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Tips for selecting the best neutral for your home

Filed under: Blog,Color Trends,Monochromatic palette,Tips — Barbara Jacobs @ 7:15 am

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

Filed under: Blog,LifeStyle,Tips — Barbara Jacobs @ 12:16 pm

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?

Filed under: Blog,Color Trends,Design Trends,Psychology of Color,Your Color Questions — Barbara Jacobs @ 9:28 pm

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:

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.

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
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?


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.



I will provide an impartial perspective on your project, helping you create supportive spaces...

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