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Style Magazine

A New Hue

Sep 22, 2009 12:45PM ● By Wendy Sipple

Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann once said, “It is not the form that dictates the color, but the color that brings out the form.”

While Mr. Hofmann was likely referring to art with this statement, it’s fair to say the same can be said for interior design. Typically, when I walk into a room, the first thing I notice is color – on the walls, in the furniture pieces and the accents. We all have individual reactions to color, whether they be appeasing, appalling or somewhere in between. The challenge with incorporating color into a living space is finding the right shade (or shades) that work with the overall picture you’re hoping to create. Undoubtedly, you’ve encountered several rooms where color choice either electrified the space or, less desirably, created an eyesore. Even a color you might find quite fetching, may not be another’s cup of tea. Face it, you can’t please everyone, but you can avoid some major pitfalls by introducing a new hue to your home.

Survey the Space

The room is your canvas, use it wisely. First, consider where you want color. On the walls? Only some walls? On the trim? On the ceiling? In the furniture or accents? Our gut instinct tells us to bring out the paint roller and give the four corners a few coats of one, dominant color. While this may work for some spaces, it might not work for all. Consider a progression of shades or some stunning contrasts. Also, pay attention to lighting in the room, for example, a dimly lit space might benefit from a lighter color over a darker one.

A colleague recently pointed out an important consideration – choosing a color palette compatible with the style of home. She overheard a friend admiring the warm, Tuscan tones of a neighbor’s Mediterranean villa and how she was considering adding a few of those rich colors to her Cape Cod-style bungalow. A decision my colleague suggested she reconsider, with good reason. We’re bound to find a variety of color schemes we find appealing and would like to somehow translate into our own spaces. Just keep in mind the original spirit of the architecture and style before cracking open paint cans.

Color Swatches

I could spend hours at the hardware store paint counter. The options are endless! Those pretty swatches are also a useful way to introduce a color to a space before making a commitment. When prepping a room for a color makeover, I like to take a few options home with me and tape them to the walls in various spots as so to capture the light at different times of the day. That glow of the paint counter at Home Depot may not translate to your naturally lit bedroom at high noon. Sit with your choices for a couple days and try mixing and matching trim colors with your wall options. Remember the paint you choose may dry slightly different, so prepare for a lighter or darker shade than you imagined from the swatch.

Wall to Wall?

While a wall might seem like the obvious choice for your new color placement, it need not be the only option. There are other elements that can benefit from a splash of color, such as ceilings, alcoves, doors and trims. In fact, you don’t even need a drop of paint to achieve the color you seek. Simply introducing a new sofa cover, a few pillows, vases, rugs or new art can instantly add color to a space. Plus, there’s the added benefit of swapping them out for a fresh scheme without ever unrolling a drop cloth!