building Co.
    An interesting treatment in which the beams are wall surface—as they should be!

    A few ideas about trim colors

    • Don’t feel obligated to paint all the trim in a room the same color.
    • Think about the purpose of the trim: to accent a particular architectural element, frame a space, or create unity.
    • Painting the trim the same color as your walls, but in a different finish, is a subtle way to add the illusion of a different color (SemiGloss or High Gloss is brighter than the same color in flat, for example)
    • Painting crown moldings the same color as your ceiling, in a different finish, frames the ceiling and defines the space in a subtle way.
    • Painting the crown moldings the same color as your walls adds height.
    • Window trim in the same color as walls opens the space by bringing your focus to the outside.
    • Using a very dark, contrasting trim color in a higher sheen can be a meaningful design accent.


    Contemporary Dining Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Cheryl Burke Interior Design
    T
    his trim is not super dark but it does stand out beautifully.

    A Non-Color Tip
    Be sure to use the right type of roller for the job. Deep texture surface of course needs a thicker roller; new, smooth surfaces can use a very short-nap roller. But in addition to fiber depth there are a number of different fiber combinations that are best for using with different materials.

    This should apply to any paint brand, from the most prosaic to full spectrum paints like EcoHues.


  • What’s Neutral, anyway? Try these tips.

    What is “Neutral,” anyway?
    A multi-use color that is complementary in many settings. Many colors can be made serve this purpose. They don’t have to be taupe, beige, or gray. Depending on the look you want, even vivid or highly contrasting colors will make a harmonious statement.

    The key is balance. Warm, cool, light, dark, saturated, pale…you have an entire spectrum to choose from.

    What to look for in a ‘mutable neutral?’  That will be a color that functions as a neutral but actually looks very color-rich.  One way to discern the colors that will be most flexible in your surroundings is to look for colors that will create the most comfortable background. Colors that are more “complex,” having multiple tints in their paint mix formula, typically fit this requirement.Using Full Spectrum Paints is one sure way to gain this effect.

    Full Spectrum Neutrals

    A few neutrals that are full spectrum colors: no black or gray in the mix!

    Have you heard the terms “Clear” colors; or, “Dirty” palette, and wondered what that means?
    Simply put, “dirty” is not a negative word! In the world of color it refers to a more grayed, complex combination of hues that look ‘toned down.’
    “Clear” colors are usually more crisp, bright, even sometimes brilliant.

    paint fandeck
    Colors that work as “neutral” can be of either type; their function is typically to provide a unifying background, to “neutralize” potential discord created by excessive contrast or pattern. In creating comfortable living spaces, the goal is to have a dynamic balance between neutral and accent. This is possible even in a more “tonal” environment where colors are within a particular color family or range of brightness, as in ‘tones or shades’ of a certain

    type of color. Usually this means something in an earthy palette but technically “tonal” can mean any relatively monochromatic palette.

    EcoHues Fieldstone-and-Pewter

    Neutrals in various hues.

    Introducing textures can provide the dynamic interest and prevent monotony where a more ‘tonal’ palette is preferred.

    With the current trend for using one color–even a white or gray–through the home, you can still keep it interesting with finishes; for example, flat on the wall and ceiling and the same color in a semigloss or even gloss finish on the trim.

    So, think big in the sense of looking at your space from a wide view. It’s not just about deciding what color to paint a wall to be “neutral.” Look at the elements of harmony for a dynamically neutral result.

     


  • About color or not, open your mind to open your eyes

    Are you perhaps one of the many individuals who is “stuck?” That could mean stuck in a pattern of thinking, behavior, reacting and responding…the list is endless.

    I was thinking about this recently and it even applies to color selections. With so many colors to choose from, whether for interior colors, exterior colors, or just new materials, it’s too easy to just revert to what’s comfortable, what we’re used to, and what we know “looks good.”

    On the other hand, there is a lot of stimulation available through examples, options, and advice both valid and incorrect, that can either help focus and crystallize a decision, or can just create more confusion.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    How I personally approach breaking out of a pattern—whether in daily life in general or in my color consulting life, in particular—is pretty simple. A couple things to share at this time:

    1. Get out of the house/office/studio and just take a quick walk. Not a new tip at all…but I like to pick a subject to focus on or observe each time. Something mundane, like Trees, Sidewalk cracks, Smells…you get the idea.
    2. Read a different type of book by a new author, it changes the perspective.
    3. Play a musical instrument from time to time: either an old friend-familiar one, using a different musical style, or something completely different. For example: this summer I went to Fiddle Camp with my son and grandson. That was a new experience – as a classically trained violinist it was a big switch and a great experience! A way to see and hear things anew.

    “Breaking out of the box of off-white” is really just a metaphor for doing something different. Start large, start small, it does not matter. Just Start.

    Enjoy the process; please share your own methods, and let us know how you evolve!

    RE Cert-Vertical-OUTSIDE-DESIGNCONSULT

  • What more is there to say about color?

    So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post here. “Been So Busy…” is what people often say. I guess it’s true that I have ‘been busy.’ But here’s the thing. So much to think about color, so much to say, so little time, and so forth.

    I just decided to Ask! What would you like to hear about?
    It could be one of these topics but feel free to add your own requests!

    • Interior color ideas?
    • Exterior color ideas?
    • Paint or other materials?
    • Color Theory?
    • Client questions?
    • Full Spectrum Paint color questions?
    • Coordinating paint and furnishings?
    • What is supportive color?
    • Applied color psychology?
      …and more?

    My own list of potential posts is much longer than that of course, but sometimes it’s also good to ask for suggestions.

    Let me know, and let’s share some color stories and tips.

    New England Peaches

    Yes, it’s a bowl of peaches!

    Just the image to inspire a dramatic “Fall” palette for interior and exterior house colors.
    Take your pick, and make the most of how you use them.
    Warning: A little bit goes a long way!

    Meanwhile, enjoy the end of Summer. I know I will.


  • What’s here to stay, and here to change? Color Trends. Period.

    Color trends? Here, to stay… and here, to change.
    It’s that time again, Color Trends are all over the place! Most recently, Pantone reports “Emerald Green” as the latest thing. Green is what I call an “available” color, since because it’s right in the middle of the light-wave spectrum it’s a color most comfortably viewed in many instances. It’s mutable and earthy; inspiring of new life, growth, and positive direction. As a paint color, “green” can be flexible in interiors and can be used in many settings.

    Pantone ENERGIZE greens

    The Pantone “Energize” green palette

    Small World, Indeed
    While I don’t have an “emerald green” in the palette, I’ve been delighted to see that many of my own EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint colors  seem to have aligned with some trend colors over the past year. These are from Pantone:

    What’s my own personal opinion?
    While I don’t really have one personal favorite color, I do have a definite point of view. As an architectural color consultant, paint palette designer and rug designer, my viewpoint is threefold.

    First
    My own primary, professional focus as a color consultant is a strong belief in supportive color design. Foremost is function, coupled with aesthetics and, in the homes of individual clients, personal color preferences naturally have a role as well.

    Where function is concerned, color trends are interesting—and of course they are an indicator of products we’ll be seeing going forward. However using a ‘trendy’ color as a selection simply because it’s “hot” or popular does not serve either my client or myself as the consultant. I always take note of trends but no decision or recommendation I’d ever make is trend-driven.

    Second
    As a paint palette designer, I’ve created the EcoHues line of Full Spectrum Paints as a 32-color curated palette that serves a variety of purposes. Because each of our colors has no black or gray—even in our muted ‘neutrals’ or most highly saturated colors—they are easy to decorate with. So, many “trend” colors can create interesting harmonies with these richly-colored full spectrum paints as part of a design plan.

    In creating the palette style and the actual colors, I’ve been influenced by client requests in both commercial and residential settings.  That request is usually in the form of an expressed feeling. The client desires a particular kind of experience.  A typical kind of request is, for example, “I want a relaxing space, a happy, energizing space, and also something that will complement my furnishings.” So, with that as the impetus, the EcoHues palette includes pale to deep stony neutrals; underwater blues; luminous, ethereal sun-filled yellows; antique-flavored greens; bright blues, and richly warm reds and browns evoking exotic sources.

    How do these fit into upcoming trends?
    While I agree with others that we’re influenced by the economy and world events, what I see as important in general is something that’s been happening for a while now:  a resurgence in health and well-being beyond today’s blood pressure. Certainly, the deeper aspect of the experiences that we all desire in our color environments is well beyond the transitory nature of “what’s hot” right now or even for the near future.

    A quick color trend note
    In the world of color and design—in what appeals to us at the deepest level and that will endure well past this year’s colors—is a reference to organic plant and earth sources, natural materials, and textures. As the world becomes culturally smaller and smaller, international flavors will continue in an ongoing appreciation of solid, earthy tones and textures; warm, natural pigment-inspired colors like rusty oranges, paprika and cinnabar reds; brighter, rich hues like Hydrangea and Phoenix Blue, and the deep tones of Mulberry, Nomad and plum.

    More EcoHues colors are represented here, too

    Cultural blending has, in fact, been well underway for some time and will continue to evolve into new and exciting preferences in color combinations and styles. And, in any space or product, surface sheen and texture are important and often dictate a color’s appearance and therefore contribute to our color preferences and uses.

    Third: Home decor follows fashion
    As a rug designer, I incorporate color from an instinctive perspective, starting with what feels right to me from the artistic standpoint. That said, I can of course change colors in any way to suit individuals’ requests. It surprises me sometimes that many of the colors I initially use in my rug designs do show up in a future trend forecast. That is always interesting, and just demonstrates once again that color is universal—and cyclical.

    Pantone "Heritage" palette

    Pantone’s new greens in the Heritage palette can be flexible.

    My basic belief doesn’t just “belong” to me.
    It’s much broader than any individual, and does not depend on color trends at all.
    As humans—without regard to “trends”—we all crave color in myriad varieties of light and bright, muted yet clean, and deep, rich, and dark. It’s all about proportion, balance, and use. I see color trends as something interesting and cyclical, worth observing, with variations in each re-occurrence of a particular color.

    Are you Into Color Trends for your own home, or your business, or just for fun? Visit these places for more inspiration:

    Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paints
    Kate Smith, of Sensational Color
    Color Marketing Group: Where Trends are Defined
    Pantone: a great resource for color information and products

    Change is dynamic. That’s the fascination that keeps us coming back for more! What’s Your “take” on the trends?


  • A Maslow-Inspired Thanksgiving Color Palette

    What are the colors of Thanksgiving?
    So much more than paint, decorating, or  “trend palettes.”
    I wanted to offer some color-reflections for the holiday season, and beyond.

    Maslow's Hierarchy - reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    What’s important?
    Please share your own inspirations and color-reflections!


  • Asking the right questions

    How to listen: Take a tip from Joseph Albers
    Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”

    Among the many “what’s the first step” items in the process of a new client-relationship, asking the right questions is at the top of my list.

    Of course this also goes for any project, even with people we think we know, since each project carries its own set of circumstances. That’s why I love the above statement by Josef Albers.

    Warming up with Red Clay from EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint

    While creatively problem-solving, opportunities to learn—and to teach—abound in every project

    • Help clients discover their own personal design styles
    • Introduce new concepts and ideas
    • Interact with clients in an authentic way
    EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint - Atlantis and Blue Grotto

    “Atlantis,” an EcoHues Full Spectrum color, is on the back wall of dining area and continues into the foyer that is visible from the dining room.

     

    Soft full spectrum colors, kitchen view into family room

    Rich soft colors enhance—and subtly define—three connected spaces, with 3 different close colors.

    One example, from a client’s note to me
    “…you helped take the confusion out of color selection process and opened up our eyes to color choices we never would have thought of using.  We appreciated how easy it was to work with you, and how carefully you listened to our wants and needs.”

    It just takes practice!
    As artists and designers, it’s so easy to become excited about a project and about our own approach and inspirations. The practice is in listening, and advising while not imposing our personal preferences. It’s really all about the goal for every client.

    I’d love to listen. What is your story?


  • Seeing it Anew, for a New Full Spectrum Experience

    Have you ever heard someone say “I can’t believe I never noticed that before?”
    Have you ever said it yourself?

    How many times do we have to see something before we really notice it?
    “IT” could be just about anything, actually, and once you start to think about “IT,” the  list just grows.
    For example:

    • Special People: recognizing, appreciating, not taking them for granted
    • Disorder: Walk into a room you have not been in for a while and see it with new eyes open
    • Color: combinations of color and new ways of seeing what’s familiar
    • Ideas: open your mind, open your heart!
    • And then of course what can follow is “open heart, open mind!”

    What are your recent Openers that you want to share here? Just leave your comment to this post.

    Often we’re simply ‘stuck’ in the place we are. Emotionally, physically, and environmentally—from the perspective of trying to make even a small change. Color and even simple design changes can help to create a full-spectrum life.

    Sometimes an outside view is just what’s needed to reflect and have a new experience.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    If  you want help seeing—and experiencing—your own environment with a new view, just let me know.
    Helping people get ‘un-stuck,’ and evolve through their color and design dilemmas, is my specialty.

    Check out colorful Gift Certificates fo provide a full-spectrum experience for yourself, your family, and friends.


  • Bio-What? Add Nature to your Life and Feel Better Now

    Biophilia.*

    It’s not quite a “household word” yet, but is definitely becoming a regularly accepted fact: including as many references to “nature” as possible—in any kind of space—leads to more healthy living and working environments. How this plays out in a very real, practical way is documented in some very interesting articles.  You might say, it’s  even a matter of common sense—and dollars.

    We humans need to be connected to nature.
    We hear this so much that it borders on sounding trite. But it’s an innate aspect of our biological makeup—we’re “hard-wired” with this need, and it’s a good one. The very real, physical concept of Biophilia brings it into a larger scale of relevance; architectural projects ranging from a variety of workplaces, manufacturing, offices, and especially health care, can reap the largest-scale benefits—from improving their financial conditions to creating more socially healthy civic communities, in general.

    According to a fascinating short article I recently read, * ‘Biophilic Design Could Save Millions of Dollars,’ including more vegetation in cities would visibly reduce crime rates “7 percent,” and subsequently save tremendous amounts of money “in incarceration costs from violent and property crimes.”

    At this point you might be saying…Ok, that’s interesting but “What About Me? What can I do in my own home go introduce a more nature-relevant quality?”

    beach view

    How would you use this image as inspiration for creating your own nature-based color palette?


    Even on a smaller, personal scale

    there’s a huge benefit to creating associations to nature. Whether you have a small rented apartment, or a condo or home of any size that you own, you can really make a difference in the lives of yourself and family members.

    So, on to a few quick comments about using color in your home or workplace, to help introduce some more natural qualities in addition to the houseplants you might already have, and your garden (which are a great start, by the way). We’re back to often-discussed topics included in what I often talk about: Supportive Color Design.

    • Lighting: incorporate as much natural lighting as possible. Be sure to test your paint colors in all available lighting condition in your setting.
    • Color: Specifically the benefits of using Full Spectrum Paint: Eliminate black and gray from your walls. Full spectrum paints using a minimum of 7 tints in each color will get you the closest to the colors of sunlight–at least as close as you can get considering it’s paint.
    • Shapes: Beyond the typical room shapes, look at shapes in nature and see how you can bring those elements into your own home.
    • Space design: Creating a comfortable and supportive interior environment: arrange your furniture and other decorative items in an orderly and balanced way for maximum comfort, taking into consideration their sizes, shapes, and placement in the space.

    From the original article titled “The Economics of Biophilia” prepared by the environmental consulting and strategic planning firm, Terrapin Bright Green,  is this statement by E.O. Wilson, the person who defined Biophilia:

    Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything  else humanity is ever likely to encounter.” – E.O. Wilson, 1984

    Image courtesy of FIGUURA, from the Terrapin Bright Green article.

    How do contemporary designers incorporate Biophilia in their own work? In ways not specifically “interior design” but even in specific products used in interiors. Wall coverings, office cubicle textiles, and the drapes in hospital patients’ rooms are just a few. Textile designer Laura Deubler Mercurio, whose work is shown in the image below, is a long-time colleague of mine through the IACC (International Association of Color Consultants). She is completely involved in Biophilic and fractal design, creating exciting, beautiful and thoughtful designs for woven textiles, that are used in the three types of locations I just mentioned.

    fabric design by Laura Deuble-Mercurio

    Fractal studies have inspired Laura Deubler-Mercurio to design fabrics for hospital use.
    Her textile designs are based on our senses relating to fractal divisions in nature.

    Personally, I’d heard about Biophilia many years ago, and since then that awareness has had a significant connection to my own approach to Supportive Color Design, that applies to interior or exterior color design. Thanks to Eco-Structure.com, a publication of the AIA, for bringing this in-depth article to my attention.

    What you’re reading in this post is intended to encourage you to read the entire, original article that you can download from the Terrapin Bright Green web site.


  • ICFF 2012: Something multicolored, something blue, and many things new.

    It’s not borrowed. It’s multicolored, and it’s sometimes blue.

    Not talking about “June weddings.” In this case, it’s the ICFF show (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). A great place to see international contemporary culture expressed in design. Sometimes reflective of something old, and in many cases something new, and always interesting.

    In any case, I always find this show enjoyable on many levels. Seeing many of the latest new products, color trends and design trends from international designers, and talking with some of them in person, is an experience I find fun and inspiring.

    LIghting at ICFF

    Hand blown glass fixtures - glowing frosty finish

    So, to share just a few of the items that piqued my interest for a number of reasons…
    I enjoyed a brief conversation with Jamie Harris, the artist who created these beautiful hand blown glass light fixtures

    ICFF light

    Hand blown glass fixtures - metallic shimmer

    ICFF lighting

    Sheer color in gorgeous hand blown lighting

     

    Still on the subject of light, check out these amazing solid acrylic tubes. Colors infuse the entire material throughout, and the colors change as you move around the piece according to viewing angles. Even the edges are luminously multicolored

    LED acrlic solid tube

    Walk around and see how the color changes. View 1 of 4

    .ICFF lights

    View 2
    ICFF lighting
    View 3
    ICFF lighting

    View 4

    Imagine the setting for these beautifully sculptural light fixtures.

    Moving along to see some furniture, something I always enjoy.

    glowing furniture

    Fantasy cabinets - one of a few from Boca Do Lobo

    drawers
    It’s not just a stack of sample finishes…Each drawer is an individual, functional drawer.
    unique furniture

    The upper section, and the surface shown below, is beaded by indigenous Huichol people in Mexico. From Espacio Sami Hayek. How do you like the wood?

    Note: the picture on their web site is Not of their ICFF booth…at least not the one I saw there.

    furniture

    Closeup of the artistic detail on this credenza by the same company, Espacio Sami Hayek.

    display booth

    Closeup of a metal wall of a display "booth"

    japanese tetilres

    Something Blue! So very beautiful, and "Wabi-Sabi." Amazing textiles from Kyoto Rakushian

    closeup japanese textiles

    I could not resist sharing a closer view.

    And last, but not least, for now…

    funky furnituire

    Just so we don't get too serious..simple, funky, and having a sense of humor.

    So much to see and enjoy in one day, these are just a few of my favorites.

    Do you have a favorite? If so, which piece–and where would you use it?


  • Color Q & A: Use Deep Color and be Happy

    A question I received recently about using deep color prompted me to share this topic with you. First of all, I’d like to state that Yes, you can be “Happy” using deep colors.

    Q: We recently moved…
    into a new contemporary high-rise home , and ditched all the British colonial/country French stuff. We’re still living with builder’s paint and are getting eager to make a change. We’d like to try something new (maybe charcoal!) but afraid it will end up a somber cave instead of elegant and crisp.

    A: The question of using deep colors…
    always comes with the concern “Won’t it make the space feel small?”  Since there is not one simple answer to this, I wanted to briefly touch on a few ideas about the subject. You might call it “advice on psychology of painting darker colors”—but that has such a formidable sound, I’d rather call it “some tips about using deep colors.”

    Psychological color associations are so interesting. “Darker colors” often are described as serious, depressing, sad, formidable (see above comment), and other similar mood-and-feeling descriptions. The flip side of the description might be “sophisticated, intimate, cozy, meditative, exotic, solid…” and so forth. In other words, there are many ways to look at how we describe and feel about color!

    But psychological associations aside, we have the physical attributes of the space (lighting, room size, wall shapes, ceiling height, floor color and material) and the question of function (what you want to do there)   are all part of the picture and process of choosing the best colors for your needs.

    A few ideas on making a space elegant and crisp using deep colors

    • Deep on the walls and ceiling, bright contrast on the trim.
    • Select brightly colored accessories
    • Use texture and light
    • Use the deep colors of walls as a dramatic background for artwork or collections
    • Use a deep color on an accent wall to extend the view in the room and expand the space.

    EcoHues-FieldPewter
    Deep, earthy EcoHues Full Spectrum – Fieldstone in a very small bedroom, opens to EcoHues Full Spectrum – Pewter on walls and ceiling in the adjacent powder room. Cabinets and lower walls are EcoHues Full Spectrum – Char-Plum Gray.

    deep color bright accent
    Closeup of cabinet in above picture: EcoHues Full Spectrum – CharPlum Gray. Brightly colored glass knobs make the deep color stand out and look even richer.

    Deep Chocolate accent wall in Kitchen Gallery
    Deep color on the walls of this kitchen “gallery” is Chocolate, from Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum paints.

     

    EcoHues-Atlantis
    Deep color again, this one is EcoHues Full Spectrum – Atlantis. Note the wall color is also used on the ceiling in the alcove portion of this space.(below)
    alcove in entry

    Below: Deep on the trim, with contrast color on walls and ceiling (in this case, the ceiling is a soft tinted white)

    . dark trim lighter walls

    Walls are Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum – Mustard Seed. Trim is Benjamin Moore HC-67.

    Do have an experience using deeper colors that you would like to share?

    My goal is to help create the best possible spaces with colors that help you enjoy your life and accomplish what you dream of doing. Let me help you “Get outside the box of off-white with colors for your vibrant life.


  • Linen-weave texture: made a mistake but now corrected

    Silly mistakes will happen. Most recently here: posting something by mistake, then deleting it to try to correct the error, then deciding to re-post.

    This recent post was brought to my attention today by a friendly reader who wrote me an email that the page was no longer available.

    What’s good about that? Now I can make it better.

    What happened?
    I’d posted an image of a decorative finish, a project in which I’d painted a linen-weave strie design in two colors, two layers. The problem was that I’d not included any info on the picture!

    This can be a lovely way to create a hand-painted wall covering, using colors to create depth and interest.

    How you do it
    First layer, apply glaze evenly, blend, then drag vertically with a wallpaper brush. When it’s dry, do the second layer: the same process, different color, drag horizontally.

    Tip
    Tape off vertical sections and work in alternating areas. You will actually save some time because you can use a faster-drying glaze. By the time you work your way around the room you may be able to go back and do the 2nd layer. Granted, this may not work for all sizes and shapes of rooms but it is one way to do this process.

    What’s your experience?
    Have you made tech-errors that were embarrassing? On the other subject, have you tried DIY-decorative finishes that did not work out?


  • Before you shop for a rug, consider this very important issue.

    An area rug can be many things in your decor, and making the decision about which rug to choose from the literally thousands available (and as you know, that’s an understatement) can, in that way, be an experience that resembles selecting paint.

    In choosing an area rug, your main considerations might be your use for the rug, and your budget. Other issues besides cost, color, and design, will include longevity. For some details in a brief “rug primer,” this article in the recent Fabulous Floors Blog will give you some tips to take note of, even before you start to shop for a rug.

    A big part of what’s important in rug selection, however, is the issue of who actually made the rug.  Adults? Slave-labor children? Goodweave.org is making great strides in eliminating child labor in the rug industry; rescuing children from the labor market and providing education and a chance at a higher quality of life. This video is one of three from GoodWeave that addresses that subject.  If it’s something you have never thought about, you may be surprised—so please take a look. Each GoodWeave member pays a portion of your purchase price of a GoodWeave certified rug toward this goal.

    At least, paint does not carry those considerations.  While some of the main issues with paint are comparable: What you need and where you will use it; budget; VOCs and personal health concerns; durability; ease of touch-up; and of course your color choices, that include colors that have black in them, or true Full Spectrum colors with no black and a minimum of seven tints in each!

    But, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed—about either rugs, or paint.

    For a rug, be sure to go to a dealer that carries rugs from GoodWeave suppliers. Each GoodWeave certified rug will have a numbered label. For your dilemmas about paint selections, I am here to help.


What’s it like to do something really different?

Integral ColorViews Blog

Color—as a subject for discussion and also as an experience— is fun, exhilarating, fanciful, practical, and always interesting. Color use also has serious aspects. As a colorist, I look forward to sharing a wide range of tips, books, and color-and-design related subjects with you. You're invited to share your own color inspirations!

  • More Palettes – the Many Moods of Summer

    Here it is, only the end of July and yet it almost feels like “Summer” is over. Why is that? Time passes so quickly? Maybe it’s because we’re already seeing Fall fashions.

    But wait, there’s more!’ (ok where have we heard that before?) It is still happening and in a typically glorious way, too.  So, not really after the fact—but rather in reflecting on recent memory both mental and visual—I wanted to present a few color palette ideas based on natural surroundings and a few other things, too. After all, the “Many Moods of Summer” includes a lot! It’s not all sailing, sunny, and roses…we have some moody and darkly mysterious moments also. That’s what adds the dimensional quality, it seems to me. So whether it’s for paint colors interior or exterior,  your home or your workplace, fashion, or just another view of the world, new color  palettes can offer new inspiration.

    Obviously, like many of you I enjoy being inspired by color combinations that occur in nature. After all, that’s where it begins. There is of course the related risk of being redundant, or looking like a ‘copier.’ Yet, that’s not really been a problem for me. I just am inspired by and where inspiration strikes and, while I find it interesting to see what else is ‘out there,’ I’m  not really directed by the colors that others present.

     

    Fresh warmth of yellow roses

    Wake up to the sunny, fresh energy of yellows.

    The perfect range of yellows in golden roses, golden glow.

     

    Striated roses.

    Is this just a local type of rose? I have no idea! But they’re beautiful.

    I’ve never seen these before they popped up in our front yard! They elicit a smile every day.What a pleasure.

    Another viewpoint of rose-inspired colors.

    Another aspect of colors related to the same flowers.

    Same flowers, different interpretation.

     

    Multihued roses

    Translucent, multicolored petals spike the imagination.

    Looking past the most obvious view, the juicy-looking underside of another multicolored rose feels like sunset hues.

    A different view of the same rose

    Yet, such a different view from the top

    View from above, the same brilliant flower!

     

    Look past the subject, include the cool accents.

    Cool accents included

    Balance is key. As with many things, looking past the obvious adds dimension. In this case, it’s adding a little coolness from the surroundings.

    Speaking of dimension and balance, a trip one day to Point Reyes offered this surprise, moody inspiration.

    Peaceful color in Point Reyes

    A softly misty morning has a peaceful quality.

    And night skies provide a different kind of dramatic palette.

    Night time view on the road.

    Dramatic night skies

     

    Beautiful Bark.

    What is this? Bark on a tree. That is…Under the bark, the tree.

    A more “neutral” style of palette is inspired here by the swirling growth patterns of the tree and it’s amazing colors and shapes.

     

    Historic design.

    Antique stencilled wood.

    Pieces of antique wood taken from a historic building. Beautiful stencilled patterns and a lovely color combination that could create a mood that’s festive or calm. In person, of course, it’s even more impressive.

    Back to a favorite place for long walks, this is a peaceful location. The view is from a bridge.

    View from a bridge

    View of this waterway taken from a bridge.

    Similar, but each visit is a unique experience with something different to focus on. How can you not be inspired?

    A different experience

    Every visit to this area provides a different experience.

    Another tree, another world, a completely different look. But that’s no surprise, just inspiring.

    Tree bark

    More Bark!

    Back to the playground!

    Playground structure

    Fun in the Sun at the playground. A very straightforward palette just feels like playing outdoors.

    So, with my usual caveat to not use these color selections as rules, or dictates, or even to recommend using them as you seem them together here, I hope you enjoy the combinations.

    And as always, I invite your comments.


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  • How to choose the right colors! OR: is there a simple way to choose the right colors?

    That’s the question, and it applies to both interiors and exteriors of homes and other buildings.

    What’s the answer?
    I remember reading and enjoying an article in the New York Times from a while ago by one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors, Lee Child, a master in creating compelling characters and situations with a very particular flavor in the “action” genre. If you’re looking for entertaining, fast-paced reading his work is a lot of fun to read.

    His article, “A Simple Way to Create Suspense” is essentially about his own process in creating suspense in his writing.

    How can that idea possibly translate to selecting the best colors for our homes or workplaces?
    Ask yourself the right questions! Since just about every question you can ask about color will have some kind of answer—and ideally help direct you to a useful solution—try starting with these:

    * Where is the place?
    * Is your subject the interior or the exterior?
    * What do you, or others using the space, want to do there?
    * Do you have specific goals, or is the need a more general one?

    But naturally there are some guidelines that will help direct you to the best combinations of colors for your purposes. Qualities of space and use like wall size, texture, lighting (natural and artificial), and surroundings in general are some of the considerations.

    Begin each project by defining a sense of purpose and goal, which is where the questions and the guidelines come in. a client’s personal preferences play a role as well but typically are just part of the picture.  Color trends, while interesting, often inspiring, and fun to follow, really have little to do with arriving at the most effective and supportive color palettes for a specific building or space.

    Colorful Tree House

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The excitement and “suspense” is in the process and the evolution of results; testing accent colors, for example, will lead you to transform a simple, earthy color into an interesting environment. Using colors that are just a little too bright can make a space uncomfortable and stressful instead of  enjoyable and nourishing.  A one-inch color chip is never a reliable indication of a whole room or even one wall!

    Back to the Suspense, in case you want to read the article also!

    So, a few tips
    * Overestimate the impact: Use your favorite super-bright colors as accents in furnishings, accessories, or smaller wall surfaces
    * Textured wall and ceilings tend to “absorb” more color, while smoother surfaces reflect more color.
    * Lighting will affect your results, whether inside or outside. So be sure to see what colors look like in different times of day and evening.|
    * Use less vivid colors for your larger surfaces
    * Consider using the same color on walls and ceilings to minimize distraction, especially in smaller spaces.
    * Remember that your floors are large surface areas so consider floor color, including carpeting, when you’re thinking of wall colors.
    * Exterior: considering the roofing color (I’ll explore this specific subject later in a separate article)
    * Balancing warm and cool colors, and bright and soft colors, is important to create a comfortable and interesting space.

    One of the most important parts of the process is Testing! Use a roller and be sure to apply two coats over primer to get the most accurate color representation, just as you would do when painting your walls.

    Then, Enjoy the Process!
    Send in your own favorite color combinations to share, with a note about the goal and the use.

     


  • ‘Tis the Season—for Nature-Based Spring Color Palettes!

    We can usually agree that “nature” is the best inspiration for inspired color palettes. But that’s a broad topic! So for purposes of this post about color inspirations, I’ll stick to what is right underfoot, literally.

    It seems that every time I go out for a walk—whether to the beach, a local path, just ‘around town,’ or via a sweeping vista of fields—I love to look around with color palettes in mind. This usually involves being inspired to take some pictures and reflect on relative colors and how they might be used. Or, simply, just open my eyes to the color-view that they land on, and just see the objects and landscapes from an abstract, colorist perspective instead of something more literal.

    Starting with something that has a more far-away focus, the sky and land in a sweeping panorama, these two are not the more pastel kinds of colors we typically think of as “Spring.” Yet, there it is…new growth.

    Translated to simpler colors:

    Large field view

    Clouds and ocean beyond the bands of colorful plants.

     

    Color grasses

    A closer view in a similar color range.

     

    new buds and flowers

    New buds and flowers are a little brighter here.

     

    Beautiful colors and textures.

    What a beautiful, bountiful array of colors and textures in this in-ground bouquet.

     

    Tonal Grasses

    Grasses have their own “tonal excitement.” It’s even better when they move in the breeze. The lightest tips are almost iridescent.

     

    Grasses are colorful.

    A few steps down the path, a different color look entirely. Warm and nurturing, earthy colors offer a sense of security at any time of year. The light ochre and ivory in both these grassy colors can be either main color or accent.

     

    beautiful leaves.

    These delightful little leaves are waiting with open arms for the buds to arrive. The soft blue-green and yellow add a fresh, bright appearance that makes this color group a very liveable one.

     

    Buds to become flowers

    Close up, these little buds almost look like mini-succulents.  The soft pinky-coral of the buds makes the green tones stand out even more. The groups of buds will turn into…

     

    White flowers from buds.

    Creamy color of these almost-white flowers! Note the nearby buds. Deep earthy brown; tonal greens; ivory – together make a lovely palette. Pay attention to your proportions and intensity of colors when you actually apply this color group.

     

    Shocking Pink.

    Amid the lower intensity colors, a shock of beautiful pinks wakes up the morning!

    More color palettes to come!

    A note about color use and modification
     I’m not suggesting that you take these palettes literally or try to apply the colors as entire rooms or even walls. Think of them more as an interesting harmony, that you can use in various proportions and even in deeper, or lighter, or brighter versions of the same colors than are shown here. Take the colors from one group and inject one or two from another one. Granted, that takes a different kind of practice but just give it a shot and see what you can come up with to create the feeling that is portrayed.

    Meanwhile, please feel free to submit your comments and pictures of how you might use or have used these types of colors in your own spaces or client projects. I look forward to hearing from you.


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  • What’s it like to do something really different?

    Over the past year a lot has happened. Moving from Massachusetts, where I lived for a very long time, to California–where I’d lived in the past and “Swore” I’d never live there again! (moral: never say “Never!”)  But here I am, and it is like being on a different planet. And actually a good one! I just got back from sitting in with my fiddle (aka violin), with some local bluegrass players in a weekly “jam”—which is informal, and fortunately for me they are very welcoming and patient.

    But what is also really different? Being willing to take the time to actually DO something really different. Over the past number of months, that has been developing a project that started unintentionally from a spark of inspiration, taking on a life of it’s own as I became more deeply engrossed in its evolution. I’ve always done some kind of artwork, all my life. As long as I can remember, that has been an essential part of life—in many forms over the years—whether painting, sewing, textile painting, furniture and wall painting, print design, rug design, and other media.

    In many ways, working in the field of color consulting—which I’ve been doing since 1986—has been an art expression. But it’s been much more about actually helping others, my clients, tap into, and become more confident in, their own expression with color. I always have loved that part of the work. Now, with an expanded focus on my own art work,  I’m enjoying that experience again but in a very different way.

    Sonoma County view.

    Sonoma County mountains and pasture.

    Most recently, relocating here to Northern California, I started drawing.  It sounds simplistic, but what happened was, for me, remarkable. I found that, with an open and relaxed mind, the images that came out were surprising and actually fascinating. I became spellbound by the process.

    What has developed from that experience is the inspiration to do a book. Actually it’s a coloring book. Now, it’s in the final phases and the whole process is much more involved than I imagined when I started with the notion to do it. In fact, the fascinating thing that has come from working on the book is that, while it is a ‘coloring book’ and as such has a great benefit that is very well known for stress relief, I’ve constructed it in a way that will actually help people develop their own sense of colors and how the colors feel to them that is well beyond simply coloring a picture. I’m looking forward to seeing what evolves with it, and to sharing it with you when it’s ready. I will set up a page on this site for the book, also!

    Sonoma County

    In Sonoma County, a view without boundaries.

    The point about this process, that I’ve started to learn from the current experience, is that just being open to something new—without boundaries—is an exciting experience.  Now, you may be someone for whom this is no surprise and who has always just done anything you’ve wanted to do. But I really believe that many people need to have the little “zing” of inspiration that just does not let go, and the exhilarating experience of the creative surge that comes with a new idea that is actually manifested.  I wish I had an easy recipe for that.

    But it boils down to this: take the time to get out of the usual way of doing things; change up the routine; see things with a new eye, and breathe!

    If you have something to share about embarking on a new experience, doing something really different, please share it in a comment.

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  • Color Geography – the anatomy of a long-distance consult project

    How does geographic location affect color choices?
    Even for long-distance color design projects, considering the lighting and the actual location is a “must.” Imagination is part of it, but also local-area images are important, along with the essential client-provided information.

    This is also where a digital image process can be so helpful. It’s a way to virtually see the building as-if it’s already painted with the new colors, using images the client provides. And it’s those images that offer a way to see what the house or other building looks like in it’s own environment.

    One example, a family’s house in Pennsylvania, a 130-year old Queen Anne Victorian. Being in the Boston area at the time, it was not convenient for me to travel to the client’s location, even though this is always an option for the right circumstances. We started with descriptions, my questionnaire about location, site, and lifestyle, and photos provided by the client.

    Existing colors in Pennsylvania

    “Before” colors: Two views, front and side.

    Mical_BEFORE-sideview - Copy

    The project was a bit complex, since there were a number of structures involved: the house itself, a semi-attached garage and carport, other outbuilding, and a tree house. Many siding a trim styles and materials were also involved. Among them were stone, clapboard, shingles; window and door casings; porch floors, ceilings, and railings; trim details. Also some structural items were part of the picture, like gables and bump-outs.

    Because of the structure, the details and materials, we wanted to create a sense of cohesion in a natural style color palette that was fairly simple throughout. The treehouse was the location to incorporate some bright, more whimsical colors.

    View to carport

    View to carport – Before

    Garage view - before

    Garage view – Before

    Working closely, albeit long-distance, there were many communications and visuals back and forth. Color schemes illustrated with the digital image views were offered and responded to by the clients, and it was very much a collaborative process. We worked our way through a few options, any of which could have worked very well.

    Ultimately, the final palette evolved. Paint plan details and final color images presented and affirmed. The clients reported it was also helpful for their painter, who used the color images as a reference, part of their direction for work.

    New colors in Pennsylvania

    After a few variations…New colors are subtle but make a big difference !

    Side view

    New colors – Side view

    New colors tree house.

    Tree house – back side.

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The clients expressed their experience in this way:
    Engaging your services was priceless and the digital renderings are absolutely worth the investment.  We loved seeing what the house would look like before it was even painted.  Our painter has used the image as his own blueprint for painting the house.  It truly is a must-have, and the end product looks practically just like the digital image.  It certainly put a complete end to the debate over colors that we have had as a couple! (Read more from them, and others, here…) Thanks to the clients for providing photos.

    I’ve enjoyed developing this service and the processes involved. Communication has always been an important element in my life, and this mode is just a development of that aspect. So now that I’m based in California, it’s something I can continue to enjoy offering and doing.


  • Tips for Testing – it’s your most important tool before painting

    Have you ever thought about the tools you need for painting?
    Think of testing your paint selections as the most important ‘tool’ in your bag.

    Tips for Testing

    Q: Are you about to make decisions about paint color?

    Q: Painters and designers: Are you about to recommend paint colors for a client?

    Q: How can you make high quality color test samples to help your clients make color decisions?

    You’re a painting professional who has just been asked for the Thousandth time…”how will it look?” Of course you may have even seen the specified color in many other settings over the years—or, perhaps you’ve never seen it yourself in “real life.” Do you have time to test a lot of color swatches for your clients?

    Whether you are doing this yourself or perhaps even suggesting that the homeowner (or other client) do it and let you know what they want to use (and some people will actually want to do this), I’d like to share a few tips that you can recommend, or even use yourself if they are new to you. It’s not “rocket science,” we all know that.

    So, to keep it simple, I recommend starting with the premise that color looks different in all types of lighting and of course throughout the day—and evening—on different surfaces. Color changes in corners, also, as it intensifies where two walls of the same color meet, and it changes in other ways depending on the actual lighting and also when two walls or surfaces (ie: wall and ceiling) of differing colors meet. It’s the angle that does it – whether the typical 90 degrees or something else, as in a vaulted ceiling, and the reflection of light causes the colors to affect each other.

    Therefore, the following apply:
    1. Make the paint test on a moveable and repositionable surface. Something that can be affixed temporarily to any wall, ceiling, or even floor (when you are painting a floor).

    Note: do not use your blue tape on the edges of this! Tape the back side only.

    2. Make the colored surfaces in proportion to each other, for example: Trim colors will usually be narrower than the wall color surfaces.

    3. Be sure the surface you paint the test on is primed, or at least under-painted with a color similar to what you’re testing. For example, you can of course use poster board but since it’s paper, it must be oil-primed so it does not warp. Personally I like the flat-finish, fast drying low odor products for this.

    Note: I’ve typically prepared up to 20 or so poster boards with this type of oil primer, to have ready to go in advance–and easy to use at a moment’s notice–when preparing color tests for clients.

    4. Roll on 2 coats of your finish (test) color, making the application as close to what you intend to do on the final surface. Use a roller with similar pile to what you plan to use on the job.

    5. Use a stable surface with a texture similar to the wall or surface to be painted. IF the target surface is textured, it’s worth it to make a replica since color reacts so differently with the light falling on textured or smooth surfaces.

    6. Be sure to do the test with the same finish you’ll be using on the actual surface (Flat? Eggshell? Semi-or-high-gloss?)

    7. Label your sample cards and cut a nice, smooth-edged one about 8”x8” to leave with the client for their own ‘shopping’ purposes. I find that people appreciate this especially when they are looking at window treatments and furnishings.

    8. OK, so what about materials? I mentioned using wood, (smooth and primed, of course), poster board and foam core (oil prime first), and you can use other substrates like gator board, or drywall (also prime).

    9. But there is also a really easy solution, one that I personally really like to use and always recommend to my clients who want to do the testing themselves: Small Wall. It’s a great surface, prepared for paint (aka No Priming Needed), a 1’x1’ size (2 in a pack), has a re-positionable adhesive strip on on the back, and can be reused, re-painted. You can even cut it with a solid paper cutter, to make smaller pieces, and hole-punch if that’s how you keep color records. I think they also sell contractor packs of 50, which makes it a very easy process. (check out www.mysmallwall for info)

    Interior or exterior, the same process applies. For exterior work you might want to have some siding pieces available that are at least very similar to the client’s house if not the exact same thing. Doing more than just one strip (minimum 4 to 6 strips high, of clapboard style) will give a more accurate view of what the shadows will do at various times of day. Remember to make trim samples also, in the same widths as the actual trim and casings or other details.

    So, you might ask, why go to all this trouble, anyway? The main reason is: Minimize confusion, make the color choices easy, and be professional. Stripes and color patches on the walls look messy and are visually confusing. You can’t see the specified colors next to each other on a large enough surface because there is just too much going on and the existing colors will inform the appearance of the tested colors.

    To illustrate
    1.How to block other colors – hang a white sheet, use white paper, or paint white primer background.
    Paint test article 1 step in the right direction

    This is a start but there are still too many colors in one area and you can’t move them around the room at all.

    Note: using a roller is best, to get the most solid coverage (Yes, 2 coats) and no streaks. The point is to replicate the actual color appearance of the final surface.

    2. Patches are confusing – use one color at a time. This is a useless waste of time, money and emotion. Let’s hope it’s just done for the sake of this picture and not to actually suggest testing colors like this!
    Paint test article 2-chaos

    3. Place your reviewed color in corners, next to walls, next to ceiling if possible, next to floor or baseboards, next to doorway to see adjacent rooms with the proposed new color you’re reviewing. In this example they are using a large test area and have applied the color in adjacent walls meeting in a corner, but then it’s complicated by using the swatches of other colors, even if they are variations on a theme.
    Paint test article 3-browns

    4. This is another ineffective test, using colors that are too close together, not painted solidly so they look streaky, and not masked from the background. It’s hard to tell what the new colors actually are!
    Paint test article 4

    4-a: Mask the wall with white, make a large, rolled paint sample. Doing this on a separate card or large poster board will give you an idea of the actual color. Can you tell which one this is, from picture 4?
    Paint test article 4a-WhiteMask with RIGHT side test-more bluegray

    4-b: Same process as 4-a. Which of the two “tested” colors is this one?
    Paint test article 4-4b_white mask with LEFT side test - more green

    There is one more thing you can offer, that some painters have even used as their palette application guidelines. That is to order a digital rendition of what the house will look like (exterior) with the various colors on the different parts of the house. That’s a great way to show a couple of color options in an overall visual. But that’s another story! 


     


  • Tips and Views on the meaning of cost–and the cost of color.

    From remodeling your home to mowing your lawn…What is often at the top of a list of hesitations?
    “Price” or “Cost” often includes much more than an exchange of money.

    Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, that it can be the cost of professional services.

    What does this have to do with remodeling, color, and design?
    As with most discussions there are various ways to look at the subject. Ultimately, the question would be “processed-focused” or “outcome-focused.

    Looking at “Cost vs. Pleasure”
    Cost
    Cost is outlay of cash
    Cost is the level of perceived value
    Cost is “Doing it yourself”

    • Time to do the project
    • The “learning curve,”  if it’s something you have not done before
    • Quality of the outcome, value over time

    More cost also often happens if you do not engage a qualified professional.

    take a bath

    You can even take a bath in your DIY bath house!

    Pleasure
    Pleasure of spending money? If you have the resources this can be unimportant or even pleasurable. But pleasure thrives in the value of creating or producing something yourself, the Satisfaction of “Doing it yourself”

    • Enjoying making Time to do the project
    • Enjoying your Achievements in mastering new challenges
    • Appreciating the outcome has value over time
    • In some cases your results don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be valuable

    Pleasure in having engaged a trusted, qualified professional, is a form of “passive participation.”

    An “outcome-focused” view depends on your goals
    What is your biggest obstacle, for either or both of these positions?

    a) as a provider of professional services
    b) if you are considering hiring professional help

    It’s an important subject from either side and I hope you will share your thoughts and experiences.

    For me, one pleasure that’s worth the cost: getting the windows of my house cleaned…Professionally!


  • “Creative” and “Personal” – a Few Short Tips about Paint Finishes

    Think “Creative and Personal” with these short tips about paint finishes.
    Without a lot of discussion, I wanted to present a few concise tips to consider when you’re selecting interior paint colors for your home. Typically, we have three choices for paint finishes (some companies have one or two in between them): Flat, Eggshell, SemiGloss, and High Gloss.

    Deep Color Effects

    Traditional Family Room by Cambridge Architects & Building Designers LDa Architecture & Interiors
    H
    ere’s a good place to use a flat finish for velvet elegance but just be wary of burnishing. Best used in a space that does not have a lot of activity connected to walls!

    A special note about using those fabulous deep, rich colors that you want to appear “velvet-y” is that there is the Plus and the Minus:
    Plus: Flat finish (in any color) masks many types of surface defects, better than any other sheen.
    Minus: The thing to remember when using deeper colors in a flat finish, in any brand of paint, is that the very, very deep colors can ‘burnish’ when you brush against the surface. This means that if your elbow, for example, happens to rub against the painted surface it might make a mark that looks shiny in some lights. On the other hand, a flat finish requires less perfect walls since, being non-reflective, the imperfections are to a degree masked.

    Traditional Living Room by San Francisco General Contractors Cardea Building Co.
    An interesting treatment in which the beams are wall surface—as they should be!

    A few ideas about trim colors

    • Don’t feel obligated to paint all the trim in a room the same color.
    • Think about the purpose of the trim: to accent a particular architectural element, frame a space, or create unity.
    • Painting the trim the same color as your walls, but in a different finish, is a subtle way to add the illusion of a different color (SemiGloss or High Gloss is brighter than the same color in flat, for example)
    • Painting crown moldings the same color as your ceiling, in a different finish, frames the ceiling and defines the space in a subtle way.
    • Painting the crown moldings the same color as your walls adds height.
    • Window trim in the same color as walls opens the space by bringing your focus to the outside.
    • Using a very dark, contrasting trim color in a higher sheen can be a meaningful design accent.


    Contemporary Dining Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Cheryl Burke Interior Design
    T
    his trim is not super dark but it does stand out beautifully.

    A Non-Color Tip
    Be sure to use the right type of roller for the job. Deep texture surface of course needs a thicker roller; new, smooth surfaces can use a very short-nap roller. But in addition to fiber depth there are a number of different fiber combinations that are best for using with different materials.

    This should apply to any paint brand, from the most prosaic to full spectrum paints like EcoHues.


  • What’s Neutral, anyway? Try these tips.

    What is “Neutral,” anyway?
    A multi-use color that is complementary in many settings. Many colors can be made serve this purpose. They don’t have to be taupe, beige, or gray. Depending on the look you want, even vivid or highly contrasting colors will make a harmonious statement.

    The key is balance. Warm, cool, light, dark, saturated, pale…you have an entire spectrum to choose from.

    What to look for in a ‘mutable neutral?’  That will be a color that functions as a neutral but actually looks very color-rich.  One way to discern the colors that will be most flexible in your surroundings is to look for colors that will create the most comfortable background. Colors that are more “complex,” having multiple tints in their paint mix formula, typically fit this requirement.Using Full Spectrum Paints is one sure way to gain this effect.

    Full Spectrum Neutrals

    A few neutrals that are full spectrum colors: no black or gray in the mix!

    Have you heard the terms “Clear” colors; or, “Dirty” palette, and wondered what that means?
    Simply put, “dirty” is not a negative word! In the world of color it refers to a more grayed, complex combination of hues that look ‘toned down.’
    “Clear” colors are usually more crisp, bright, even sometimes brilliant.

    paint fandeck
    Colors that work as “neutral” can be of either type; their function is typically to provide a unifying background, to “neutralize” potential discord created by excessive contrast or pattern. In creating comfortable living spaces, the goal is to have a dynamic balance between neutral and accent. This is possible even in a more “tonal” environment where colors are within a particular color family or range of brightness, as in ‘tones or shades’ of a certain

    type of color. Usually this means something in an earthy palette but technically “tonal” can mean any relatively monochromatic palette.

    EcoHues Fieldstone-and-Pewter

    Neutrals in various hues.

    Introducing textures can provide the dynamic interest and prevent monotony where a more ‘tonal’ palette is preferred.

    With the current trend for using one color–even a white or gray–through the home, you can still keep it interesting with finishes; for example, flat on the wall and ceiling and the same color in a semigloss or even gloss finish on the trim.

    So, think big in the sense of looking at your space from a wide view. It’s not just about deciding what color to paint a wall to be “neutral.” Look at the elements of harmony for a dynamically neutral result.

     


  • About color or not, open your mind to open your eyes

    Are you perhaps one of the many individuals who is “stuck?” That could mean stuck in a pattern of thinking, behavior, reacting and responding…the list is endless.

    I was thinking about this recently and it even applies to color selections. With so many colors to choose from, whether for interior colors, exterior colors, or just new materials, it’s too easy to just revert to what’s comfortable, what we’re used to, and what we know “looks good.”

    On the other hand, there is a lot of stimulation available through examples, options, and advice both valid and incorrect, that can either help focus and crystallize a decision, or can just create more confusion.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    How I personally approach breaking out of a pattern—whether in daily life in general or in my color consulting life, in particular—is pretty simple. A couple things to share at this time:

    1. Get out of the house/office/studio and just take a quick walk. Not a new tip at all…but I like to pick a subject to focus on or observe each time. Something mundane, like Trees, Sidewalk cracks, Smells…you get the idea.
    2. Read a different type of book by a new author, it changes the perspective.
    3. Play a musical instrument from time to time: either an old friend-familiar one, using a different musical style, or something completely different. For example: this summer I went to Fiddle Camp with my son and grandson. That was a new experience – as a classically trained violinist it was a big switch and a great experience! A way to see and hear things anew.

    “Breaking out of the box of off-white” is really just a metaphor for doing something different. Start large, start small, it does not matter. Just Start.

    Enjoy the process; please share your own methods, and let us know how you evolve!

    RE Cert-Vertical-OUTSIDE-DESIGNCONSULT

  • What more is there to say about color?

    So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post here. “Been So Busy…” is what people often say. I guess it’s true that I have ‘been busy.’ But here’s the thing. So much to think about color, so much to say, so little time, and so forth.

    I just decided to Ask! What would you like to hear about?
    It could be one of these topics but feel free to add your own requests!

    • Interior color ideas?
    • Exterior color ideas?
    • Paint or other materials?
    • Color Theory?
    • Client questions?
    • Full Spectrum Paint color questions?
    • Coordinating paint and furnishings?
    • What is supportive color?
    • Applied color psychology?
      …and more?

    My own list of potential posts is much longer than that of course, but sometimes it’s also good to ask for suggestions.

    Let me know, and let’s share some color stories and tips.

    New England Peaches

    Yes, it’s a bowl of peaches!

    Just the image to inspire a dramatic “Fall” palette for interior and exterior house colors.
    Take your pick, and make the most of how you use them.
    Warning: A little bit goes a long way!

    Meanwhile, enjoy the end of Summer. I know I will.


  • What’s here to stay, and here to change? Color Trends. Period.

    Color trends? Here, to stay… and here, to change.
    It’s that time again, Color Trends are all over the place! Most recently, Pantone reports “Emerald Green” as the latest thing. Green is what I call an “available” color, since because it’s right in the middle of the light-wave spectrum it’s a color most comfortably viewed in many instances. It’s mutable and earthy; inspiring of new life, growth, and positive direction. As a paint color, “green” can be flexible in interiors and can be used in many settings.

    Pantone ENERGIZE greens

    The Pantone “Energize” green palette

    Small World, Indeed
    While I don’t have an “emerald green” in the palette, I’ve been delighted to see that many of my own EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint colors  seem to have aligned with some trend colors over the past year. These are from Pantone:

    What’s my own personal opinion?
    While I don’t really have one personal favorite color, I do have a definite point of view. As an architectural color consultant, paint palette designer and rug designer, my viewpoint is threefold.

    First
    My own primary, professional focus as a color consultant is a strong belief in supportive color design. Foremost is function, coupled with aesthetics and, in the homes of individual clients, personal color preferences naturally have a role as well.

    Where function is concerned, color trends are interesting—and of course they are an indicator of products we’ll be seeing going forward. However using a ‘trendy’ color as a selection simply because it’s “hot” or popular does not serve either my client or myself as the consultant. I always take note of trends but no decision or recommendation I’d ever make is trend-driven.

    Second
    As a paint palette designer, I’ve created the EcoHues line of Full Spectrum Paints as a 32-color curated palette that serves a variety of purposes. Because each of our colors has no black or gray—even in our muted ‘neutrals’ or most highly saturated colors—they are easy to decorate with. So, many “trend” colors can create interesting harmonies with these richly-colored full spectrum paints as part of a design plan.

    In creating the palette style and the actual colors, I’ve been influenced by client requests in both commercial and residential settings.  That request is usually in the form of an expressed feeling. The client desires a particular kind of experience.  A typical kind of request is, for example, “I want a relaxing space, a happy, energizing space, and also something that will complement my furnishings.” So, with that as the impetus, the EcoHues palette includes pale to deep stony neutrals; underwater blues; luminous, ethereal sun-filled yellows; antique-flavored greens; bright blues, and richly warm reds and browns evoking exotic sources.

    How do these fit into upcoming trends?
    While I agree with others that we’re influenced by the economy and world events, what I see as important in general is something that’s been happening for a while now:  a resurgence in health and well-being beyond today’s blood pressure. Certainly, the deeper aspect of the experiences that we all desire in our color environments is well beyond the transitory nature of “what’s hot” right now or even for the near future.

    A quick color trend note
    In the world of color and design—in what appeals to us at the deepest level and that will endure well past this year’s colors—is a reference to organic plant and earth sources, natural materials, and textures. As the world becomes culturally smaller and smaller, international flavors will continue in an ongoing appreciation of solid, earthy tones and textures; warm, natural pigment-inspired colors like rusty oranges, paprika and cinnabar reds; brighter, rich hues like Hydrangea and Phoenix Blue, and the deep tones of Mulberry, Nomad and plum.

    More EcoHues colors are represented here, too

    Cultural blending has, in fact, been well underway for some time and will continue to evolve into new and exciting preferences in color combinations and styles. And, in any space or product, surface sheen and texture are important and often dictate a color’s appearance and therefore contribute to our color preferences and uses.

    Third: Home decor follows fashion
    As a rug designer, I incorporate color from an instinctive perspective, starting with what feels right to me from the artistic standpoint. That said, I can of course change colors in any way to suit individuals’ requests. It surprises me sometimes that many of the colors I initially use in my rug designs do show up in a future trend forecast. That is always interesting, and just demonstrates once again that color is universal—and cyclical.

    Pantone "Heritage" palette

    Pantone’s new greens in the Heritage palette can be flexible.

    My basic belief doesn’t just “belong” to me.
    It’s much broader than any individual, and does not depend on color trends at all.
    As humans—without regard to “trends”—we all crave color in myriad varieties of light and bright, muted yet clean, and deep, rich, and dark. It’s all about proportion, balance, and use. I see color trends as something interesting and cyclical, worth observing, with variations in each re-occurrence of a particular color.

    Are you Into Color Trends for your own home, or your business, or just for fun? Visit these places for more inspiration:

    Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paints
    Kate Smith, of Sensational Color
    Color Marketing Group: Where Trends are Defined
    Pantone: a great resource for color information and products

    Change is dynamic. That’s the fascination that keeps us coming back for more! What’s Your “take” on the trends?


  • A Maslow-Inspired Thanksgiving Color Palette

    What are the colors of Thanksgiving?
    So much more than paint, decorating, or  “trend palettes.”
    I wanted to offer some color-reflections for the holiday season, and beyond.

    Maslow's Hierarchy - reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    What’s important?
    Please share your own inspirations and color-reflections!


  • Asking the right questions

    How to listen: Take a tip from Joseph Albers
    Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”

    Among the many “what’s the first step” items in the process of a new client-relationship, asking the right questions is at the top of my list.

    Of course this also goes for any project, even with people we think we know, since each project carries its own set of circumstances. That’s why I love the above statement by Josef Albers.

    Warming up with Red Clay from EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint

    While creatively problem-solving, opportunities to learn—and to teach—abound in every project

    • Help clients discover their own personal design styles
    • Introduce new concepts and ideas
    • Interact with clients in an authentic way
    EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint - Atlantis and Blue Grotto

    “Atlantis,” an EcoHues Full Spectrum color, is on the back wall of dining area and continues into the foyer that is visible from the dining room.

     

    Soft full spectrum colors, kitchen view into family room

    Rich soft colors enhance—and subtly define—three connected spaces, with 3 different close colors.

    One example, from a client’s note to me
    “…you helped take the confusion out of color selection process and opened up our eyes to color choices we never would have thought of using.  We appreciated how easy it was to work with you, and how carefully you listened to our wants and needs.”

    It just takes practice!
    As artists and designers, it’s so easy to become excited about a project and about our own approach and inspirations. The practice is in listening, and advising while not imposing our personal preferences. It’s really all about the goal for every client.

    I’d love to listen. What is your story?


  • Seeing it Anew, for a New Full Spectrum Experience

    Have you ever heard someone say “I can’t believe I never noticed that before?”
    Have you ever said it yourself?

    How many times do we have to see something before we really notice it?
    “IT” could be just about anything, actually, and once you start to think about “IT,” the  list just grows.
    For example:

    • Special People: recognizing, appreciating, not taking them for granted
    • Disorder: Walk into a room you have not been in for a while and see it with new eyes open
    • Color: combinations of color and new ways of seeing what’s familiar
    • Ideas: open your mind, open your heart!
    • And then of course what can follow is “open heart, open mind!”

    What are your recent Openers that you want to share here? Just leave your comment to this post.

    Often we’re simply ‘stuck’ in the place we are. Emotionally, physically, and environmentally—from the perspective of trying to make even a small change. Color and even simple design changes can help to create a full-spectrum life.

    Sometimes an outside view is just what’s needed to reflect and have a new experience.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    If  you want help seeing—and experiencing—your own environment with a new view, just let me know.
    Helping people get ‘un-stuck,’ and evolve through their color and design dilemmas, is my specialty.

    Check out colorful Gift Certificates fo provide a full-spectrum experience for yourself, your family, and friends.


  • Bio-What? Add Nature to your Life and Feel Better Now

    Biophilia.*

    It’s not quite a “household word” yet, but is definitely becoming a regularly accepted fact: including as many references to “nature” as possible—in any kind of space—leads to more healthy living and working environments. How this plays out in a very real, practical way is documented in some very interesting articles.  You might say, it’s  even a matter of common sense—and dollars.

    We humans need to be connected to nature.
    We hear this so much that it borders on sounding trite. But it’s an innate aspect of our biological makeup—we’re “hard-wired” with this need, and it’s a good one. The very real, physical concept of Biophilia brings it into a larger scale of relevance; architectural projects ranging from a variety of workplaces, manufacturing, offices, and especially health care, can reap the largest-scale benefits—from improving their financial conditions to creating more socially healthy civic communities, in general.

    According to a fascinating short article I recently read, * ‘Biophilic Design Could Save Millions of Dollars,’ including more vegetation in cities would visibly reduce crime rates “7 percent,” and subsequently save tremendous amounts of money “in incarceration costs from violent and property crimes.”

    At this point you might be saying…Ok, that’s interesting but “What About Me? What can I do in my own home go introduce a more nature-relevant quality?”

    beach view

    How would you use this image as inspiration for creating your own nature-based color palette?


    Even on a smaller, personal scale

    there’s a huge benefit to creating associations to nature. Whether you have a small rented apartment, or a condo or home of any size that you own, you can really make a difference in the lives of yourself and family members.

    So, on to a few quick comments about using color in your home or workplace, to help introduce some more natural qualities in addition to the houseplants you might already have, and your garden (which are a great start, by the way). We’re back to often-discussed topics included in what I often talk about: Supportive Color Design.

    • Lighting: incorporate as much natural lighting as possible. Be sure to test your paint colors in all available lighting condition in your setting.
    • Color: Specifically the benefits of using Full Spectrum Paint: Eliminate black and gray from your walls. Full spectrum paints using a minimum of 7 tints in each color will get you the closest to the colors of sunlight–at least as close as you can get considering it’s paint.
    • Shapes: Beyond the typical room shapes, look at shapes in nature and see how you can bring those elements into your own home.
    • Space design: Creating a comfortable and supportive interior environment: arrange your furniture and other decorative items in an orderly and balanced way for maximum comfort, taking into consideration their sizes, shapes, and placement in the space.

    From the original article titled “The Economics of Biophilia” prepared by the environmental consulting and strategic planning firm, Terrapin Bright Green,  is this statement by E.O. Wilson, the person who defined Biophilia:

    Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything  else humanity is ever likely to encounter.” – E.O. Wilson, 1984

    Image courtesy of FIGUURA, from the Terrapin Bright Green article.

    How do contemporary designers incorporate Biophilia in their own work? In ways not specifically “interior design” but even in specific products used in interiors. Wall coverings, office cubicle textiles, and the drapes in hospital patients’ rooms are just a few. Textile designer Laura Deubler Mercurio, whose work is shown in the image below, is a long-time colleague of mine through the IACC (International Association of Color Consultants). She is completely involved in Biophilic and fractal design, creating exciting, beautiful and thoughtful designs for woven textiles, that are used in the three types of locations I just mentioned.

    fabric design by Laura Deuble-Mercurio

    Fractal studies have inspired Laura Deubler-Mercurio to design fabrics for hospital use.
    Her textile designs are based on our senses relating to fractal divisions in nature.

    Personally, I’d heard about Biophilia many years ago, and since then that awareness has had a significant connection to my own approach to Supportive Color Design, that applies to interior or exterior color design. Thanks to Eco-Structure.com, a publication of the AIA, for bringing this in-depth article to my attention.

    What you’re reading in this post is intended to encourage you to read the entire, original article that you can download from the Terrapin Bright Green web site.


  • ICFF 2012: Something multicolored, something blue, and many things new.

    It’s not borrowed. It’s multicolored, and it’s sometimes blue.

    Not talking about “June weddings.” In this case, it’s the ICFF show (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). A great place to see international contemporary culture expressed in design. Sometimes reflective of something old, and in many cases something new, and always interesting.

    In any case, I always find this show enjoyable on many levels. Seeing many of the latest new products, color trends and design trends from international designers, and talking with some of them in person, is an experience I find fun and inspiring.

    LIghting at ICFF

    Hand blown glass fixtures - glowing frosty finish

    So, to share just a few of the items that piqued my interest for a number of reasons…
    I enjoyed a brief conversation with Jamie Harris, the artist who created these beautiful hand blown glass light fixtures

    ICFF light

    Hand blown glass fixtures - metallic shimmer

    ICFF lighting

    Sheer color in gorgeous hand blown lighting

     

    Still on the subject of light, check out these amazing solid acrylic tubes. Colors infuse the entire material throughout, and the colors change as you move around the piece according to viewing angles. Even the edges are luminously multicolored

    LED acrlic solid tube

    Walk around and see how the color changes. View 1 of 4

    .ICFF lights

    View 2
    ICFF lighting
    View 3
    ICFF lighting

    View 4

    Imagine the setting for these beautifully sculptural light fixtures.

    Moving along to see some furniture, something I always enjoy.

    glowing furniture

    Fantasy cabinets - one of a few from Boca Do Lobo

    drawers
    It’s not just a stack of sample finishes…Each drawer is an individual, functional drawer.
    unique furniture

    The upper section, and the surface shown below, is beaded by indigenous Huichol people in Mexico. From Espacio Sami Hayek. How do you like the wood?

    Note: the picture on their web site is Not of their ICFF booth…at least not the one I saw there.

    furniture

    Closeup of the artistic detail on this credenza by the same company, Espacio Sami Hayek.

    display booth

    Closeup of a metal wall of a display "booth"

    japanese tetilres

    Something Blue! So very beautiful, and "Wabi-Sabi." Amazing textiles from Kyoto Rakushian

    closeup japanese textiles

    I could not resist sharing a closer view.

    And last, but not least, for now…

    funky furnituire

    Just so we don't get too serious..simple, funky, and having a sense of humor.

    So much to see and enjoy in one day, these are just a few of my favorites.

    Do you have a favorite? If so, which piece–and where would you use it?


  • Color Q & A: Use Deep Color and be Happy

    A question I received recently about using deep color prompted me to share this topic with you. First of all, I’d like to state that Yes, you can be “Happy” using deep colors.

    Q: We recently moved…
    into a new contemporary high-rise home , and ditched all the British colonial/country French stuff. We’re still living with builder’s paint and are getting eager to make a change. We’d like to try something new (maybe charcoal!) but afraid it will end up a somber cave instead of elegant and crisp.

    A: The question of using deep colors…
    always comes with the concern “Won’t it make the space feel small?”  Since there is not one simple answer to this, I wanted to briefly touch on a few ideas about the subject. You might call it “advice on psychology of painting darker colors”—but that has such a formidable sound, I’d rather call it “some tips about using deep colors.”

    Psychological color associations are so interesting. “Darker colors” often are described as serious, depressing, sad, formidable (see above comment), and other similar mood-and-feeling descriptions. The flip side of the description might be “sophisticated, intimate, cozy, meditative, exotic, solid…” and so forth. In other words, there are many ways to look at how we describe and feel about color!

    But psychological associations aside, we have the physical attributes of the space (lighting, room size, wall shapes, ceiling height, floor color and material) and the question of function (what you want to do there)   are all part of the picture and process of choosing the best colors for your needs.

    A few ideas on making a space elegant and crisp using deep colors

    • Deep on the walls and ceiling, bright contrast on the trim.
    • Select brightly colored accessories
    • Use texture and light
    • Use the deep colors of walls as a dramatic background for artwork or collections
    • Use a deep color on an accent wall to extend the view in the room and expand the space.

    EcoHues-FieldPewter
    Deep, earthy EcoHues Full Spectrum – Fieldstone in a very small bedroom, opens to EcoHues Full Spectrum – Pewter on walls and ceiling in the adjacent powder room. Cabinets and lower walls are EcoHues Full Spectrum – Char-Plum Gray.

    deep color bright accent
    Closeup of cabinet in above picture: EcoHues Full Spectrum – CharPlum Gray. Brightly colored glass knobs make the deep color stand out and look even richer.

    Deep Chocolate accent wall in Kitchen Gallery
    Deep color on the walls of this kitchen “gallery” is Chocolate, from Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum paints.

     

    EcoHues-Atlantis
    Deep color again, this one is EcoHues Full Spectrum – Atlantis. Note the wall color is also used on the ceiling in the alcove portion of this space.(below)
    alcove in entry

    Below: Deep on the trim, with contrast color on walls and ceiling (in this case, the ceiling is a soft tinted white)

    . dark trim lighter walls

    Walls are Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum – Mustard Seed. Trim is Benjamin Moore HC-67.

    Do have an experience using deeper colors that you would like to share?

    My goal is to help create the best possible spaces with colors that help you enjoy your life and accomplish what you dream of doing. Let me help you “Get outside the box of off-white with colors for your vibrant life.


  • Linen-weave texture: made a mistake but now corrected

    Silly mistakes will happen. Most recently here: posting something by mistake, then deleting it to try to correct the error, then deciding to re-post.

    This recent post was brought to my attention today by a friendly reader who wrote me an email that the page was no longer available.

    What’s good about that? Now I can make it better.

    What happened?
    I’d posted an image of a decorative finish, a project in which I’d painted a linen-weave strie design in two colors, two layers. The problem was that I’d not included any info on the picture!

    This can be a lovely way to create a hand-painted wall covering, using colors to create depth and interest.

    How you do it
    First layer, apply glaze evenly, blend, then drag vertically with a wallpaper brush. When it’s dry, do the second layer: the same process, different color, drag horizontally.

    Tip
    Tape off vertical sections and work in alternating areas. You will actually save some time because you can use a faster-drying glaze. By the time you work your way around the room you may be able to go back and do the 2nd layer. Granted, this may not work for all sizes and shapes of rooms but it is one way to do this process.

    What’s your experience?
    Have you made tech-errors that were embarrassing? On the other subject, have you tried DIY-decorative finishes that did not work out?


  • Before you shop for a rug, consider this very important issue.

    An area rug can be many things in your decor, and making the decision about which rug to choose from the literally thousands available (and as you know, that’s an understatement) can, in that way, be an experience that resembles selecting paint.

    In choosing an area rug, your main considerations might be your use for the rug, and your budget. Other issues besides cost, color, and design, will include longevity. For some details in a brief “rug primer,” this article in the recent Fabulous Floors Blog will give you some tips to take note of, even before you start to shop for a rug.

    A big part of what’s important in rug selection, however, is the issue of who actually made the rug.  Adults? Slave-labor children? Goodweave.org is making great strides in eliminating child labor in the rug industry; rescuing children from the labor market and providing education and a chance at a higher quality of life. This video is one of three from GoodWeave that addresses that subject.  If it’s something you have never thought about, you may be surprised—so please take a look. Each GoodWeave member pays a portion of your purchase price of a GoodWeave certified rug toward this goal.

    At least, paint does not carry those considerations.  While some of the main issues with paint are comparable: What you need and where you will use it; budget; VOCs and personal health concerns; durability; ease of touch-up; and of course your color choices, that include colors that have black in them, or true Full Spectrum colors with no black and a minimum of seven tints in each!

    But, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed—about either rugs, or paint.

    For a rug, be sure to go to a dealer that carries rugs from GoodWeave suppliers. Each GoodWeave certified rug will have a numbered label. For your dilemmas about paint selections, I am here to help.


Color Geography – the anatomy of a long-distance consult project

Integral ColorViews Blog

Color—as a subject for discussion and also as an experience— is fun, exhilarating, fanciful, practical, and always interesting. Color use also has serious aspects. As a colorist, I look forward to sharing a wide range of tips, books, and color-and-design related subjects with you. You're invited to share your own color inspirations!

  • More Palettes – the Many Moods of Summer

    Here it is, only the end of July and yet it almost feels like “Summer” is over. Why is that? Time passes so quickly? Maybe it’s because we’re already seeing Fall fashions.

    But wait, there’s more!’ (ok where have we heard that before?) It is still happening and in a typically glorious way, too.  So, not really after the fact—but rather in reflecting on recent memory both mental and visual—I wanted to present a few color palette ideas based on natural surroundings and a few other things, too. After all, the “Many Moods of Summer” includes a lot! It’s not all sailing, sunny, and roses…we have some moody and darkly mysterious moments also. That’s what adds the dimensional quality, it seems to me. So whether it’s for paint colors interior or exterior,  your home or your workplace, fashion, or just another view of the world, new color  palettes can offer new inspiration.

    Obviously, like many of you I enjoy being inspired by color combinations that occur in nature. After all, that’s where it begins. There is of course the related risk of being redundant, or looking like a ‘copier.’ Yet, that’s not really been a problem for me. I just am inspired by and where inspiration strikes and, while I find it interesting to see what else is ‘out there,’ I’m  not really directed by the colors that others present.

     

    Fresh warmth of yellow roses

    Wake up to the sunny, fresh energy of yellows.

    The perfect range of yellows in golden roses, golden glow.

     

    Striated roses.

    Is this just a local type of rose? I have no idea! But they’re beautiful.

    I’ve never seen these before they popped up in our front yard! They elicit a smile every day.What a pleasure.

    Another viewpoint of rose-inspired colors.

    Another aspect of colors related to the same flowers.

    Same flowers, different interpretation.

     

    Multihued roses

    Translucent, multicolored petals spike the imagination.

    Looking past the most obvious view, the juicy-looking underside of another multicolored rose feels like sunset hues.

    A different view of the same rose

    Yet, such a different view from the top

    View from above, the same brilliant flower!

     

    Look past the subject, include the cool accents.

    Cool accents included

    Balance is key. As with many things, looking past the obvious adds dimension. In this case, it’s adding a little coolness from the surroundings.

    Speaking of dimension and balance, a trip one day to Point Reyes offered this surprise, moody inspiration.

    Peaceful color in Point Reyes

    A softly misty morning has a peaceful quality.

    And night skies provide a different kind of dramatic palette.

    Night time view on the road.

    Dramatic night skies

     

    Beautiful Bark.

    What is this? Bark on a tree. That is…Under the bark, the tree.

    A more “neutral” style of palette is inspired here by the swirling growth patterns of the tree and it’s amazing colors and shapes.

     

    Historic design.

    Antique stencilled wood.

    Pieces of antique wood taken from a historic building. Beautiful stencilled patterns and a lovely color combination that could create a mood that’s festive or calm. In person, of course, it’s even more impressive.

    Back to a favorite place for long walks, this is a peaceful location. The view is from a bridge.

    View from a bridge

    View of this waterway taken from a bridge.

    Similar, but each visit is a unique experience with something different to focus on. How can you not be inspired?

    A different experience

    Every visit to this area provides a different experience.

    Another tree, another world, a completely different look. But that’s no surprise, just inspiring.

    Tree bark

    More Bark!

    Back to the playground!

    Playground structure

    Fun in the Sun at the playground. A very straightforward palette just feels like playing outdoors.

    So, with my usual caveat to not use these color selections as rules, or dictates, or even to recommend using them as you seem them together here, I hope you enjoy the combinations.

    And as always, I invite your comments.


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  • How to choose the right colors! OR: is there a simple way to choose the right colors?

    That’s the question, and it applies to both interiors and exteriors of homes and other buildings.

    What’s the answer?
    I remember reading and enjoying an article in the New York Times from a while ago by one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors, Lee Child, a master in creating compelling characters and situations with a very particular flavor in the “action” genre. If you’re looking for entertaining, fast-paced reading his work is a lot of fun to read.

    His article, “A Simple Way to Create Suspense” is essentially about his own process in creating suspense in his writing.

    How can that idea possibly translate to selecting the best colors for our homes or workplaces?
    Ask yourself the right questions! Since just about every question you can ask about color will have some kind of answer—and ideally help direct you to a useful solution—try starting with these:

    * Where is the place?
    * Is your subject the interior or the exterior?
    * What do you, or others using the space, want to do there?
    * Do you have specific goals, or is the need a more general one?

    But naturally there are some guidelines that will help direct you to the best combinations of colors for your purposes. Qualities of space and use like wall size, texture, lighting (natural and artificial), and surroundings in general are some of the considerations.

    Begin each project by defining a sense of purpose and goal, which is where the questions and the guidelines come in. a client’s personal preferences play a role as well but typically are just part of the picture.  Color trends, while interesting, often inspiring, and fun to follow, really have little to do with arriving at the most effective and supportive color palettes for a specific building or space.

    Colorful Tree House

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The excitement and “suspense” is in the process and the evolution of results; testing accent colors, for example, will lead you to transform a simple, earthy color into an interesting environment. Using colors that are just a little too bright can make a space uncomfortable and stressful instead of  enjoyable and nourishing.  A one-inch color chip is never a reliable indication of a whole room or even one wall!

    Back to the Suspense, in case you want to read the article also!

    So, a few tips
    * Overestimate the impact: Use your favorite super-bright colors as accents in furnishings, accessories, or smaller wall surfaces
    * Textured wall and ceilings tend to “absorb” more color, while smoother surfaces reflect more color.
    * Lighting will affect your results, whether inside or outside. So be sure to see what colors look like in different times of day and evening.|
    * Use less vivid colors for your larger surfaces
    * Consider using the same color on walls and ceilings to minimize distraction, especially in smaller spaces.
    * Remember that your floors are large surface areas so consider floor color, including carpeting, when you’re thinking of wall colors.
    * Exterior: considering the roofing color (I’ll explore this specific subject later in a separate article)
    * Balancing warm and cool colors, and bright and soft colors, is important to create a comfortable and interesting space.

    One of the most important parts of the process is Testing! Use a roller and be sure to apply two coats over primer to get the most accurate color representation, just as you would do when painting your walls.

    Then, Enjoy the Process!
    Send in your own favorite color combinations to share, with a note about the goal and the use.

     


  • ‘Tis the Season—for Nature-Based Spring Color Palettes!

    We can usually agree that “nature” is the best inspiration for inspired color palettes. But that’s a broad topic! So for purposes of this post about color inspirations, I’ll stick to what is right underfoot, literally.

    It seems that every time I go out for a walk—whether to the beach, a local path, just ‘around town,’ or via a sweeping vista of fields—I love to look around with color palettes in mind. This usually involves being inspired to take some pictures and reflect on relative colors and how they might be used. Or, simply, just open my eyes to the color-view that they land on, and just see the objects and landscapes from an abstract, colorist perspective instead of something more literal.

    Starting with something that has a more far-away focus, the sky and land in a sweeping panorama, these two are not the more pastel kinds of colors we typically think of as “Spring.” Yet, there it is…new growth.

    Translated to simpler colors:

    Large field view

    Clouds and ocean beyond the bands of colorful plants.

     

    Color grasses

    A closer view in a similar color range.

     

    new buds and flowers

    New buds and flowers are a little brighter here.

     

    Beautiful colors and textures.

    What a beautiful, bountiful array of colors and textures in this in-ground bouquet.

     

    Tonal Grasses

    Grasses have their own “tonal excitement.” It’s even better when they move in the breeze. The lightest tips are almost iridescent.

     

    Grasses are colorful.

    A few steps down the path, a different color look entirely. Warm and nurturing, earthy colors offer a sense of security at any time of year. The light ochre and ivory in both these grassy colors can be either main color or accent.

     

    beautiful leaves.

    These delightful little leaves are waiting with open arms for the buds to arrive. The soft blue-green and yellow add a fresh, bright appearance that makes this color group a very liveable one.

     

    Buds to become flowers

    Close up, these little buds almost look like mini-succulents.  The soft pinky-coral of the buds makes the green tones stand out even more. The groups of buds will turn into…

     

    White flowers from buds.

    Creamy color of these almost-white flowers! Note the nearby buds. Deep earthy brown; tonal greens; ivory – together make a lovely palette. Pay attention to your proportions and intensity of colors when you actually apply this color group.

     

    Shocking Pink.

    Amid the lower intensity colors, a shock of beautiful pinks wakes up the morning!

    More color palettes to come!

    A note about color use and modification
     I’m not suggesting that you take these palettes literally or try to apply the colors as entire rooms or even walls. Think of them more as an interesting harmony, that you can use in various proportions and even in deeper, or lighter, or brighter versions of the same colors than are shown here. Take the colors from one group and inject one or two from another one. Granted, that takes a different kind of practice but just give it a shot and see what you can come up with to create the feeling that is portrayed.

    Meanwhile, please feel free to submit your comments and pictures of how you might use or have used these types of colors in your own spaces or client projects. I look forward to hearing from you.


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  • What’s it like to do something really different?

    Over the past year a lot has happened. Moving from Massachusetts, where I lived for a very long time, to California–where I’d lived in the past and “Swore” I’d never live there again! (moral: never say “Never!”)  But here I am, and it is like being on a different planet. And actually a good one! I just got back from sitting in with my fiddle (aka violin), with some local bluegrass players in a weekly “jam”—which is informal, and fortunately for me they are very welcoming and patient.

    But what is also really different? Being willing to take the time to actually DO something really different. Over the past number of months, that has been developing a project that started unintentionally from a spark of inspiration, taking on a life of it’s own as I became more deeply engrossed in its evolution. I’ve always done some kind of artwork, all my life. As long as I can remember, that has been an essential part of life—in many forms over the years—whether painting, sewing, textile painting, furniture and wall painting, print design, rug design, and other media.

    In many ways, working in the field of color consulting—which I’ve been doing since 1986—has been an art expression. But it’s been much more about actually helping others, my clients, tap into, and become more confident in, their own expression with color. I always have loved that part of the work. Now, with an expanded focus on my own art work,  I’m enjoying that experience again but in a very different way.

    Sonoma County view.

    Sonoma County mountains and pasture.

    Most recently, relocating here to Northern California, I started drawing.  It sounds simplistic, but what happened was, for me, remarkable. I found that, with an open and relaxed mind, the images that came out were surprising and actually fascinating. I became spellbound by the process.

    What has developed from that experience is the inspiration to do a book. Actually it’s a coloring book. Now, it’s in the final phases and the whole process is much more involved than I imagined when I started with the notion to do it. In fact, the fascinating thing that has come from working on the book is that, while it is a ‘coloring book’ and as such has a great benefit that is very well known for stress relief, I’ve constructed it in a way that will actually help people develop their own sense of colors and how the colors feel to them that is well beyond simply coloring a picture. I’m looking forward to seeing what evolves with it, and to sharing it with you when it’s ready. I will set up a page on this site for the book, also!

    Sonoma County

    In Sonoma County, a view without boundaries.

    The point about this process, that I’ve started to learn from the current experience, is that just being open to something new—without boundaries—is an exciting experience.  Now, you may be someone for whom this is no surprise and who has always just done anything you’ve wanted to do. But I really believe that many people need to have the little “zing” of inspiration that just does not let go, and the exhilarating experience of the creative surge that comes with a new idea that is actually manifested.  I wish I had an easy recipe for that.

    But it boils down to this: take the time to get out of the usual way of doing things; change up the routine; see things with a new eye, and breathe!

    If you have something to share about embarking on a new experience, doing something really different, please share it in a comment.

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  • Color Geography – the anatomy of a long-distance consult project

    How does geographic location affect color choices?
    Even for long-distance color design projects, considering the lighting and the actual location is a “must.” Imagination is part of it, but also local-area images are important, along with the essential client-provided information.

    This is also where a digital image process can be so helpful. It’s a way to virtually see the building as-if it’s already painted with the new colors, using images the client provides. And it’s those images that offer a way to see what the house or other building looks like in it’s own environment.

    One example, a family’s house in Pennsylvania, a 130-year old Queen Anne Victorian. Being in the Boston area at the time, it was not convenient for me to travel to the client’s location, even though this is always an option for the right circumstances. We started with descriptions, my questionnaire about location, site, and lifestyle, and photos provided by the client.

    Existing colors in Pennsylvania

    “Before” colors: Two views, front and side.

    Mical_BEFORE-sideview - Copy

    The project was a bit complex, since there were a number of structures involved: the house itself, a semi-attached garage and carport, other outbuilding, and a tree house. Many siding a trim styles and materials were also involved. Among them were stone, clapboard, shingles; window and door casings; porch floors, ceilings, and railings; trim details. Also some structural items were part of the picture, like gables and bump-outs.

    Because of the structure, the details and materials, we wanted to create a sense of cohesion in a natural style color palette that was fairly simple throughout. The treehouse was the location to incorporate some bright, more whimsical colors.

    View to carport

    View to carport – Before

    Garage view - before

    Garage view – Before

    Working closely, albeit long-distance, there were many communications and visuals back and forth. Color schemes illustrated with the digital image views were offered and responded to by the clients, and it was very much a collaborative process. We worked our way through a few options, any of which could have worked very well.

    Ultimately, the final palette evolved. Paint plan details and final color images presented and affirmed. The clients reported it was also helpful for their painter, who used the color images as a reference, part of their direction for work.

    New colors in Pennsylvania

    After a few variations…New colors are subtle but make a big difference !

    Side view

    New colors – Side view

    New colors tree house.

    Tree house – back side.

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The clients expressed their experience in this way:
    Engaging your services was priceless and the digital renderings are absolutely worth the investment.  We loved seeing what the house would look like before it was even painted.  Our painter has used the image as his own blueprint for painting the house.  It truly is a must-have, and the end product looks practically just like the digital image.  It certainly put a complete end to the debate over colors that we have had as a couple! (Read more from them, and others, here…) Thanks to the clients for providing photos.

    I’ve enjoyed developing this service and the processes involved. Communication has always been an important element in my life, and this mode is just a development of that aspect. So now that I’m based in California, it’s something I can continue to enjoy offering and doing.


  • Tips for Testing – it’s your most important tool before painting

    Have you ever thought about the tools you need for painting?
    Think of testing your paint selections as the most important ‘tool’ in your bag.

    Tips for Testing

    Q: Are you about to make decisions about paint color?

    Q: Painters and designers: Are you about to recommend paint colors for a client?

    Q: How can you make high quality color test samples to help your clients make color decisions?

    You’re a painting professional who has just been asked for the Thousandth time…”how will it look?” Of course you may have even seen the specified color in many other settings over the years—or, perhaps you’ve never seen it yourself in “real life.” Do you have time to test a lot of color swatches for your clients?

    Whether you are doing this yourself or perhaps even suggesting that the homeowner (or other client) do it and let you know what they want to use (and some people will actually want to do this), I’d like to share a few tips that you can recommend, or even use yourself if they are new to you. It’s not “rocket science,” we all know that.

    So, to keep it simple, I recommend starting with the premise that color looks different in all types of lighting and of course throughout the day—and evening—on different surfaces. Color changes in corners, also, as it intensifies where two walls of the same color meet, and it changes in other ways depending on the actual lighting and also when two walls or surfaces (ie: wall and ceiling) of differing colors meet. It’s the angle that does it – whether the typical 90 degrees or something else, as in a vaulted ceiling, and the reflection of light causes the colors to affect each other.

    Therefore, the following apply:
    1. Make the paint test on a moveable and repositionable surface. Something that can be affixed temporarily to any wall, ceiling, or even floor (when you are painting a floor).

    Note: do not use your blue tape on the edges of this! Tape the back side only.

    2. Make the colored surfaces in proportion to each other, for example: Trim colors will usually be narrower than the wall color surfaces.

    3. Be sure the surface you paint the test on is primed, or at least under-painted with a color similar to what you’re testing. For example, you can of course use poster board but since it’s paper, it must be oil-primed so it does not warp. Personally I like the flat-finish, fast drying low odor products for this.

    Note: I’ve typically prepared up to 20 or so poster boards with this type of oil primer, to have ready to go in advance–and easy to use at a moment’s notice–when preparing color tests for clients.

    4. Roll on 2 coats of your finish (test) color, making the application as close to what you intend to do on the final surface. Use a roller with similar pile to what you plan to use on the job.

    5. Use a stable surface with a texture similar to the wall or surface to be painted. IF the target surface is textured, it’s worth it to make a replica since color reacts so differently with the light falling on textured or smooth surfaces.

    6. Be sure to do the test with the same finish you’ll be using on the actual surface (Flat? Eggshell? Semi-or-high-gloss?)

    7. Label your sample cards and cut a nice, smooth-edged one about 8”x8” to leave with the client for their own ‘shopping’ purposes. I find that people appreciate this especially when they are looking at window treatments and furnishings.

    8. OK, so what about materials? I mentioned using wood, (smooth and primed, of course), poster board and foam core (oil prime first), and you can use other substrates like gator board, or drywall (also prime).

    9. But there is also a really easy solution, one that I personally really like to use and always recommend to my clients who want to do the testing themselves: Small Wall. It’s a great surface, prepared for paint (aka No Priming Needed), a 1’x1’ size (2 in a pack), has a re-positionable adhesive strip on on the back, and can be reused, re-painted. You can even cut it with a solid paper cutter, to make smaller pieces, and hole-punch if that’s how you keep color records. I think they also sell contractor packs of 50, which makes it a very easy process. (check out www.mysmallwall for info)

    Interior or exterior, the same process applies. For exterior work you might want to have some siding pieces available that are at least very similar to the client’s house if not the exact same thing. Doing more than just one strip (minimum 4 to 6 strips high, of clapboard style) will give a more accurate view of what the shadows will do at various times of day. Remember to make trim samples also, in the same widths as the actual trim and casings or other details.

    So, you might ask, why go to all this trouble, anyway? The main reason is: Minimize confusion, make the color choices easy, and be professional. Stripes and color patches on the walls look messy and are visually confusing. You can’t see the specified colors next to each other on a large enough surface because there is just too much going on and the existing colors will inform the appearance of the tested colors.

    To illustrate
    1.How to block other colors – hang a white sheet, use white paper, or paint white primer background.
    Paint test article 1 step in the right direction

    This is a start but there are still too many colors in one area and you can’t move them around the room at all.

    Note: using a roller is best, to get the most solid coverage (Yes, 2 coats) and no streaks. The point is to replicate the actual color appearance of the final surface.

    2. Patches are confusing – use one color at a time. This is a useless waste of time, money and emotion. Let’s hope it’s just done for the sake of this picture and not to actually suggest testing colors like this!
    Paint test article 2-chaos

    3. Place your reviewed color in corners, next to walls, next to ceiling if possible, next to floor or baseboards, next to doorway to see adjacent rooms with the proposed new color you’re reviewing. In this example they are using a large test area and have applied the color in adjacent walls meeting in a corner, but then it’s complicated by using the swatches of other colors, even if they are variations on a theme.
    Paint test article 3-browns

    4. This is another ineffective test, using colors that are too close together, not painted solidly so they look streaky, and not masked from the background. It’s hard to tell what the new colors actually are!
    Paint test article 4

    4-a: Mask the wall with white, make a large, rolled paint sample. Doing this on a separate card or large poster board will give you an idea of the actual color. Can you tell which one this is, from picture 4?
    Paint test article 4a-WhiteMask with RIGHT side test-more bluegray

    4-b: Same process as 4-a. Which of the two “tested” colors is this one?
    Paint test article 4-4b_white mask with LEFT side test - more green

    There is one more thing you can offer, that some painters have even used as their palette application guidelines. That is to order a digital rendition of what the house will look like (exterior) with the various colors on the different parts of the house. That’s a great way to show a couple of color options in an overall visual. But that’s another story! 


     


  • Tips and Views on the meaning of cost–and the cost of color.

    From remodeling your home to mowing your lawn…What is often at the top of a list of hesitations?
    “Price” or “Cost” often includes much more than an exchange of money.

    Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, that it can be the cost of professional services.

    What does this have to do with remodeling, color, and design?
    As with most discussions there are various ways to look at the subject. Ultimately, the question would be “processed-focused” or “outcome-focused.

    Looking at “Cost vs. Pleasure”
    Cost
    Cost is outlay of cash
    Cost is the level of perceived value
    Cost is “Doing it yourself”

    • Time to do the project
    • The “learning curve,”  if it’s something you have not done before
    • Quality of the outcome, value over time

    More cost also often happens if you do not engage a qualified professional.

    take a bath

    You can even take a bath in your DIY bath house!

    Pleasure
    Pleasure of spending money? If you have the resources this can be unimportant or even pleasurable. But pleasure thrives in the value of creating or producing something yourself, the Satisfaction of “Doing it yourself”

    • Enjoying making Time to do the project
    • Enjoying your Achievements in mastering new challenges
    • Appreciating the outcome has value over time
    • In some cases your results don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be valuable

    Pleasure in having engaged a trusted, qualified professional, is a form of “passive participation.”

    An “outcome-focused” view depends on your goals
    What is your biggest obstacle, for either or both of these positions?

    a) as a provider of professional services
    b) if you are considering hiring professional help

    It’s an important subject from either side and I hope you will share your thoughts and experiences.

    For me, one pleasure that’s worth the cost: getting the windows of my house cleaned…Professionally!


  • “Creative” and “Personal” – a Few Short Tips about Paint Finishes

    Think “Creative and Personal” with these short tips about paint finishes.
    Without a lot of discussion, I wanted to present a few concise tips to consider when you’re selecting interior paint colors for your home. Typically, we have three choices for paint finishes (some companies have one or two in between them): Flat, Eggshell, SemiGloss, and High Gloss.

    Deep Color Effects

    Traditional Family Room by Cambridge Architects & Building Designers LDa Architecture & Interiors
    H
    ere’s a good place to use a flat finish for velvet elegance but just be wary of burnishing. Best used in a space that does not have a lot of activity connected to walls!

    A special note about using those fabulous deep, rich colors that you want to appear “velvet-y” is that there is the Plus and the Minus:
    Plus: Flat finish (in any color) masks many types of surface defects, better than any other sheen.
    Minus: The thing to remember when using deeper colors in a flat finish, in any brand of paint, is that the very, very deep colors can ‘burnish’ when you brush against the surface. This means that if your elbow, for example, happens to rub against the painted surface it might make a mark that looks shiny in some lights. On the other hand, a flat finish requires less perfect walls since, being non-reflective, the imperfections are to a degree masked.

    Traditional Living Room by San Francisco General Contractors Cardea Building Co.
    An interesting treatment in which the beams are wall surface—as they should be!

    A few ideas about trim colors

    • Don’t feel obligated to paint all the trim in a room the same color.
    • Think about the purpose of the trim: to accent a particular architectural element, frame a space, or create unity.
    • Painting the trim the same color as your walls, but in a different finish, is a subtle way to add the illusion of a different color (SemiGloss or High Gloss is brighter than the same color in flat, for example)
    • Painting crown moldings the same color as your ceiling, in a different finish, frames the ceiling and defines the space in a subtle way.
    • Painting the crown moldings the same color as your walls adds height.
    • Window trim in the same color as walls opens the space by bringing your focus to the outside.
    • Using a very dark, contrasting trim color in a higher sheen can be a meaningful design accent.


    Contemporary Dining Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Cheryl Burke Interior Design
    T
    his trim is not super dark but it does stand out beautifully.

    A Non-Color Tip
    Be sure to use the right type of roller for the job. Deep texture surface of course needs a thicker roller; new, smooth surfaces can use a very short-nap roller. But in addition to fiber depth there are a number of different fiber combinations that are best for using with different materials.

    This should apply to any paint brand, from the most prosaic to full spectrum paints like EcoHues.


  • What’s Neutral, anyway? Try these tips.

    What is “Neutral,” anyway?
    A multi-use color that is complementary in many settings. Many colors can be made serve this purpose. They don’t have to be taupe, beige, or gray. Depending on the look you want, even vivid or highly contrasting colors will make a harmonious statement.

    The key is balance. Warm, cool, light, dark, saturated, pale…you have an entire spectrum to choose from.

    What to look for in a ‘mutable neutral?’  That will be a color that functions as a neutral but actually looks very color-rich.  One way to discern the colors that will be most flexible in your surroundings is to look for colors that will create the most comfortable background. Colors that are more “complex,” having multiple tints in their paint mix formula, typically fit this requirement.Using Full Spectrum Paints is one sure way to gain this effect.

    Full Spectrum Neutrals

    A few neutrals that are full spectrum colors: no black or gray in the mix!

    Have you heard the terms “Clear” colors; or, “Dirty” palette, and wondered what that means?
    Simply put, “dirty” is not a negative word! In the world of color it refers to a more grayed, complex combination of hues that look ‘toned down.’
    “Clear” colors are usually more crisp, bright, even sometimes brilliant.

    paint fandeck
    Colors that work as “neutral” can be of either type; their function is typically to provide a unifying background, to “neutralize” potential discord created by excessive contrast or pattern. In creating comfortable living spaces, the goal is to have a dynamic balance between neutral and accent. This is possible even in a more “tonal” environment where colors are within a particular color family or range of brightness, as in ‘tones or shades’ of a certain

    type of color. Usually this means something in an earthy palette but technically “tonal” can mean any relatively monochromatic palette.

    EcoHues Fieldstone-and-Pewter

    Neutrals in various hues.

    Introducing textures can provide the dynamic interest and prevent monotony where a more ‘tonal’ palette is preferred.

    With the current trend for using one color–even a white or gray–through the home, you can still keep it interesting with finishes; for example, flat on the wall and ceiling and the same color in a semigloss or even gloss finish on the trim.

    So, think big in the sense of looking at your space from a wide view. It’s not just about deciding what color to paint a wall to be “neutral.” Look at the elements of harmony for a dynamically neutral result.

     


  • About color or not, open your mind to open your eyes

    Are you perhaps one of the many individuals who is “stuck?” That could mean stuck in a pattern of thinking, behavior, reacting and responding…the list is endless.

    I was thinking about this recently and it even applies to color selections. With so many colors to choose from, whether for interior colors, exterior colors, or just new materials, it’s too easy to just revert to what’s comfortable, what we’re used to, and what we know “looks good.”

    On the other hand, there is a lot of stimulation available through examples, options, and advice both valid and incorrect, that can either help focus and crystallize a decision, or can just create more confusion.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    How I personally approach breaking out of a pattern—whether in daily life in general or in my color consulting life, in particular—is pretty simple. A couple things to share at this time:

    1. Get out of the house/office/studio and just take a quick walk. Not a new tip at all…but I like to pick a subject to focus on or observe each time. Something mundane, like Trees, Sidewalk cracks, Smells…you get the idea.
    2. Read a different type of book by a new author, it changes the perspective.
    3. Play a musical instrument from time to time: either an old friend-familiar one, using a different musical style, or something completely different. For example: this summer I went to Fiddle Camp with my son and grandson. That was a new experience – as a classically trained violinist it was a big switch and a great experience! A way to see and hear things anew.

    “Breaking out of the box of off-white” is really just a metaphor for doing something different. Start large, start small, it does not matter. Just Start.

    Enjoy the process; please share your own methods, and let us know how you evolve!

    RE Cert-Vertical-OUTSIDE-DESIGNCONSULT

  • What more is there to say about color?

    So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post here. “Been So Busy…” is what people often say. I guess it’s true that I have ‘been busy.’ But here’s the thing. So much to think about color, so much to say, so little time, and so forth.

    I just decided to Ask! What would you like to hear about?
    It could be one of these topics but feel free to add your own requests!

    • Interior color ideas?
    • Exterior color ideas?
    • Paint or other materials?
    • Color Theory?
    • Client questions?
    • Full Spectrum Paint color questions?
    • Coordinating paint and furnishings?
    • What is supportive color?
    • Applied color psychology?
      …and more?

    My own list of potential posts is much longer than that of course, but sometimes it’s also good to ask for suggestions.

    Let me know, and let’s share some color stories and tips.

    New England Peaches

    Yes, it’s a bowl of peaches!

    Just the image to inspire a dramatic “Fall” palette for interior and exterior house colors.
    Take your pick, and make the most of how you use them.
    Warning: A little bit goes a long way!

    Meanwhile, enjoy the end of Summer. I know I will.


  • What’s here to stay, and here to change? Color Trends. Period.

    Color trends? Here, to stay… and here, to change.
    It’s that time again, Color Trends are all over the place! Most recently, Pantone reports “Emerald Green” as the latest thing. Green is what I call an “available” color, since because it’s right in the middle of the light-wave spectrum it’s a color most comfortably viewed in many instances. It’s mutable and earthy; inspiring of new life, growth, and positive direction. As a paint color, “green” can be flexible in interiors and can be used in many settings.

    Pantone ENERGIZE greens

    The Pantone “Energize” green palette

    Small World, Indeed
    While I don’t have an “emerald green” in the palette, I’ve been delighted to see that many of my own EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint colors  seem to have aligned with some trend colors over the past year. These are from Pantone:

    What’s my own personal opinion?
    While I don’t really have one personal favorite color, I do have a definite point of view. As an architectural color consultant, paint palette designer and rug designer, my viewpoint is threefold.

    First
    My own primary, professional focus as a color consultant is a strong belief in supportive color design. Foremost is function, coupled with aesthetics and, in the homes of individual clients, personal color preferences naturally have a role as well.

    Where function is concerned, color trends are interesting—and of course they are an indicator of products we’ll be seeing going forward. However using a ‘trendy’ color as a selection simply because it’s “hot” or popular does not serve either my client or myself as the consultant. I always take note of trends but no decision or recommendation I’d ever make is trend-driven.

    Second
    As a paint palette designer, I’ve created the EcoHues line of Full Spectrum Paints as a 32-color curated palette that serves a variety of purposes. Because each of our colors has no black or gray—even in our muted ‘neutrals’ or most highly saturated colors—they are easy to decorate with. So, many “trend” colors can create interesting harmonies with these richly-colored full spectrum paints as part of a design plan.

    In creating the palette style and the actual colors, I’ve been influenced by client requests in both commercial and residential settings.  That request is usually in the form of an expressed feeling. The client desires a particular kind of experience.  A typical kind of request is, for example, “I want a relaxing space, a happy, energizing space, and also something that will complement my furnishings.” So, with that as the impetus, the EcoHues palette includes pale to deep stony neutrals; underwater blues; luminous, ethereal sun-filled yellows; antique-flavored greens; bright blues, and richly warm reds and browns evoking exotic sources.

    How do these fit into upcoming trends?
    While I agree with others that we’re influenced by the economy and world events, what I see as important in general is something that’s been happening for a while now:  a resurgence in health and well-being beyond today’s blood pressure. Certainly, the deeper aspect of the experiences that we all desire in our color environments is well beyond the transitory nature of “what’s hot” right now or even for the near future.

    A quick color trend note
    In the world of color and design—in what appeals to us at the deepest level and that will endure well past this year’s colors—is a reference to organic plant and earth sources, natural materials, and textures. As the world becomes culturally smaller and smaller, international flavors will continue in an ongoing appreciation of solid, earthy tones and textures; warm, natural pigment-inspired colors like rusty oranges, paprika and cinnabar reds; brighter, rich hues like Hydrangea and Phoenix Blue, and the deep tones of Mulberry, Nomad and plum.

    More EcoHues colors are represented here, too

    Cultural blending has, in fact, been well underway for some time and will continue to evolve into new and exciting preferences in color combinations and styles. And, in any space or product, surface sheen and texture are important and often dictate a color’s appearance and therefore contribute to our color preferences and uses.

    Third: Home decor follows fashion
    As a rug designer, I incorporate color from an instinctive perspective, starting with what feels right to me from the artistic standpoint. That said, I can of course change colors in any way to suit individuals’ requests. It surprises me sometimes that many of the colors I initially use in my rug designs do show up in a future trend forecast. That is always interesting, and just demonstrates once again that color is universal—and cyclical.

    Pantone "Heritage" palette

    Pantone’s new greens in the Heritage palette can be flexible.

    My basic belief doesn’t just “belong” to me.
    It’s much broader than any individual, and does not depend on color trends at all.
    As humans—without regard to “trends”—we all crave color in myriad varieties of light and bright, muted yet clean, and deep, rich, and dark. It’s all about proportion, balance, and use. I see color trends as something interesting and cyclical, worth observing, with variations in each re-occurrence of a particular color.

    Are you Into Color Trends for your own home, or your business, or just for fun? Visit these places for more inspiration:

    Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paints
    Kate Smith, of Sensational Color
    Color Marketing Group: Where Trends are Defined
    Pantone: a great resource for color information and products

    Change is dynamic. That’s the fascination that keeps us coming back for more! What’s Your “take” on the trends?


  • A Maslow-Inspired Thanksgiving Color Palette

    What are the colors of Thanksgiving?
    So much more than paint, decorating, or  “trend palettes.”
    I wanted to offer some color-reflections for the holiday season, and beyond.

    Maslow's Hierarchy - reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    What’s important?
    Please share your own inspirations and color-reflections!


  • Asking the right questions

    How to listen: Take a tip from Joseph Albers
    Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”

    Among the many “what’s the first step” items in the process of a new client-relationship, asking the right questions is at the top of my list.

    Of course this also goes for any project, even with people we think we know, since each project carries its own set of circumstances. That’s why I love the above statement by Josef Albers.

    Warming up with Red Clay from EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint

    While creatively problem-solving, opportunities to learn—and to teach—abound in every project

    • Help clients discover their own personal design styles
    • Introduce new concepts and ideas
    • Interact with clients in an authentic way
    EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint - Atlantis and Blue Grotto

    “Atlantis,” an EcoHues Full Spectrum color, is on the back wall of dining area and continues into the foyer that is visible from the dining room.

     

    Soft full spectrum colors, kitchen view into family room

    Rich soft colors enhance—and subtly define—three connected spaces, with 3 different close colors.

    One example, from a client’s note to me
    “…you helped take the confusion out of color selection process and opened up our eyes to color choices we never would have thought of using.  We appreciated how easy it was to work with you, and how carefully you listened to our wants and needs.”

    It just takes practice!
    As artists and designers, it’s so easy to become excited about a project and about our own approach and inspirations. The practice is in listening, and advising while not imposing our personal preferences. It’s really all about the goal for every client.

    I’d love to listen. What is your story?


  • Seeing it Anew, for a New Full Spectrum Experience

    Have you ever heard someone say “I can’t believe I never noticed that before?”
    Have you ever said it yourself?

    How many times do we have to see something before we really notice it?
    “IT” could be just about anything, actually, and once you start to think about “IT,” the  list just grows.
    For example:

    • Special People: recognizing, appreciating, not taking them for granted
    • Disorder: Walk into a room you have not been in for a while and see it with new eyes open
    • Color: combinations of color and new ways of seeing what’s familiar
    • Ideas: open your mind, open your heart!
    • And then of course what can follow is “open heart, open mind!”

    What are your recent Openers that you want to share here? Just leave your comment to this post.

    Often we’re simply ‘stuck’ in the place we are. Emotionally, physically, and environmentally—from the perspective of trying to make even a small change. Color and even simple design changes can help to create a full-spectrum life.

    Sometimes an outside view is just what’s needed to reflect and have a new experience.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    If  you want help seeing—and experiencing—your own environment with a new view, just let me know.
    Helping people get ‘un-stuck,’ and evolve through their color and design dilemmas, is my specialty.

    Check out colorful Gift Certificates fo provide a full-spectrum experience for yourself, your family, and friends.


  • Bio-What? Add Nature to your Life and Feel Better Now

    Biophilia.*

    It’s not quite a “household word” yet, but is definitely becoming a regularly accepted fact: including as many references to “nature” as possible—in any kind of space—leads to more healthy living and working environments. How this plays out in a very real, practical way is documented in some very interesting articles.  You might say, it’s  even a matter of common sense—and dollars.

    We humans need to be connected to nature.
    We hear this so much that it borders on sounding trite. But it’s an innate aspect of our biological makeup—we’re “hard-wired” with this need, and it’s a good one. The very real, physical concept of Biophilia brings it into a larger scale of relevance; architectural projects ranging from a variety of workplaces, manufacturing, offices, and especially health care, can reap the largest-scale benefits—from improving their financial conditions to creating more socially healthy civic communities, in general.

    According to a fascinating short article I recently read, * ‘Biophilic Design Could Save Millions of Dollars,’ including more vegetation in cities would visibly reduce crime rates “7 percent,” and subsequently save tremendous amounts of money “in incarceration costs from violent and property crimes.”

    At this point you might be saying…Ok, that’s interesting but “What About Me? What can I do in my own home go introduce a more nature-relevant quality?”

    beach view

    How would you use this image as inspiration for creating your own nature-based color palette?


    Even on a smaller, personal scale

    there’s a huge benefit to creating associations to nature. Whether you have a small rented apartment, or a condo or home of any size that you own, you can really make a difference in the lives of yourself and family members.

    So, on to a few quick comments about using color in your home or workplace, to help introduce some more natural qualities in addition to the houseplants you might already have, and your garden (which are a great start, by the way). We’re back to often-discussed topics included in what I often talk about: Supportive Color Design.

    • Lighting: incorporate as much natural lighting as possible. Be sure to test your paint colors in all available lighting condition in your setting.
    • Color: Specifically the benefits of using Full Spectrum Paint: Eliminate black and gray from your walls. Full spectrum paints using a minimum of 7 tints in each color will get you the closest to the colors of sunlight–at least as close as you can get considering it’s paint.
    • Shapes: Beyond the typical room shapes, look at shapes in nature and see how you can bring those elements into your own home.
    • Space design: Creating a comfortable and supportive interior environment: arrange your furniture and other decorative items in an orderly and balanced way for maximum comfort, taking into consideration their sizes, shapes, and placement in the space.

    From the original article titled “The Economics of Biophilia” prepared by the environmental consulting and strategic planning firm, Terrapin Bright Green,  is this statement by E.O. Wilson, the person who defined Biophilia:

    Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything  else humanity is ever likely to encounter.” – E.O. Wilson, 1984

    Image courtesy of FIGUURA, from the Terrapin Bright Green article.

    How do contemporary designers incorporate Biophilia in their own work? In ways not specifically “interior design” but even in specific products used in interiors. Wall coverings, office cubicle textiles, and the drapes in hospital patients’ rooms are just a few. Textile designer Laura Deubler Mercurio, whose work is shown in the image below, is a long-time colleague of mine through the IACC (International Association of Color Consultants). She is completely involved in Biophilic and fractal design, creating exciting, beautiful and thoughtful designs for woven textiles, that are used in the three types of locations I just mentioned.

    fabric design by Laura Deuble-Mercurio

    Fractal studies have inspired Laura Deubler-Mercurio to design fabrics for hospital use.
    Her textile designs are based on our senses relating to fractal divisions in nature.

    Personally, I’d heard about Biophilia many years ago, and since then that awareness has had a significant connection to my own approach to Supportive Color Design, that applies to interior or exterior color design. Thanks to Eco-Structure.com, a publication of the AIA, for bringing this in-depth article to my attention.

    What you’re reading in this post is intended to encourage you to read the entire, original article that you can download from the Terrapin Bright Green web site.


  • ICFF 2012: Something multicolored, something blue, and many things new.

    It’s not borrowed. It’s multicolored, and it’s sometimes blue.

    Not talking about “June weddings.” In this case, it’s the ICFF show (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). A great place to see international contemporary culture expressed in design. Sometimes reflective of something old, and in many cases something new, and always interesting.

    In any case, I always find this show enjoyable on many levels. Seeing many of the latest new products, color trends and design trends from international designers, and talking with some of them in person, is an experience I find fun and inspiring.

    LIghting at ICFF

    Hand blown glass fixtures - glowing frosty finish

    So, to share just a few of the items that piqued my interest for a number of reasons…
    I enjoyed a brief conversation with Jamie Harris, the artist who created these beautiful hand blown glass light fixtures

    ICFF light

    Hand blown glass fixtures - metallic shimmer

    ICFF lighting

    Sheer color in gorgeous hand blown lighting

     

    Still on the subject of light, check out these amazing solid acrylic tubes. Colors infuse the entire material throughout, and the colors change as you move around the piece according to viewing angles. Even the edges are luminously multicolored

    LED acrlic solid tube

    Walk around and see how the color changes. View 1 of 4

    .ICFF lights

    View 2
    ICFF lighting
    View 3
    ICFF lighting

    View 4

    Imagine the setting for these beautifully sculptural light fixtures.

    Moving along to see some furniture, something I always enjoy.

    glowing furniture

    Fantasy cabinets - one of a few from Boca Do Lobo

    drawers
    It’s not just a stack of sample finishes…Each drawer is an individual, functional drawer.
    unique furniture

    The upper section, and the surface shown below, is beaded by indigenous Huichol people in Mexico. From Espacio Sami Hayek. How do you like the wood?

    Note: the picture on their web site is Not of their ICFF booth…at least not the one I saw there.

    furniture

    Closeup of the artistic detail on this credenza by the same company, Espacio Sami Hayek.

    display booth

    Closeup of a metal wall of a display "booth"

    japanese tetilres

    Something Blue! So very beautiful, and "Wabi-Sabi." Amazing textiles from Kyoto Rakushian

    closeup japanese textiles

    I could not resist sharing a closer view.

    And last, but not least, for now…

    funky furnituire

    Just so we don't get too serious..simple, funky, and having a sense of humor.

    So much to see and enjoy in one day, these are just a few of my favorites.

    Do you have a favorite? If so, which piece–and where would you use it?


  • Color Q & A: Use Deep Color and be Happy

    A question I received recently about using deep color prompted me to share this topic with you. First of all, I’d like to state that Yes, you can be “Happy” using deep colors.

    Q: We recently moved…
    into a new contemporary high-rise home , and ditched all the British colonial/country French stuff. We’re still living with builder’s paint and are getting eager to make a change. We’d like to try something new (maybe charcoal!) but afraid it will end up a somber cave instead of elegant and crisp.

    A: The question of using deep colors…
    always comes with the concern “Won’t it make the space feel small?”  Since there is not one simple answer to this, I wanted to briefly touch on a few ideas about the subject. You might call it “advice on psychology of painting darker colors”—but that has such a formidable sound, I’d rather call it “some tips about using deep colors.”

    Psychological color associations are so interesting. “Darker colors” often are described as serious, depressing, sad, formidable (see above comment), and other similar mood-and-feeling descriptions. The flip side of the description might be “sophisticated, intimate, cozy, meditative, exotic, solid…” and so forth. In other words, there are many ways to look at how we describe and feel about color!

    But psychological associations aside, we have the physical attributes of the space (lighting, room size, wall shapes, ceiling height, floor color and material) and the question of function (what you want to do there)   are all part of the picture and process of choosing the best colors for your needs.

    A few ideas on making a space elegant and crisp using deep colors

    • Deep on the walls and ceiling, bright contrast on the trim.
    • Select brightly colored accessories
    • Use texture and light
    • Use the deep colors of walls as a dramatic background for artwork or collections
    • Use a deep color on an accent wall to extend the view in the room and expand the space.

    EcoHues-FieldPewter
    Deep, earthy EcoHues Full Spectrum – Fieldstone in a very small bedroom, opens to EcoHues Full Spectrum – Pewter on walls and ceiling in the adjacent powder room. Cabinets and lower walls are EcoHues Full Spectrum – Char-Plum Gray.

    deep color bright accent
    Closeup of cabinet in above picture: EcoHues Full Spectrum – CharPlum Gray. Brightly colored glass knobs make the deep color stand out and look even richer.

    Deep Chocolate accent wall in Kitchen Gallery
    Deep color on the walls of this kitchen “gallery” is Chocolate, from Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum paints.

     

    EcoHues-Atlantis
    Deep color again, this one is EcoHues Full Spectrum – Atlantis. Note the wall color is also used on the ceiling in the alcove portion of this space.(below)
    alcove in entry

    Below: Deep on the trim, with contrast color on walls and ceiling (in this case, the ceiling is a soft tinted white)

    . dark trim lighter walls

    Walls are Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum – Mustard Seed. Trim is Benjamin Moore HC-67.

    Do have an experience using deeper colors that you would like to share?

    My goal is to help create the best possible spaces with colors that help you enjoy your life and accomplish what you dream of doing. Let me help you “Get outside the box of off-white with colors for your vibrant life.


  • Linen-weave texture: made a mistake but now corrected

    Silly mistakes will happen. Most recently here: posting something by mistake, then deleting it to try to correct the error, then deciding to re-post.

    This recent post was brought to my attention today by a friendly reader who wrote me an email that the page was no longer available.

    What’s good about that? Now I can make it better.

    What happened?
    I’d posted an image of a decorative finish, a project in which I’d painted a linen-weave strie design in two colors, two layers. The problem was that I’d not included any info on the picture!

    This can be a lovely way to create a hand-painted wall covering, using colors to create depth and interest.

    How you do it
    First layer, apply glaze evenly, blend, then drag vertically with a wallpaper brush. When it’s dry, do the second layer: the same process, different color, drag horizontally.

    Tip
    Tape off vertical sections and work in alternating areas. You will actually save some time because you can use a faster-drying glaze. By the time you work your way around the room you may be able to go back and do the 2nd layer. Granted, this may not work for all sizes and shapes of rooms but it is one way to do this process.

    What’s your experience?
    Have you made tech-errors that were embarrassing? On the other subject, have you tried DIY-decorative finishes that did not work out?


  • Before you shop for a rug, consider this very important issue.

    An area rug can be many things in your decor, and making the decision about which rug to choose from the literally thousands available (and as you know, that’s an understatement) can, in that way, be an experience that resembles selecting paint.

    In choosing an area rug, your main considerations might be your use for the rug, and your budget. Other issues besides cost, color, and design, will include longevity. For some details in a brief “rug primer,” this article in the recent Fabulous Floors Blog will give you some tips to take note of, even before you start to shop for a rug.

    A big part of what’s important in rug selection, however, is the issue of who actually made the rug.  Adults? Slave-labor children? Goodweave.org is making great strides in eliminating child labor in the rug industry; rescuing children from the labor market and providing education and a chance at a higher quality of life. This video is one of three from GoodWeave that addresses that subject.  If it’s something you have never thought about, you may be surprised—so please take a look. Each GoodWeave member pays a portion of your purchase price of a GoodWeave certified rug toward this goal.

    At least, paint does not carry those considerations.  While some of the main issues with paint are comparable: What you need and where you will use it; budget; VOCs and personal health concerns; durability; ease of touch-up; and of course your color choices, that include colors that have black in them, or true Full Spectrum colors with no black and a minimum of seven tints in each!

    But, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed—about either rugs, or paint.

    For a rug, be sure to go to a dealer that carries rugs from GoodWeave suppliers. Each GoodWeave certified rug will have a numbered label. For your dilemmas about paint selections, I am here to help.


Tips for Testing – it’s your most important tool before painting

Integral ColorViews Blog

Color—as a subject for discussion and also as an experience— is fun, exhilarating, fanciful, practical, and always interesting. Color use also has serious aspects. As a colorist, I look forward to sharing a wide range of tips, books, and color-and-design related subjects with you. You're invited to share your own color inspirations!

  • More Palettes – the Many Moods of Summer

    Here it is, only the end of July and yet it almost feels like “Summer” is over. Why is that? Time passes so quickly? Maybe it’s because we’re already seeing Fall fashions.

    But wait, there’s more!’ (ok where have we heard that before?) It is still happening and in a typically glorious way, too.  So, not really after the fact—but rather in reflecting on recent memory both mental and visual—I wanted to present a few color palette ideas based on natural surroundings and a few other things, too. After all, the “Many Moods of Summer” includes a lot! It’s not all sailing, sunny, and roses…we have some moody and darkly mysterious moments also. That’s what adds the dimensional quality, it seems to me. So whether it’s for paint colors interior or exterior,  your home or your workplace, fashion, or just another view of the world, new color  palettes can offer new inspiration.

    Obviously, like many of you I enjoy being inspired by color combinations that occur in nature. After all, that’s where it begins. There is of course the related risk of being redundant, or looking like a ‘copier.’ Yet, that’s not really been a problem for me. I just am inspired by and where inspiration strikes and, while I find it interesting to see what else is ‘out there,’ I’m  not really directed by the colors that others present.

     

    Fresh warmth of yellow roses

    Wake up to the sunny, fresh energy of yellows.

    The perfect range of yellows in golden roses, golden glow.

     

    Striated roses.

    Is this just a local type of rose? I have no idea! But they’re beautiful.

    I’ve never seen these before they popped up in our front yard! They elicit a smile every day.What a pleasure.

    Another viewpoint of rose-inspired colors.

    Another aspect of colors related to the same flowers.

    Same flowers, different interpretation.

     

    Multihued roses

    Translucent, multicolored petals spike the imagination.

    Looking past the most obvious view, the juicy-looking underside of another multicolored rose feels like sunset hues.

    A different view of the same rose

    Yet, such a different view from the top

    View from above, the same brilliant flower!

     

    Look past the subject, include the cool accents.

    Cool accents included

    Balance is key. As with many things, looking past the obvious adds dimension. In this case, it’s adding a little coolness from the surroundings.

    Speaking of dimension and balance, a trip one day to Point Reyes offered this surprise, moody inspiration.

    Peaceful color in Point Reyes

    A softly misty morning has a peaceful quality.

    And night skies provide a different kind of dramatic palette.

    Night time view on the road.

    Dramatic night skies

     

    Beautiful Bark.

    What is this? Bark on a tree. That is…Under the bark, the tree.

    A more “neutral” style of palette is inspired here by the swirling growth patterns of the tree and it’s amazing colors and shapes.

     

    Historic design.

    Antique stencilled wood.

    Pieces of antique wood taken from a historic building. Beautiful stencilled patterns and a lovely color combination that could create a mood that’s festive or calm. In person, of course, it’s even more impressive.

    Back to a favorite place for long walks, this is a peaceful location. The view is from a bridge.

    View from a bridge

    View of this waterway taken from a bridge.

    Similar, but each visit is a unique experience with something different to focus on. How can you not be inspired?

    A different experience

    Every visit to this area provides a different experience.

    Another tree, another world, a completely different look. But that’s no surprise, just inspiring.

    Tree bark

    More Bark!

    Back to the playground!

    Playground structure

    Fun in the Sun at the playground. A very straightforward palette just feels like playing outdoors.

    So, with my usual caveat to not use these color selections as rules, or dictates, or even to recommend using them as you seem them together here, I hope you enjoy the combinations.

    And as always, I invite your comments.


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  • How to choose the right colors! OR: is there a simple way to choose the right colors?

    That’s the question, and it applies to both interiors and exteriors of homes and other buildings.

    What’s the answer?
    I remember reading and enjoying an article in the New York Times from a while ago by one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors, Lee Child, a master in creating compelling characters and situations with a very particular flavor in the “action” genre. If you’re looking for entertaining, fast-paced reading his work is a lot of fun to read.

    His article, “A Simple Way to Create Suspense” is essentially about his own process in creating suspense in his writing.

    How can that idea possibly translate to selecting the best colors for our homes or workplaces?
    Ask yourself the right questions! Since just about every question you can ask about color will have some kind of answer—and ideally help direct you to a useful solution—try starting with these:

    * Where is the place?
    * Is your subject the interior or the exterior?
    * What do you, or others using the space, want to do there?
    * Do you have specific goals, or is the need a more general one?

    But naturally there are some guidelines that will help direct you to the best combinations of colors for your purposes. Qualities of space and use like wall size, texture, lighting (natural and artificial), and surroundings in general are some of the considerations.

    Begin each project by defining a sense of purpose and goal, which is where the questions and the guidelines come in. a client’s personal preferences play a role as well but typically are just part of the picture.  Color trends, while interesting, often inspiring, and fun to follow, really have little to do with arriving at the most effective and supportive color palettes for a specific building or space.

    Colorful Tree House

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The excitement and “suspense” is in the process and the evolution of results; testing accent colors, for example, will lead you to transform a simple, earthy color into an interesting environment. Using colors that are just a little too bright can make a space uncomfortable and stressful instead of  enjoyable and nourishing.  A one-inch color chip is never a reliable indication of a whole room or even one wall!

    Back to the Suspense, in case you want to read the article also!

    So, a few tips
    * Overestimate the impact: Use your favorite super-bright colors as accents in furnishings, accessories, or smaller wall surfaces
    * Textured wall and ceilings tend to “absorb” more color, while smoother surfaces reflect more color.
    * Lighting will affect your results, whether inside or outside. So be sure to see what colors look like in different times of day and evening.|
    * Use less vivid colors for your larger surfaces
    * Consider using the same color on walls and ceilings to minimize distraction, especially in smaller spaces.
    * Remember that your floors are large surface areas so consider floor color, including carpeting, when you’re thinking of wall colors.
    * Exterior: considering the roofing color (I’ll explore this specific subject later in a separate article)
    * Balancing warm and cool colors, and bright and soft colors, is important to create a comfortable and interesting space.

    One of the most important parts of the process is Testing! Use a roller and be sure to apply two coats over primer to get the most accurate color representation, just as you would do when painting your walls.

    Then, Enjoy the Process!
    Send in your own favorite color combinations to share, with a note about the goal and the use.

     


  • ‘Tis the Season—for Nature-Based Spring Color Palettes!

    We can usually agree that “nature” is the best inspiration for inspired color palettes. But that’s a broad topic! So for purposes of this post about color inspirations, I’ll stick to what is right underfoot, literally.

    It seems that every time I go out for a walk—whether to the beach, a local path, just ‘around town,’ or via a sweeping vista of fields—I love to look around with color palettes in mind. This usually involves being inspired to take some pictures and reflect on relative colors and how they might be used. Or, simply, just open my eyes to the color-view that they land on, and just see the objects and landscapes from an abstract, colorist perspective instead of something more literal.

    Starting with something that has a more far-away focus, the sky and land in a sweeping panorama, these two are not the more pastel kinds of colors we typically think of as “Spring.” Yet, there it is…new growth.

    Translated to simpler colors:

    Large field view

    Clouds and ocean beyond the bands of colorful plants.

     

    Color grasses

    A closer view in a similar color range.

     

    new buds and flowers

    New buds and flowers are a little brighter here.

     

    Beautiful colors and textures.

    What a beautiful, bountiful array of colors and textures in this in-ground bouquet.

     

    Tonal Grasses

    Grasses have their own “tonal excitement.” It’s even better when they move in the breeze. The lightest tips are almost iridescent.

     

    Grasses are colorful.

    A few steps down the path, a different color look entirely. Warm and nurturing, earthy colors offer a sense of security at any time of year. The light ochre and ivory in both these grassy colors can be either main color or accent.

     

    beautiful leaves.

    These delightful little leaves are waiting with open arms for the buds to arrive. The soft blue-green and yellow add a fresh, bright appearance that makes this color group a very liveable one.

     

    Buds to become flowers

    Close up, these little buds almost look like mini-succulents.  The soft pinky-coral of the buds makes the green tones stand out even more. The groups of buds will turn into…

     

    White flowers from buds.

    Creamy color of these almost-white flowers! Note the nearby buds. Deep earthy brown; tonal greens; ivory – together make a lovely palette. Pay attention to your proportions and intensity of colors when you actually apply this color group.

     

    Shocking Pink.

    Amid the lower intensity colors, a shock of beautiful pinks wakes up the morning!

    More color palettes to come!

    A note about color use and modification
     I’m not suggesting that you take these palettes literally or try to apply the colors as entire rooms or even walls. Think of them more as an interesting harmony, that you can use in various proportions and even in deeper, or lighter, or brighter versions of the same colors than are shown here. Take the colors from one group and inject one or two from another one. Granted, that takes a different kind of practice but just give it a shot and see what you can come up with to create the feeling that is portrayed.

    Meanwhile, please feel free to submit your comments and pictures of how you might use or have used these types of colors in your own spaces or client projects. I look forward to hearing from you.


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  • What’s it like to do something really different?

    Over the past year a lot has happened. Moving from Massachusetts, where I lived for a very long time, to California–where I’d lived in the past and “Swore” I’d never live there again! (moral: never say “Never!”)  But here I am, and it is like being on a different planet. And actually a good one! I just got back from sitting in with my fiddle (aka violin), with some local bluegrass players in a weekly “jam”—which is informal, and fortunately for me they are very welcoming and patient.

    But what is also really different? Being willing to take the time to actually DO something really different. Over the past number of months, that has been developing a project that started unintentionally from a spark of inspiration, taking on a life of it’s own as I became more deeply engrossed in its evolution. I’ve always done some kind of artwork, all my life. As long as I can remember, that has been an essential part of life—in many forms over the years—whether painting, sewing, textile painting, furniture and wall painting, print design, rug design, and other media.

    In many ways, working in the field of color consulting—which I’ve been doing since 1986—has been an art expression. But it’s been much more about actually helping others, my clients, tap into, and become more confident in, their own expression with color. I always have loved that part of the work. Now, with an expanded focus on my own art work,  I’m enjoying that experience again but in a very different way.

    Sonoma County view.

    Sonoma County mountains and pasture.

    Most recently, relocating here to Northern California, I started drawing.  It sounds simplistic, but what happened was, for me, remarkable. I found that, with an open and relaxed mind, the images that came out were surprising and actually fascinating. I became spellbound by the process.

    What has developed from that experience is the inspiration to do a book. Actually it’s a coloring book. Now, it’s in the final phases and the whole process is much more involved than I imagined when I started with the notion to do it. In fact, the fascinating thing that has come from working on the book is that, while it is a ‘coloring book’ and as such has a great benefit that is very well known for stress relief, I’ve constructed it in a way that will actually help people develop their own sense of colors and how the colors feel to them that is well beyond simply coloring a picture. I’m looking forward to seeing what evolves with it, and to sharing it with you when it’s ready. I will set up a page on this site for the book, also!

    Sonoma County

    In Sonoma County, a view without boundaries.

    The point about this process, that I’ve started to learn from the current experience, is that just being open to something new—without boundaries—is an exciting experience.  Now, you may be someone for whom this is no surprise and who has always just done anything you’ve wanted to do. But I really believe that many people need to have the little “zing” of inspiration that just does not let go, and the exhilarating experience of the creative surge that comes with a new idea that is actually manifested.  I wish I had an easy recipe for that.

    But it boils down to this: take the time to get out of the usual way of doing things; change up the routine; see things with a new eye, and breathe!

    If you have something to share about embarking on a new experience, doing something really different, please share it in a comment.

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  • Color Geography – the anatomy of a long-distance consult project

    How does geographic location affect color choices?
    Even for long-distance color design projects, considering the lighting and the actual location is a “must.” Imagination is part of it, but also local-area images are important, along with the essential client-provided information.

    This is also where a digital image process can be so helpful. It’s a way to virtually see the building as-if it’s already painted with the new colors, using images the client provides. And it’s those images that offer a way to see what the house or other building looks like in it’s own environment.

    One example, a family’s house in Pennsylvania, a 130-year old Queen Anne Victorian. Being in the Boston area at the time, it was not convenient for me to travel to the client’s location, even though this is always an option for the right circumstances. We started with descriptions, my questionnaire about location, site, and lifestyle, and photos provided by the client.

    Existing colors in Pennsylvania

    “Before” colors: Two views, front and side.

    Mical_BEFORE-sideview - Copy

    The project was a bit complex, since there were a number of structures involved: the house itself, a semi-attached garage and carport, other outbuilding, and a tree house. Many siding a trim styles and materials were also involved. Among them were stone, clapboard, shingles; window and door casings; porch floors, ceilings, and railings; trim details. Also some structural items were part of the picture, like gables and bump-outs.

    Because of the structure, the details and materials, we wanted to create a sense of cohesion in a natural style color palette that was fairly simple throughout. The treehouse was the location to incorporate some bright, more whimsical colors.

    View to carport

    View to carport – Before

    Garage view - before

    Garage view – Before

    Working closely, albeit long-distance, there were many communications and visuals back and forth. Color schemes illustrated with the digital image views were offered and responded to by the clients, and it was very much a collaborative process. We worked our way through a few options, any of which could have worked very well.

    Ultimately, the final palette evolved. Paint plan details and final color images presented and affirmed. The clients reported it was also helpful for their painter, who used the color images as a reference, part of their direction for work.

    New colors in Pennsylvania

    After a few variations…New colors are subtle but make a big difference !

    Side view

    New colors – Side view

    New colors tree house.

    Tree house – back side.

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The clients expressed their experience in this way:
    Engaging your services was priceless and the digital renderings are absolutely worth the investment.  We loved seeing what the house would look like before it was even painted.  Our painter has used the image as his own blueprint for painting the house.  It truly is a must-have, and the end product looks practically just like the digital image.  It certainly put a complete end to the debate over colors that we have had as a couple! (Read more from them, and others, here…) Thanks to the clients for providing photos.

    I’ve enjoyed developing this service and the processes involved. Communication has always been an important element in my life, and this mode is just a development of that aspect. So now that I’m based in California, it’s something I can continue to enjoy offering and doing.


  • Tips for Testing – it’s your most important tool before painting

    Have you ever thought about the tools you need for painting?
    Think of testing your paint selections as the most important ‘tool’ in your bag.

    Tips for Testing

    Q: Are you about to make decisions about paint color?

    Q: Painters and designers: Are you about to recommend paint colors for a client?

    Q: How can you make high quality color test samples to help your clients make color decisions?

    You’re a painting professional who has just been asked for the Thousandth time…”how will it look?” Of course you may have even seen the specified color in many other settings over the years—or, perhaps you’ve never seen it yourself in “real life.” Do you have time to test a lot of color swatches for your clients?

    Whether you are doing this yourself or perhaps even suggesting that the homeowner (or other client) do it and let you know what they want to use (and some people will actually want to do this), I’d like to share a few tips that you can recommend, or even use yourself if they are new to you. It’s not “rocket science,” we all know that.

    So, to keep it simple, I recommend starting with the premise that color looks different in all types of lighting and of course throughout the day—and evening—on different surfaces. Color changes in corners, also, as it intensifies where two walls of the same color meet, and it changes in other ways depending on the actual lighting and also when two walls or surfaces (ie: wall and ceiling) of differing colors meet. It’s the angle that does it – whether the typical 90 degrees or something else, as in a vaulted ceiling, and the reflection of light causes the colors to affect each other.

    Therefore, the following apply:
    1. Make the paint test on a moveable and repositionable surface. Something that can be affixed temporarily to any wall, ceiling, or even floor (when you are painting a floor).

    Note: do not use your blue tape on the edges of this! Tape the back side only.

    2. Make the colored surfaces in proportion to each other, for example: Trim colors will usually be narrower than the wall color surfaces.

    3. Be sure the surface you paint the test on is primed, or at least under-painted with a color similar to what you’re testing. For example, you can of course use poster board but since it’s paper, it must be oil-primed so it does not warp. Personally I like the flat-finish, fast drying low odor products for this.

    Note: I’ve typically prepared up to 20 or so poster boards with this type of oil primer, to have ready to go in advance–and easy to use at a moment’s notice–when preparing color tests for clients.

    4. Roll on 2 coats of your finish (test) color, making the application as close to what you intend to do on the final surface. Use a roller with similar pile to what you plan to use on the job.

    5. Use a stable surface with a texture similar to the wall or surface to be painted. IF the target surface is textured, it’s worth it to make a replica since color reacts so differently with the light falling on textured or smooth surfaces.

    6. Be sure to do the test with the same finish you’ll be using on the actual surface (Flat? Eggshell? Semi-or-high-gloss?)

    7. Label your sample cards and cut a nice, smooth-edged one about 8”x8” to leave with the client for their own ‘shopping’ purposes. I find that people appreciate this especially when they are looking at window treatments and furnishings.

    8. OK, so what about materials? I mentioned using wood, (smooth and primed, of course), poster board and foam core (oil prime first), and you can use other substrates like gator board, or drywall (also prime).

    9. But there is also a really easy solution, one that I personally really like to use and always recommend to my clients who want to do the testing themselves: Small Wall. It’s a great surface, prepared for paint (aka No Priming Needed), a 1’x1’ size (2 in a pack), has a re-positionable adhesive strip on on the back, and can be reused, re-painted. You can even cut it with a solid paper cutter, to make smaller pieces, and hole-punch if that’s how you keep color records. I think they also sell contractor packs of 50, which makes it a very easy process. (check out www.mysmallwall for info)

    Interior or exterior, the same process applies. For exterior work you might want to have some siding pieces available that are at least very similar to the client’s house if not the exact same thing. Doing more than just one strip (minimum 4 to 6 strips high, of clapboard style) will give a more accurate view of what the shadows will do at various times of day. Remember to make trim samples also, in the same widths as the actual trim and casings or other details.

    So, you might ask, why go to all this trouble, anyway? The main reason is: Minimize confusion, make the color choices easy, and be professional. Stripes and color patches on the walls look messy and are visually confusing. You can’t see the specified colors next to each other on a large enough surface because there is just too much going on and the existing colors will inform the appearance of the tested colors.

    To illustrate
    1.How to block other colors – hang a white sheet, use white paper, or paint white primer background.
    Paint test article 1 step in the right direction

    This is a start but there are still too many colors in one area and you can’t move them around the room at all.

    Note: using a roller is best, to get the most solid coverage (Yes, 2 coats) and no streaks. The point is to replicate the actual color appearance of the final surface.

    2. Patches are confusing – use one color at a time. This is a useless waste of time, money and emotion. Let’s hope it’s just done for the sake of this picture and not to actually suggest testing colors like this!
    Paint test article 2-chaos

    3. Place your reviewed color in corners, next to walls, next to ceiling if possible, next to floor or baseboards, next to doorway to see adjacent rooms with the proposed new color you’re reviewing. In this example they are using a large test area and have applied the color in adjacent walls meeting in a corner, but then it’s complicated by using the swatches of other colors, even if they are variations on a theme.
    Paint test article 3-browns

    4. This is another ineffective test, using colors that are too close together, not painted solidly so they look streaky, and not masked from the background. It’s hard to tell what the new colors actually are!
    Paint test article 4

    4-a: Mask the wall with white, make a large, rolled paint sample. Doing this on a separate card or large poster board will give you an idea of the actual color. Can you tell which one this is, from picture 4?
    Paint test article 4a-WhiteMask with RIGHT side test-more bluegray

    4-b: Same process as 4-a. Which of the two “tested” colors is this one?
    Paint test article 4-4b_white mask with LEFT side test - more green

    There is one more thing you can offer, that some painters have even used as their palette application guidelines. That is to order a digital rendition of what the house will look like (exterior) with the various colors on the different parts of the house. That’s a great way to show a couple of color options in an overall visual. But that’s another story! 


     


  • Tips and Views on the meaning of cost–and the cost of color.

    From remodeling your home to mowing your lawn…What is often at the top of a list of hesitations?
    “Price” or “Cost” often includes much more than an exchange of money.

    Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, that it can be the cost of professional services.

    What does this have to do with remodeling, color, and design?
    As with most discussions there are various ways to look at the subject. Ultimately, the question would be “processed-focused” or “outcome-focused.

    Looking at “Cost vs. Pleasure”
    Cost
    Cost is outlay of cash
    Cost is the level of perceived value
    Cost is “Doing it yourself”

    • Time to do the project
    • The “learning curve,”  if it’s something you have not done before
    • Quality of the outcome, value over time

    More cost also often happens if you do not engage a qualified professional.

    take a bath

    You can even take a bath in your DIY bath house!

    Pleasure
    Pleasure of spending money? If you have the resources this can be unimportant or even pleasurable. But pleasure thrives in the value of creating or producing something yourself, the Satisfaction of “Doing it yourself”

    • Enjoying making Time to do the project
    • Enjoying your Achievements in mastering new challenges
    • Appreciating the outcome has value over time
    • In some cases your results don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be valuable

    Pleasure in having engaged a trusted, qualified professional, is a form of “passive participation.”

    An “outcome-focused” view depends on your goals
    What is your biggest obstacle, for either or both of these positions?

    a) as a provider of professional services
    b) if you are considering hiring professional help

    It’s an important subject from either side and I hope you will share your thoughts and experiences.

    For me, one pleasure that’s worth the cost: getting the windows of my house cleaned…Professionally!


  • “Creative” and “Personal” – a Few Short Tips about Paint Finishes

    Think “Creative and Personal” with these short tips about paint finishes.
    Without a lot of discussion, I wanted to present a few concise tips to consider when you’re selecting interior paint colors for your home. Typically, we have three choices for paint finishes (some companies have one or two in between them): Flat, Eggshell, SemiGloss, and High Gloss.

    Deep Color Effects

    Traditional Family Room by Cambridge Architects & Building Designers LDa Architecture & Interiors
    H
    ere’s a good place to use a flat finish for velvet elegance but just be wary of burnishing. Best used in a space that does not have a lot of activity connected to walls!

    A special note about using those fabulous deep, rich colors that you want to appear “velvet-y” is that there is the Plus and the Minus:
    Plus: Flat finish (in any color) masks many types of surface defects, better than any other sheen.
    Minus: The thing to remember when using deeper colors in a flat finish, in any brand of paint, is that the very, very deep colors can ‘burnish’ when you brush against the surface. This means that if your elbow, for example, happens to rub against the painted surface it might make a mark that looks shiny in some lights. On the other hand, a flat finish requires less perfect walls since, being non-reflective, the imperfections are to a degree masked.

    Traditional Living Room by San Francisco General Contractors Cardea Building Co.
    An interesting treatment in which the beams are wall surface—as they should be!

    A few ideas about trim colors

    • Don’t feel obligated to paint all the trim in a room the same color.
    • Think about the purpose of the trim: to accent a particular architectural element, frame a space, or create unity.
    • Painting the trim the same color as your walls, but in a different finish, is a subtle way to add the illusion of a different color (SemiGloss or High Gloss is brighter than the same color in flat, for example)
    • Painting crown moldings the same color as your ceiling, in a different finish, frames the ceiling and defines the space in a subtle way.
    • Painting the crown moldings the same color as your walls adds height.
    • Window trim in the same color as walls opens the space by bringing your focus to the outside.
    • Using a very dark, contrasting trim color in a higher sheen can be a meaningful design accent.


    Contemporary Dining Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Cheryl Burke Interior Design
    T
    his trim is not super dark but it does stand out beautifully.

    A Non-Color Tip
    Be sure to use the right type of roller for the job. Deep texture surface of course needs a thicker roller; new, smooth surfaces can use a very short-nap roller. But in addition to fiber depth there are a number of different fiber combinations that are best for using with different materials.

    This should apply to any paint brand, from the most prosaic to full spectrum paints like EcoHues.


  • What’s Neutral, anyway? Try these tips.

    What is “Neutral,” anyway?
    A multi-use color that is complementary in many settings. Many colors can be made serve this purpose. They don’t have to be taupe, beige, or gray. Depending on the look you want, even vivid or highly contrasting colors will make a harmonious statement.

    The key is balance. Warm, cool, light, dark, saturated, pale…you have an entire spectrum to choose from.

    What to look for in a ‘mutable neutral?’  That will be a color that functions as a neutral but actually looks very color-rich.  One way to discern the colors that will be most flexible in your surroundings is to look for colors that will create the most comfortable background. Colors that are more “complex,” having multiple tints in their paint mix formula, typically fit this requirement.Using Full Spectrum Paints is one sure way to gain this effect.

    Full Spectrum Neutrals

    A few neutrals that are full spectrum colors: no black or gray in the mix!

    Have you heard the terms “Clear” colors; or, “Dirty” palette, and wondered what that means?
    Simply put, “dirty” is not a negative word! In the world of color it refers to a more grayed, complex combination of hues that look ‘toned down.’
    “Clear” colors are usually more crisp, bright, even sometimes brilliant.

    paint fandeck
    Colors that work as “neutral” can be of either type; their function is typically to provide a unifying background, to “neutralize” potential discord created by excessive contrast or pattern. In creating comfortable living spaces, the goal is to have a dynamic balance between neutral and accent. This is possible even in a more “tonal” environment where colors are within a particular color family or range of brightness, as in ‘tones or shades’ of a certain

    type of color. Usually this means something in an earthy palette but technically “tonal” can mean any relatively monochromatic palette.

    EcoHues Fieldstone-and-Pewter

    Neutrals in various hues.

    Introducing textures can provide the dynamic interest and prevent monotony where a more ‘tonal’ palette is preferred.

    With the current trend for using one color–even a white or gray–through the home, you can still keep it interesting with finishes; for example, flat on the wall and ceiling and the same color in a semigloss or even gloss finish on the trim.

    So, think big in the sense of looking at your space from a wide view. It’s not just about deciding what color to paint a wall to be “neutral.” Look at the elements of harmony for a dynamically neutral result.

     


  • About color or not, open your mind to open your eyes

    Are you perhaps one of the many individuals who is “stuck?” That could mean stuck in a pattern of thinking, behavior, reacting and responding…the list is endless.

    I was thinking about this recently and it even applies to color selections. With so many colors to choose from, whether for interior colors, exterior colors, or just new materials, it’s too easy to just revert to what’s comfortable, what we’re used to, and what we know “looks good.”

    On the other hand, there is a lot of stimulation available through examples, options, and advice both valid and incorrect, that can either help focus and crystallize a decision, or can just create more confusion.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    How I personally approach breaking out of a pattern—whether in daily life in general or in my color consulting life, in particular—is pretty simple. A couple things to share at this time:

    1. Get out of the house/office/studio and just take a quick walk. Not a new tip at all…but I like to pick a subject to focus on or observe each time. Something mundane, like Trees, Sidewalk cracks, Smells…you get the idea.
    2. Read a different type of book by a new author, it changes the perspective.
    3. Play a musical instrument from time to time: either an old friend-familiar one, using a different musical style, or something completely different. For example: this summer I went to Fiddle Camp with my son and grandson. That was a new experience – as a classically trained violinist it was a big switch and a great experience! A way to see and hear things anew.

    “Breaking out of the box of off-white” is really just a metaphor for doing something different. Start large, start small, it does not matter. Just Start.

    Enjoy the process; please share your own methods, and let us know how you evolve!

    RE Cert-Vertical-OUTSIDE-DESIGNCONSULT

  • What more is there to say about color?

    So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post here. “Been So Busy…” is what people often say. I guess it’s true that I have ‘been busy.’ But here’s the thing. So much to think about color, so much to say, so little time, and so forth.

    I just decided to Ask! What would you like to hear about?
    It could be one of these topics but feel free to add your own requests!

    • Interior color ideas?
    • Exterior color ideas?
    • Paint or other materials?
    • Color Theory?
    • Client questions?
    • Full Spectrum Paint color questions?
    • Coordinating paint and furnishings?
    • What is supportive color?
    • Applied color psychology?
      …and more?

    My own list of potential posts is much longer than that of course, but sometimes it’s also good to ask for suggestions.

    Let me know, and let’s share some color stories and tips.

    New England Peaches

    Yes, it’s a bowl of peaches!

    Just the image to inspire a dramatic “Fall” palette for interior and exterior house colors.
    Take your pick, and make the most of how you use them.
    Warning: A little bit goes a long way!

    Meanwhile, enjoy the end of Summer. I know I will.


  • What’s here to stay, and here to change? Color Trends. Period.

    Color trends? Here, to stay… and here, to change.
    It’s that time again, Color Trends are all over the place! Most recently, Pantone reports “Emerald Green” as the latest thing. Green is what I call an “available” color, since because it’s right in the middle of the light-wave spectrum it’s a color most comfortably viewed in many instances. It’s mutable and earthy; inspiring of new life, growth, and positive direction. As a paint color, “green” can be flexible in interiors and can be used in many settings.

    Pantone ENERGIZE greens

    The Pantone “Energize” green palette

    Small World, Indeed
    While I don’t have an “emerald green” in the palette, I’ve been delighted to see that many of my own EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint colors  seem to have aligned with some trend colors over the past year. These are from Pantone:

    What’s my own personal opinion?
    While I don’t really have one personal favorite color, I do have a definite point of view. As an architectural color consultant, paint palette designer and rug designer, my viewpoint is threefold.

    First
    My own primary, professional focus as a color consultant is a strong belief in supportive color design. Foremost is function, coupled with aesthetics and, in the homes of individual clients, personal color preferences naturally have a role as well.

    Where function is concerned, color trends are interesting—and of course they are an indicator of products we’ll be seeing going forward. However using a ‘trendy’ color as a selection simply because it’s “hot” or popular does not serve either my client or myself as the consultant. I always take note of trends but no decision or recommendation I’d ever make is trend-driven.

    Second
    As a paint palette designer, I’ve created the EcoHues line of Full Spectrum Paints as a 32-color curated palette that serves a variety of purposes. Because each of our colors has no black or gray—even in our muted ‘neutrals’ or most highly saturated colors—they are easy to decorate with. So, many “trend” colors can create interesting harmonies with these richly-colored full spectrum paints as part of a design plan.

    In creating the palette style and the actual colors, I’ve been influenced by client requests in both commercial and residential settings.  That request is usually in the form of an expressed feeling. The client desires a particular kind of experience.  A typical kind of request is, for example, “I want a relaxing space, a happy, energizing space, and also something that will complement my furnishings.” So, with that as the impetus, the EcoHues palette includes pale to deep stony neutrals; underwater blues; luminous, ethereal sun-filled yellows; antique-flavored greens; bright blues, and richly warm reds and browns evoking exotic sources.

    How do these fit into upcoming trends?
    While I agree with others that we’re influenced by the economy and world events, what I see as important in general is something that’s been happening for a while now:  a resurgence in health and well-being beyond today’s blood pressure. Certainly, the deeper aspect of the experiences that we all desire in our color environments is well beyond the transitory nature of “what’s hot” right now or even for the near future.

    A quick color trend note
    In the world of color and design—in what appeals to us at the deepest level and that will endure well past this year’s colors—is a reference to organic plant and earth sources, natural materials, and textures. As the world becomes culturally smaller and smaller, international flavors will continue in an ongoing appreciation of solid, earthy tones and textures; warm, natural pigment-inspired colors like rusty oranges, paprika and cinnabar reds; brighter, rich hues like Hydrangea and Phoenix Blue, and the deep tones of Mulberry, Nomad and plum.

    More EcoHues colors are represented here, too

    Cultural blending has, in fact, been well underway for some time and will continue to evolve into new and exciting preferences in color combinations and styles. And, in any space or product, surface sheen and texture are important and often dictate a color’s appearance and therefore contribute to our color preferences and uses.

    Third: Home decor follows fashion
    As a rug designer, I incorporate color from an instinctive perspective, starting with what feels right to me from the artistic standpoint. That said, I can of course change colors in any way to suit individuals’ requests. It surprises me sometimes that many of the colors I initially use in my rug designs do show up in a future trend forecast. That is always interesting, and just demonstrates once again that color is universal—and cyclical.

    Pantone "Heritage" palette

    Pantone’s new greens in the Heritage palette can be flexible.

    My basic belief doesn’t just “belong” to me.
    It’s much broader than any individual, and does not depend on color trends at all.
    As humans—without regard to “trends”—we all crave color in myriad varieties of light and bright, muted yet clean, and deep, rich, and dark. It’s all about proportion, balance, and use. I see color trends as something interesting and cyclical, worth observing, with variations in each re-occurrence of a particular color.

    Are you Into Color Trends for your own home, or your business, or just for fun? Visit these places for more inspiration:

    Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paints
    Kate Smith, of Sensational Color
    Color Marketing Group: Where Trends are Defined
    Pantone: a great resource for color information and products

    Change is dynamic. That’s the fascination that keeps us coming back for more! What’s Your “take” on the trends?


  • A Maslow-Inspired Thanksgiving Color Palette

    What are the colors of Thanksgiving?
    So much more than paint, decorating, or  “trend palettes.”
    I wanted to offer some color-reflections for the holiday season, and beyond.

    Maslow's Hierarchy - reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – reinterpreted as Thanksgiving colors

    What’s important?
    Please share your own inspirations and color-reflections!


  • Asking the right questions

    How to listen: Take a tip from Joseph Albers
    Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”

    Among the many “what’s the first step” items in the process of a new client-relationship, asking the right questions is at the top of my list.

    Of course this also goes for any project, even with people we think we know, since each project carries its own set of circumstances. That’s why I love the above statement by Josef Albers.

    Warming up with Red Clay from EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint

    While creatively problem-solving, opportunities to learn—and to teach—abound in every project

    • Help clients discover their own personal design styles
    • Introduce new concepts and ideas
    • Interact with clients in an authentic way
    EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint - Atlantis and Blue Grotto

    “Atlantis,” an EcoHues Full Spectrum color, is on the back wall of dining area and continues into the foyer that is visible from the dining room.

     

    Soft full spectrum colors, kitchen view into family room

    Rich soft colors enhance—and subtly define—three connected spaces, with 3 different close colors.

    One example, from a client’s note to me
    “…you helped take the confusion out of color selection process and opened up our eyes to color choices we never would have thought of using.  We appreciated how easy it was to work with you, and how carefully you listened to our wants and needs.”

    It just takes practice!
    As artists and designers, it’s so easy to become excited about a project and about our own approach and inspirations. The practice is in listening, and advising while not imposing our personal preferences. It’s really all about the goal for every client.

    I’d love to listen. What is your story?


  • Seeing it Anew, for a New Full Spectrum Experience

    Have you ever heard someone say “I can’t believe I never noticed that before?”
    Have you ever said it yourself?

    How many times do we have to see something before we really notice it?
    “IT” could be just about anything, actually, and once you start to think about “IT,” the  list just grows.
    For example:

    • Special People: recognizing, appreciating, not taking them for granted
    • Disorder: Walk into a room you have not been in for a while and see it with new eyes open
    • Color: combinations of color and new ways of seeing what’s familiar
    • Ideas: open your mind, open your heart!
    • And then of course what can follow is “open heart, open mind!”

    What are your recent Openers that you want to share here? Just leave your comment to this post.

    Often we’re simply ‘stuck’ in the place we are. Emotionally, physically, and environmentally—from the perspective of trying to make even a small change. Color and even simple design changes can help to create a full-spectrum life.

    Sometimes an outside view is just what’s needed to reflect and have a new experience.

    Folk Tales of the Amur

    Open up to new experiences, starting with Color!

    If  you want help seeing—and experiencing—your own environment with a new view, just let me know.
    Helping people get ‘un-stuck,’ and evolve through their color and design dilemmas, is my specialty.

    Check out colorful Gift Certificates fo provide a full-spectrum experience for yourself, your family, and friends.


  • Bio-What? Add Nature to your Life and Feel Better Now

    Biophilia.*

    It’s not quite a “household word” yet, but is definitely becoming a regularly accepted fact: including as many references to “nature” as possible—in any kind of space—leads to more healthy living and working environments. How this plays out in a very real, practical way is documented in some very interesting articles.  You might say, it’s  even a matter of common sense—and dollars.

    We humans need to be connected to nature.
    We hear this so much that it borders on sounding trite. But it’s an innate aspect of our biological makeup—we’re “hard-wired” with this need, and it’s a good one. The very real, physical concept of Biophilia brings it into a larger scale of relevance; architectural projects ranging from a variety of workplaces, manufacturing, offices, and especially health care, can reap the largest-scale benefits—from improving their financial conditions to creating more socially healthy civic communities, in general.

    According to a fascinating short article I recently read, * ‘Biophilic Design Could Save Millions of Dollars,’ including more vegetation in cities would visibly reduce crime rates “7 percent,” and subsequently save tremendous amounts of money “in incarceration costs from violent and property crimes.”

    At this point you might be saying…Ok, that’s interesting but “What About Me? What can I do in my own home go introduce a more nature-relevant quality?”

    beach view

    How would you use this image as inspiration for creating your own nature-based color palette?


    Even on a smaller, personal scale

    there’s a huge benefit to creating associations to nature. Whether you have a small rented apartment, or a condo or home of any size that you own, you can really make a difference in the lives of yourself and family members.

    So, on to a few quick comments about using color in your home or workplace, to help introduce some more natural qualities in addition to the houseplants you might already have, and your garden (which are a great start, by the way). We’re back to often-discussed topics included in what I often talk about: Supportive Color Design.

    • Lighting: incorporate as much natural lighting as possible. Be sure to test your paint colors in all available lighting condition in your setting.
    • Color: Specifically the benefits of using Full Spectrum Paint: Eliminate black and gray from your walls. Full spectrum paints using a minimum of 7 tints in each color will get you the closest to the colors of sunlight–at least as close as you can get considering it’s paint.
    • Shapes: Beyond the typical room shapes, look at shapes in nature and see how you can bring those elements into your own home.
    • Space design: Creating a comfortable and supportive interior environment: arrange your furniture and other decorative items in an orderly and balanced way for maximum comfort, taking into consideration their sizes, shapes, and placement in the space.

    From the original article titled “The Economics of Biophilia” prepared by the environmental consulting and strategic planning firm, Terrapin Bright Green,  is this statement by E.O. Wilson, the person who defined Biophilia:

    Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything  else humanity is ever likely to encounter.” – E.O. Wilson, 1984

    Image courtesy of FIGUURA, from the Terrapin Bright Green article.

    How do contemporary designers incorporate Biophilia in their own work? In ways not specifically “interior design” but even in specific products used in interiors. Wall coverings, office cubicle textiles, and the drapes in hospital patients’ rooms are just a few. Textile designer Laura Deubler Mercurio, whose work is shown in the image below, is a long-time colleague of mine through the IACC (International Association of Color Consultants). She is completely involved in Biophilic and fractal design, creating exciting, beautiful and thoughtful designs for woven textiles, that are used in the three types of locations I just mentioned.

    fabric design by Laura Deuble-Mercurio

    Fractal studies have inspired Laura Deubler-Mercurio to design fabrics for hospital use.
    Her textile designs are based on our senses relating to fractal divisions in nature.

    Personally, I’d heard about Biophilia many years ago, and since then that awareness has had a significant connection to my own approach to Supportive Color Design, that applies to interior or exterior color design. Thanks to Eco-Structure.com, a publication of the AIA, for bringing this in-depth article to my attention.

    What you’re reading in this post is intended to encourage you to read the entire, original article that you can download from the Terrapin Bright Green web site.


  • ICFF 2012: Something multicolored, something blue, and many things new.

    It’s not borrowed. It’s multicolored, and it’s sometimes blue.

    Not talking about “June weddings.” In this case, it’s the ICFF show (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). A great place to see international contemporary culture expressed in design. Sometimes reflective of something old, and in many cases something new, and always interesting.

    In any case, I always find this show enjoyable on many levels. Seeing many of the latest new products, color trends and design trends from international designers, and talking with some of them in person, is an experience I find fun and inspiring.

    LIghting at ICFF

    Hand blown glass fixtures - glowing frosty finish

    So, to share just a few of the items that piqued my interest for a number of reasons…
    I enjoyed a brief conversation with Jamie Harris, the artist who created these beautiful hand blown glass light fixtures

    ICFF light

    Hand blown glass fixtures - metallic shimmer

    ICFF lighting

    Sheer color in gorgeous hand blown lighting

     

    Still on the subject of light, check out these amazing solid acrylic tubes. Colors infuse the entire material throughout, and the colors change as you move around the piece according to viewing angles. Even the edges are luminously multicolored

    LED acrlic solid tube

    Walk around and see how the color changes. View 1 of 4

    .ICFF lights

    View 2
    ICFF lighting
    View 3
    ICFF lighting

    View 4

    Imagine the setting for these beautifully sculptural light fixtures.

    Moving along to see some furniture, something I always enjoy.

    glowing furniture

    Fantasy cabinets - one of a few from Boca Do Lobo

    drawers
    It’s not just a stack of sample finishes…Each drawer is an individual, functional drawer.
    unique furniture

    The upper section, and the surface shown below, is beaded by indigenous Huichol people in Mexico. From Espacio Sami Hayek. How do you like the wood?

    Note: the picture on their web site is Not of their ICFF booth…at least not the one I saw there.

    furniture

    Closeup of the artistic detail on this credenza by the same company, Espacio Sami Hayek.

    display booth

    Closeup of a metal wall of a display "booth"

    japanese tetilres

    Something Blue! So very beautiful, and "Wabi-Sabi." Amazing textiles from Kyoto Rakushian

    closeup japanese textiles

    I could not resist sharing a closer view.

    And last, but not least, for now…

    funky furnituire

    Just so we don't get too serious..simple, funky, and having a sense of humor.

    So much to see and enjoy in one day, these are just a few of my favorites.

    Do you have a favorite? If so, which piece–and where would you use it?


  • Color Q & A: Use Deep Color and be Happy

    A question I received recently about using deep color prompted me to share this topic with you. First of all, I’d like to state that Yes, you can be “Happy” using deep colors.

    Q: We recently moved…
    into a new contemporary high-rise home , and ditched all the British colonial/country French stuff. We’re still living with builder’s paint and are getting eager to make a change. We’d like to try something new (maybe charcoal!) but afraid it will end up a somber cave instead of elegant and crisp.

    A: The question of using deep colors…
    always comes with the concern “Won’t it make the space feel small?”  Since there is not one simple answer to this, I wanted to briefly touch on a few ideas about the subject. You might call it “advice on psychology of painting darker colors”—but that has such a formidable sound, I’d rather call it “some tips about using deep colors.”

    Psychological color associations are so interesting. “Darker colors” often are described as serious, depressing, sad, formidable (see above comment), and other similar mood-and-feeling descriptions. The flip side of the description might be “sophisticated, intimate, cozy, meditative, exotic, solid…” and so forth. In other words, there are many ways to look at how we describe and feel about color!

    But psychological associations aside, we have the physical attributes of the space (lighting, room size, wall shapes, ceiling height, floor color and material) and the question of function (what you want to do there)   are all part of the picture and process of choosing the best colors for your needs.

    A few ideas on making a space elegant and crisp using deep colors

    • Deep on the walls and ceiling, bright contrast on the trim.
    • Select brightly colored accessories
    • Use texture and light
    • Use the deep colors of walls as a dramatic background for artwork or collections
    • Use a deep color on an accent wall to extend the view in the room and expand the space.

    EcoHues-FieldPewter
    Deep, earthy EcoHues Full Spectrum – Fieldstone in a very small bedroom, opens to EcoHues Full Spectrum – Pewter on walls and ceiling in the adjacent powder room. Cabinets and lower walls are EcoHues Full Spectrum – Char-Plum Gray.

    deep color bright accent
    Closeup of cabinet in above picture: EcoHues Full Spectrum – CharPlum Gray. Brightly colored glass knobs make the deep color stand out and look even richer.

    Deep Chocolate accent wall in Kitchen Gallery
    Deep color on the walls of this kitchen “gallery” is Chocolate, from Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum paints.

     

    EcoHues-Atlantis
    Deep color again, this one is EcoHues Full Spectrum – Atlantis. Note the wall color is also used on the ceiling in the alcove portion of this space.(below)
    alcove in entry

    Below: Deep on the trim, with contrast color on walls and ceiling (in this case, the ceiling is a soft tinted white)

    . dark trim lighter walls

    Walls are Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum – Mustard Seed. Trim is Benjamin Moore HC-67.

    Do have an experience using deeper colors that you would like to share?

    My goal is to help create the best possible spaces with colors that help you enjoy your life and accomplish what you dream of doing. Let me help you “Get outside the box of off-white with colors for your vibrant life.


  • Linen-weave texture: made a mistake but now corrected

    Silly mistakes will happen. Most recently here: posting something by mistake, then deleting it to try to correct the error, then deciding to re-post.

    This recent post was brought to my attention today by a friendly reader who wrote me an email that the page was no longer available.

    What’s good about that? Now I can make it better.

    What happened?
    I’d posted an image of a decorative finish, a project in which I’d painted a linen-weave strie design in two colors, two layers. The problem was that I’d not included any info on the picture!

    This can be a lovely way to create a hand-painted wall covering, using colors to create depth and interest.

    How you do it
    First layer, apply glaze evenly, blend, then drag vertically with a wallpaper brush. When it’s dry, do the second layer: the same process, different color, drag horizontally.

    Tip
    Tape off vertical sections and work in alternating areas. You will actually save some time because you can use a faster-drying glaze. By the time you work your way around the room you may be able to go back and do the 2nd layer. Granted, this may not work for all sizes and shapes of rooms but it is one way to do this process.

    What’s your experience?
    Have you made tech-errors that were embarrassing? On the other subject, have you tried DIY-decorative finishes that did not work out?


  • Before you shop for a rug, consider this very important issue.

    An area rug can be many things in your decor, and making the decision about which rug to choose from the literally thousands available (and as you know, that’s an understatement) can, in that way, be an experience that resembles selecting paint.

    In choosing an area rug, your main considerations might be your use for the rug, and your budget. Other issues besides cost, color, and design, will include longevity. For some details in a brief “rug primer,” this article in the recent Fabulous Floors Blog will give you some tips to take note of, even before you start to shop for a rug.

    A big part of what’s important in rug selection, however, is the issue of who actually made the rug.  Adults? Slave-labor children? Goodweave.org is making great strides in eliminating child labor in the rug industry; rescuing children from the labor market and providing education and a chance at a higher quality of life. This video is one of three from GoodWeave that addresses that subject.  If it’s something you have never thought about, you may be surprised—so please take a look. Each GoodWeave member pays a portion of your purchase price of a GoodWeave certified rug toward this goal.

    At least, paint does not carry those considerations.  While some of the main issues with paint are comparable: What you need and where you will use it; budget; VOCs and personal health concerns; durability; ease of touch-up; and of course your color choices, that include colors that have black in them, or true Full Spectrum colors with no black and a minimum of seven tints in each!

    But, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed—about either rugs, or paint.

    For a rug, be sure to go to a dealer that carries rugs from GoodWeave suppliers. Each GoodWeave certified rug will have a numbered label. For your dilemmas about paint selections, I am here to help.


Tips and Views on the meaning of cost–and the cost of color.

Integral ColorViews Blog

Color—as a subject for discussion and also as an experience— is fun, exhilarating, fanciful, practical, and always interesting. Color use also has serious aspects. As a colorist, I look forward to sharing a wide range of tips, books, and color-and-design related subjects with you. You're invited to share your own color inspirations!

  • More Palettes – the Many Moods of Summer

    Here it is, only the end of July and yet it almost feels like “Summer” is over. Why is that? Time passes so quickly? Maybe it’s because we’re already seeing Fall fashions.

    But wait, there’s more!’ (ok where have we heard that before?) It is still happening and in a typically glorious way, too.  So, not really after the fact—but rather in reflecting on recent memory both mental and visual—I wanted to present a few color palette ideas based on natural surroundings and a few other things, too. After all, the “Many Moods of Summer” includes a lot! It’s not all sailing, sunny, and roses…we have some moody and darkly mysterious moments also. That’s what adds the dimensional quality, it seems to me. So whether it’s for paint colors interior or exterior,  your home or your workplace, fashion, or just another view of the world, new color  palettes can offer new inspiration.

    Obviously, like many of you I enjoy being inspired by color combinations that occur in nature. After all, that’s where it begins. There is of course the related risk of being redundant, or looking like a ‘copier.’ Yet, that’s not really been a problem for me. I just am inspired by and where inspiration strikes and, while I find it interesting to see what else is ‘out there,’ I’m  not really directed by the colors that others present.

     

    Fresh warmth of yellow roses

    Wake up to the sunny, fresh energy of yellows.

    The perfect range of yellows in golden roses, golden glow.

     

    Striated roses.

    Is this just a local type of rose? I have no idea! But they’re beautiful.

    I’ve never seen these before they popped up in our front yard! They elicit a smile every day.What a pleasure.

    Another viewpoint of rose-inspired colors.

    Another aspect of colors related to the same flowers.

    Same flowers, different interpretation.

     

    Multihued roses

    Translucent, multicolored petals spike the imagination.

    Looking past the most obvious view, the juicy-looking underside of another multicolored rose feels like sunset hues.

    A different view of the same rose

    Yet, such a different view from the top

    View from above, the same brilliant flower!

     

    Look past the subject, include the cool accents.

    Cool accents included

    Balance is key. As with many things, looking past the obvious adds dimension. In this case, it’s adding a little coolness from the surroundings.

    Speaking of dimension and balance, a trip one day to Point Reyes offered this surprise, moody inspiration.

    Peaceful color in Point Reyes

    A softly misty morning has a peaceful quality.

    And night skies provide a different kind of dramatic palette.

    Night time view on the road.

    Dramatic night skies

     

    Beautiful Bark.

    What is this? Bark on a tree. That is…Under the bark, the tree.

    A more “neutral” style of palette is inspired here by the swirling growth patterns of the tree and it’s amazing colors and shapes.

     

    Historic design.

    Antique stencilled wood.

    Pieces of antique wood taken from a historic building. Beautiful stencilled patterns and a lovely color combination that could create a mood that’s festive or calm. In person, of course, it’s even more impressive.

    Back to a favorite place for long walks, this is a peaceful location. The view is from a bridge.

    View from a bridge

    View of this waterway taken from a bridge.

    Similar, but each visit is a unique experience with something different to focus on. How can you not be inspired?

    A different experience

    Every visit to this area provides a different experience.

    Another tree, another world, a completely different look. But that’s no surprise, just inspiring.

    Tree bark

    More Bark!

    Back to the playground!

    Playground structure

    Fun in the Sun at the playground. A very straightforward palette just feels like playing outdoors.

    So, with my usual caveat to not use these color selections as rules, or dictates, or even to recommend using them as you seem them together here, I hope you enjoy the combinations.

    And as always, I invite your comments.


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  • How to choose the right colors! OR: is there a simple way to choose the right colors?

    That’s the question, and it applies to both interiors and exteriors of homes and other buildings.

    What’s the answer?
    I remember reading and enjoying an article in the New York Times from a while ago by one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors, Lee Child, a master in creating compelling characters and situations with a very particular flavor in the “action” genre. If you’re looking for entertaining, fast-paced reading his work is a lot of fun to read.

    His article, “A Simple Way to Create Suspense” is essentially about his own process in creating suspense in his writing.

    How can that idea possibly translate to selecting the best colors for our homes or workplaces?
    Ask yourself the right questions! Since just about every question you can ask about color will have some kind of answer—and ideally help direct you to a useful solution—try starting with these:

    * Where is the place?
    * Is your subject the interior or the exterior?
    * What do you, or others using the space, want to do there?
    * Do you have specific goals, or is the need a more general one?

    But naturally there are some guidelines that will help direct you to the best combinations of colors for your purposes. Qualities of space and use like wall size, texture, lighting (natural and artificial), and surroundings in general are some of the considerations.

    Begin each project by defining a sense of purpose and goal, which is where the questions and the guidelines come in. a client’s personal preferences play a role as well but typically are just part of the picture.  Color trends, while interesting, often inspiring, and fun to follow, really have little to do with arriving at the most effective and supportive color palettes for a specific building or space.

    Colorful Tree House

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The excitement and “suspense” is in the process and the evolution of results; testing accent colors, for example, will lead you to transform a simple, earthy color into an interesting environment. Using colors that are just a little too bright can make a space uncomfortable and stressful instead of  enjoyable and nourishing.  A one-inch color chip is never a reliable indication of a whole room or even one wall!

    Back to the Suspense, in case you want to read the article also!

    So, a few tips
    * Overestimate the impact: Use your favorite super-bright colors as accents in furnishings, accessories, or smaller wall surfaces
    * Textured wall and ceilings tend to “absorb” more color, while smoother surfaces reflect more color.
    * Lighting will affect your results, whether inside or outside. So be sure to see what colors look like in different times of day and evening.|
    * Use less vivid colors for your larger surfaces
    * Consider using the same color on walls and ceilings to minimize distraction, especially in smaller spaces.
    * Remember that your floors are large surface areas so consider floor color, including carpeting, when you’re thinking of wall colors.
    * Exterior: considering the roofing color (I’ll explore this specific subject later in a separate article)
    * Balancing warm and cool colors, and bright and soft colors, is important to create a comfortable and interesting space.

    One of the most important parts of the process is Testing! Use a roller and be sure to apply two coats over primer to get the most accurate color representation, just as you would do when painting your walls.

    Then, Enjoy the Process!
    Send in your own favorite color combinations to share, with a note about the goal and the use.

     


  • ‘Tis the Season—for Nature-Based Spring Color Palettes!

    We can usually agree that “nature” is the best inspiration for inspired color palettes. But that’s a broad topic! So for purposes of this post about color inspirations, I’ll stick to what is right underfoot, literally.

    It seems that every time I go out for a walk—whether to the beach, a local path, just ‘around town,’ or via a sweeping vista of fields—I love to look around with color palettes in mind. This usually involves being inspired to take some pictures and reflect on relative colors and how they might be used. Or, simply, just open my eyes to the color-view that they land on, and just see the objects and landscapes from an abstract, colorist perspective instead of something more literal.

    Starting with something that has a more far-away focus, the sky and land in a sweeping panorama, these two are not the more pastel kinds of colors we typically think of as “Spring.” Yet, there it is…new growth.

    Translated to simpler colors:

    Large field view

    Clouds and ocean beyond the bands of colorful plants.

     

    Color grasses

    A closer view in a similar color range.

     

    new buds and flowers

    New buds and flowers are a little brighter here.

     

    Beautiful colors and textures.

    What a beautiful, bountiful array of colors and textures in this in-ground bouquet.

     

    Tonal Grasses

    Grasses have their own “tonal excitement.” It’s even better when they move in the breeze. The lightest tips are almost iridescent.

     

    Grasses are colorful.

    A few steps down the path, a different color look entirely. Warm and nurturing, earthy colors offer a sense of security at any time of year. The light ochre and ivory in both these grassy colors can be either main color or accent.

     

    beautiful leaves.

    These delightful little leaves are waiting with open arms for the buds to arrive. The soft blue-green and yellow add a fresh, bright appearance that makes this color group a very liveable one.

     

    Buds to become flowers

    Close up, these little buds almost look like mini-succulents.  The soft pinky-coral of the buds makes the green tones stand out even more. The groups of buds will turn into…

     

    White flowers from buds.

    Creamy color of these almost-white flowers! Note the nearby buds. Deep earthy brown; tonal greens; ivory – together make a lovely palette. Pay attention to your proportions and intensity of colors when you actually apply this color group.

     

    Shocking Pink.

    Amid the lower intensity colors, a shock of beautiful pinks wakes up the morning!

    More color palettes to come!

    A note about color use and modification
     I’m not suggesting that you take these palettes literally or try to apply the colors as entire rooms or even walls. Think of them more as an interesting harmony, that you can use in various proportions and even in deeper, or lighter, or brighter versions of the same colors than are shown here. Take the colors from one group and inject one or two from another one. Granted, that takes a different kind of practice but just give it a shot and see what you can come up with to create the feeling that is portrayed.

    Meanwhile, please feel free to submit your comments and pictures of how you might use or have used these types of colors in your own spaces or client projects. I look forward to hearing from you.


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  • What’s it like to do something really different?

    Over the past year a lot has happened. Moving from Massachusetts, where I lived for a very long time, to California–where I’d lived in the past and “Swore” I’d never live there again! (moral: never say “Never!”)  But here I am, and it is like being on a different planet. And actually a good one! I just got back from sitting in with my fiddle (aka violin), with some local bluegrass players in a weekly “jam”—which is informal, and fortunately for me they are very welcoming and patient.

    But what is also really different? Being willing to take the time to actually DO something really different. Over the past number of months, that has been developing a project that started unintentionally from a spark of inspiration, taking on a life of it’s own as I became more deeply engrossed in its evolution. I’ve always done some kind of artwork, all my life. As long as I can remember, that has been an essential part of life—in many forms over the years—whether painting, sewing, textile painting, furniture and wall painting, print design, rug design, and other media.

    In many ways, working in the field of color consulting—which I’ve been doing since 1986—has been an art expression. But it’s been much more about actually helping others, my clients, tap into, and become more confident in, their own expression with color. I always have loved that part of the work. Now, with an expanded focus on my own art work,  I’m enjoying that experience again but in a very different way.

    Sonoma County view.

    Sonoma County mountains and pasture.

    Most recently, relocating here to Northern California, I started drawing.  It sounds simplistic, but what happened was, for me, remarkable. I found that, with an open and relaxed mind, the images that came out were surprising and actually fascinating. I became spellbound by the process.

    What has developed from that experience is the inspiration to do a book. Actually it’s a coloring book. Now, it’s in the final phases and the whole process is much more involved than I imagined when I started with the notion to do it. In fact, the fascinating thing that has come from working on the book is that, while it is a ‘coloring book’ and as such has a great benefit that is very well known for stress relief, I’ve constructed it in a way that will actually help people develop their own sense of colors and how the colors feel to them that is well beyond simply coloring a picture. I’m looking forward to seeing what evolves with it, and to sharing it with you when it’s ready. I will set up a page on this site for the book, also!

    Sonoma County

    In Sonoma County, a view without boundaries.

    The point about this process, that I’ve started to learn from the current experience, is that just being open to something new—without boundaries—is an exciting experience.  Now, you may be someone for whom this is no surprise and who has always just done anything you’ve wanted to do. But I really believe that many people need to have the little “zing” of inspiration that just does not let go, and the exhilarating experience of the creative surge that comes with a new idea that is actually manifested.  I wish I had an easy recipe for that.

    But it boils down to this: take the time to get out of the usual way of doing things; change up the routine; see things with a new eye, and breathe!

    If you have something to share about embarking on a new experience, doing something really different, please share it in a comment.

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  • Color Geography – the anatomy of a long-distance consult project

    How does geographic location affect color choices?
    Even for long-distance color design projects, considering the lighting and the actual location is a “must.” Imagination is part of it, but also local-area images are important, along with the essential client-provided information.

    This is also where a digital image process can be so helpful. It’s a way to virtually see the building as-if it’s already painted with the new colors, using images the client provides. And it’s those images that offer a way to see what the house or other building looks like in it’s own environment.

    One example, a family’s house in Pennsylvania, a 130-year old Queen Anne Victorian. Being in the Boston area at the time, it was not convenient for me to travel to the client’s location, even though this is always an option for the right circumstances. We started with descriptions, my questionnaire about location, site, and lifestyle, and photos provided by the client.

    Existing colors in Pennsylvania

    “Before” colors: Two views, front and side.

    Mical_BEFORE-sideview - Copy

    The project was a bit complex, since there were a number of structures involved: the house itself, a semi-attached garage and carport, other outbuilding, and a tree house. Many siding a trim styles and materials were also involved. Among them were stone, clapboard, shingles; window and door casings; porch floors, ceilings, and railings; trim details. Also some structural items were part of the picture, like gables and bump-outs.

    Because of the structure, the details and materials, we wanted to create a sense of cohesion in a natural style color palette that was fairly simple throughout. The treehouse was the location to incorporate some bright, more whimsical colors.

    View to carport

    View to carport – Before

    Garage view - before

    Garage view – Before

    Working closely, albeit long-distance, there were many communications and visuals back and forth. Color schemes illustrated with the digital image views were offered and responded to by the clients, and it was very much a collaborative process. We worked our way through a few options, any of which could have worked very well.

    Ultimately, the final palette evolved. Paint plan details and final color images presented and affirmed. The clients reported it was also helpful for their painter, who used the color images as a reference, part of their direction for work.

    New colors in Pennsylvania

    After a few variations…New colors are subtle but make a big difference !

    Side view

    New colors – Side view

    New colors tree house.

    Tree house – back side.

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    Colorful Tree House! The kids love it!

    The clients expressed their experience in this way:
    Engaging your services was priceless and the digital renderings are absolutely worth the investment.  We loved seeing what the house would look like before it was even painted.  Our painter has used the image as his own blueprint for painting the house.  It truly is a must-have, and the end product looks practically just like the digital image.  It certainly put a complete end to the debate over colors that we have had as a couple! (Read more from them, and others, here…) Thanks to the clients for providing photos.

    I’ve enjoyed developing this service and the processes involved. Communication has always been an important element in my life, and this mode is just a development of that aspect. So now that I’m based in California, it’s something I can continue to enjoy offering and doing.


  • Tips for Testing – it’s your most important tool before painting

    Have you ever thought about the tools you need for painting?
    Think of testing your paint selections as the most important ‘tool’ in your bag.

    Tips for Testing

    Q: Are you about to make decisions about paint color?

    Q: Painters and designers: Are you about to recommend paint colors for a client?

    Q: How can you make high quality color test samples to help your clients make color decisions?

    You’re a painting professional who has just been asked for the Thousandth time…”how will it look?” Of course you may have even seen the specified color in many other settings over the years—or, perhaps you’ve never seen it yourself in “real life.” Do you have time to test a lot of color swatches for your clients?

    Whether you are doing this yourself or perhaps even suggesting that the homeowner (or other client) do it and let you know what they want to use (and some people will actually want to do this), I’d like to share a few tips that you can recommend, or even use yourself if they are new to you. It’s not “rocket science,” we all know that.

    So, to keep it simple, I recommend starting with the premise that color looks different in all types of lighting and of course throughout the day—and evening—on different surfaces. Color changes in corners, also, as it intensifies where two walls of the same color meet, and it changes in other ways depending on the actual lighting and also when two walls or surfaces (ie: wall and ceiling) of differing colors meet. It’s the angle that does it – whether the typical 90 degrees or something else, as in a vaulted ceiling, and the reflection of light causes the colors to affect each other.

    Therefore, the following apply:
    1. Make the paint test on a moveable and repositionable surface. Something that can be affixed temporarily to any wall, ceiling, or even floor (when you are painting a floor).

    Note: do not use your blue tape on the edges of this! Tape the back side only.

    2. Make the colored surfaces in proportion to each other, for example: Trim colors will usually be narrower than the wall color surfaces.

    3. Be sure the surface you paint the test on is primed, or at least under-painted with a color similar to what you’re testing. For example, you can of course use poster board but since it’s paper, it must be oil-primed so it does not warp. Personally I like the flat-finish, fast drying low odor products for this.

    Note: I’ve typically prepared up to 20 or so poster boards with this type of oil primer, to have ready to go in advance–and easy to use at a moment’s notice–when preparing color tests for clients.

    4. Roll on 2 coats of your finish (test) color, making the application as close to what you intend to do on the final surface. Use a roller with similar pile to what you plan to use on the job.

    5. Use a stable surface with a texture similar to the wall or surface to be painted. IF the target surface is textured, it’s worth it to make a replica since color reacts so differently with the light falling on textured or smooth surfaces.

    6. Be sure to do the test with the same finish you’ll be using on the actual surface (Flat? Eggshell? Semi-or-high-gloss?)

    7. Label your sample cards and cut a nice, smooth-edged one about 8”x8” to leave with the client for their own ‘shopping’ purposes. I find that people appreciate this especially when they are looking at window treatments and furnishings.

    8. OK, so what about materials? I mentioned using wood, (smooth and primed, of course), poster board and foam core (oil prime first), and you can use other substrates like gator board, or drywall (also prime).

    9. But there is also a really easy solution, one that I personally really like to use and always recommend to my clients who want to do the testing themselves: Small Wall. It’s a great surface, prepared for paint (aka No Priming Needed), a 1’x1’ size (2 in a pack), has a re-positionable adhesive strip on on the back, and can be reused, re-painted. You can even cut it with a solid paper cutter, to make smaller pieces, and hole-punch if that’s how you keep color records. I think they also sell contractor packs of 50, which makes it a very easy process. (check out www.mysmallwall for info)

    Interior or exterior, the same process applies. For ext