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“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
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
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 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?

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


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, 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.

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.

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.


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.

National Painting Week

Filed under: Blog,Color Trends,Design Trends,Tips — Tags: , , , — Barbara Jacobs @ 5:17 pm

Did you know it’s National Painting Week? 

That’s the story, right from Sherwin Williams Paints.

It’s a great idea, and on their site they offer a number of useful tips that you will find both accessible and easy to do. Perfect for busy people who want to make a big change.

The simple tips they offer are so practical that it’s a great reminder of how easy it is to make a big change with paint.

Among the tips they have put together in a short video:

  • Changing cabinet hardware for a  new look
  • Update light fixtures
  • Painting an easy, creative decorating project like picture frames, a tabletop, or a small piece of furniture
  • Painting an accent wall or ceiling
  • Landscaping suggestions
  • Taking care of exteriors

It’s true that Spring can be just the beginning of an intensive home-decorating and fixup season. Don’t be overwhelmed! Contact me with your request for help on a project of any size. In addition to basic consultation services, our new DesignerColorPalettes  service offers a variety of ways I can help with “virtual painting” of interior colors, and also larger painting projects such as your home’s exterior. Read some comments at our Client Testimonials page.



Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hoffman

Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann brings together the man, the schools, the painting, the ideas, and the teaching. Jed Perl of The New Republic calls this book "enormously important... nothing less than the missing chapter in the history of the period," for Hofmann's decade of painting in Paris prior to World War I, combined with his observations of the masters of all cultures, enabled him to explain Cubism to the avant-garde and catalyzed the later Abstract Expressionism.

In the ateliers of German emigrant Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) in Munich, New York and Provincetown, talented students later to become some of the most significant artists and educators of the time rubbed shoulders with critics, collectors, and curators, who in turn transmitted and transmuted Hofmann s ideas across Europe, America, Canada, and beyond. From how Hofmann taught to what he taught, artists talk shop about the inner workings of the visual language, required reading for those engaged in creative composition, whether visual, verbal, musical, architectural, cinematic, or choreographic.

List Price: $49.95 USD
New From: $32.10 USD In Stock
Used from: $33.09 USD In Stock

“In nature, light creates the color; in the picture, color creates light.”
–Hans Hoffman

Hans Hoffman

More than ‘color inspiration,’ looking to fine art is a dynamic way to experience color. Hans Hoffman exemplifies the word “colorist.” This book offers an in-depth exploration of his theories of color as well as gain as sense of the man—his life, teaching, and art work—in a biography. Also included are many illustrations of work by other artists, some of whom were his students.

Ready for exterior color?

Following the last post here about price of paint and Titanium White (a major ingredient in house paint products) I want to share this article with you.

From the magazine Period Homes, it’s titled “A Primer on Paint,” and offers a detailed view of trends in paint products. It’s not about ‘color trends’ but rather about the actual development of paint products.

It's the pigments that make color visible. Aren't they beautiful? Kremer Pigments manufactures pigments from natural materials to create a wide range of historically authentic paints and finishes. Photo: courtesy of Kremer Pigments.

Major paint and pigment manufacturers are featured, with comments from Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Behr, Fine Paints of Europe, and Kremer Pigments.

If you have been wondering about Waterborne – vs. – Oil based paints, differences in paint qualities, “VOC’s,” and pigments, be sure to read the article. You will also glean a few tips from color consultants James Martin and Barbara Jacobs (Yes, I am honored to be included in this article).

I hope you enjoy reading it, and perusing the magazine, in general.

color design by Barbara Jacobs Color and DesignFrom the Period Homes article: photo by Barbara Jacobs

Do you have a “Period Home?’ What are the joys and challenges?  What do you love the most about it? Let us know about your experience.

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

Color affects your bottom line. Let color work for you in your workplace, your marketing materials, and your products.

Embrace Color with Confidence! Enjoy the process of making interior and exterior color decisions...