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!

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Tips for selecting the best neutral for your home

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.


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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!


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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.

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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:

Pantonep palette Nonchalance

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.

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.

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
Pantone palette Resiliance

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?

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