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We all have our own personal taste when it comes to color. Some people are drawn to bright, bold colors while others prefer softer, calmer colors. While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning. This month, we celebrate National Color Therapy Month, and we are all encouraged to take a closer look at how color affects our mood.
Let’s start with the basics of color. In 1666, English scientist Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all of the visible colors, meaning color is simply light of varying wavelengths and frequencies.
Colors can be classified as “warm” or “cool.” Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.
Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.
Ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, practiced chromotherapy (also referred to as light therapy), or using colors to heal. Chromotherapy is still used today as a holistic or alternative treatment.
In this treatment, Red was used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation. Yellow was thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body. Orange was used to heal the lungs and to increase energy levels. Blue was believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain. Indigo shades were thought to alleviate skin problems.
A new year means a fresh start – and a fresh look at interior design trends!
First, let’s talk color, since color influence just about everything in design. Continue to look for greys to dominate the neutral category, but now it’s all about the accent colors. Mustard, tangerine, plum and deep turquoise all stand out beautifully when paired with a grey neutral.
Warm metals are also on-trend for 2012. Instead of bright, shiny metal, look for warm tones of gold and bronze. These metals have a softer look and play well with the color palette for 2012.
Art takes on a more dimensional look in 2012 with wall sculptures. This trend is a nice break from flat art pieces. But keep in mind that you don’t need to put wall sculptures in every wall in your house. Just a couple pieces here and there will add enough variety and interest.
For more information on color trends for 2012, take a look at the Color Guild Colour Canvas 2012 collection.
The style of a home often determines the colors that are appropriate for that home design. Melding the style of a home with colors that are authentic reinforces the intended aesthetic. Use this guide to help make a color selection using the Color Guild’s Color Is palette.
Ranch: The most common US design during the 50′s and 60′s that evolved into the split level and tri-level. Common color palettes include beiges like 205 Wood Shadow and all manner of whites, such as 011 Sugar Dust. Brown trim is very common. Dress up a Ranch with a bright Red front door such as 1095 Empower.
- Mediterranean: This style is more common in warmer climates such as the Southwest and western US as well as South and Central American regions. Stucco is a common substrate for this style and warm colors that coordinate with terra cotta roof tiles are predominant, such as 0238 Crowned One and 1008 Mango Tango.
- Craftsman or Arts and Crafts: This style was popular in the 1930′s and is enjoying a revival in an updated version. Colors for that reflect this style are earthy such as 0415 French Pear and 0345 Travertine Path.
- Colonial: This historic style can be found all over the US but especially in the Northeast. Cooler colors are commonly found on this style, such as grays 0531 Snowglory and dusty blue 0504 Indian Tears. Shutters finish the design in black 0515 Silent Sea.
- Cape Cod: This coastal design is reminiscent of cottages by the sea and the colors fit that style, weathered and muted. 0541 Smoky Tone and 0503 Water Droplet fit the Cape Cod style.
- Victorian: True to the history of the Victorian colors are often bright and complex combinations. Often homeowners choose to use an updated palette of colors that include neutral body colors like 0573 Chintz with accents of plums 1290 Violet Vibes and 0428 Lucky Day.
I have had the pleasure of judging the Chicago Paint and Coatings Painted Ladies contest for the last 17 years. For the most part the homes themselves have remained the same while the colors that adorn them have changed quite a bit. Each has a unique look, some have been refurbished and many have interesting stories about how they were painted. The contest is open to non professional and the more common professional painters. But it is the stories from the non professional homeowners that interest me. Of course you hear the stories of near divorces, financial issues and even some broken bones, but all it all the contestants say it was worth the time and expense.
Please open this PDF to see the beautiful Painted Ladies of Chicago!Â Click Here
I thought it would be interesting to talk about the colors on the homes and why it made them winners. The first house as far as Victorians go is a simpler one. It is painted in medium lavender with a similar value of gray and large trim in white. This alone would make it a monochromatic except that it also has a small band of deep green as a complement. I think it is beautiful in its simplicity; it is not daring as far as Victorians go, but it does stand out in its neighborhood as a gentle lady. (Picture 1)
Home #2 has some interesting levels and trim that were highlighted with a deeper shade of beige with the body in medium value beige.Â The small details were painted in several bright colors that coordinate with the simple beige of the exterior.
Home #3 has a real presence with its large wraparound porch and beautiful turrets. It is also painted in medium Lavender with white trim. The corbels and fascia detail include a shade of gray to tie them into the roof color and highlight them.
Home #4 uses a complementary color scheme of various shades of orange and peach with a soft green body color and deeper version as trim on the windows. A bright yellow orange highlights the upper most peak with small detail painted to add to the festive palette. This home stands proud in its urban neighborhood.
House #5 is the brightest combination of colors in the contest. It has a unique blend of bright blue green with deep red and yellow accents. The white background makes the trim colors stand out and underscore the size of the home and its grand entrance.
House #6 is a more subdued combination of colors. A deep slate blue on the upper story contrasts against the deep rose o the bottom. A sunburst shape accent at the peak of the house is painted in alternate hues as a decoration.
House #7 is the only brick home in the contest. It is a bed and breakfast with more rooms than most Victorians. It is painted a simple shade of cream with white trim that minimizes its size. There are small details near the roofline and around some windows in rust and deep moss green.
House #8 has accents around the windows in two colors to accentuate those details. The body is in a muted green and a lighter muted green. There are also details in the pillars that were painted in the brighter orange and red orange.
House #9 is not even a house, it is a train station. The green gray appearance of the roof is highlighted by the red shade beiges and browns on the building itself. The complementary color scheme is perfect for the quaint, in service rail stop.
The last photo is of a gazebo that has an interesting story. It was salvaged from a burned out church and moved to the residence; a painted ladies winner in a past year. The homeowner painted it in his garage only to find out he couldnâ€™t get it out and had to cut it in half. It was raised by a crane to the rooftop and is painted in a whimsical pattern of oranges, plums and browns befitting its storied history.
This yearâ€™s contest had more green and orange combinations than in the past and less pink than I had seen in years.Â Of course, these homes do not have to follow and rules of color or are they judged for authenticity as that is not the goal. We look for homes that use paint to beautify and the craftsmanship of the painters. If a customer wants to make a statement this is a perfect place to start.
Beige is a best selling color, and to stretch its reach even farther you can include off white as a pale version of beige. Not only is it a best seller in interior colors but also in exterior colors. Its scope extends from the rich tones of tan to the grayed nuances of taupe. Beige is not a color family, only a tone in the family of Orange. Its big brother Brown is the darkest value of that tone and it is also a winner in the marketplace, enjoying a revival as of late. So what is the mysterious allure of beige? Why does it play such a key role in decorating today?
There are a number of reasons why we are inundated with beige. First of all it is a neutral, a color that plays well with others and is a great companion. In the scheme of things it is in the correct hemisphere, the warm side of the color world. Warm colors outsell cool colors by quite a large margin. They are comforting and offer refuge from an over colorful world. Color love comes from a memory of things that are pleasant, familiar and predictable. Our minds make connections with colors we see around us every day, such as our natural surroundings and objects we love and cherish. We see these warm tone colors in the trees around us, the earth beneath our feet and in the wildlife we cherish. So as humans we have a strong connection to this color family and it translates into big sales in a broad range of products from carpet to siding and from low end to high end. It looks good on flat surfaces such as walls and on textured surfaces like carpet. It is rich as a best selling metallic or pearl of automobile finishes and even on plastic wastebaskets. How can they possibly make it look fashionable and new?
Tone on tone neutrals can suggest a rich, luxurious look. High end fabrics made of silk, wool and cashmere can add ambiance to a humbleÂ color like beige. Pair that with our memories of the familiar and it doubles its power. In todayâ€™s economy beige is a proven winner as it can live a long time in a home environment. It is easy to punch it up with a broad range of accents, both warm and cool, giving it an even longer life.
I used to call beige a chicken color, not the color of a chicken but a color for people who were too chicken to pick a more colorful hue. I take my words back, easy or not, beige is where its at!
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