Finding Pleasing Colors The procedure of picking paint colors for your home may seem totally subjective--you simply pick the colors you like. That is merely partly true. Although it makes sense to start out with the colors you prefer, other elements come into play. For example, do the colors you've picked work well alongside one another? Do they work with furnishing, carpeting, and draperies already in use? Picking paint colors is really part art and part science. Let's start with the science part first.
Using the Color Wheel The color wheel arranges the color spectrum in a circle. It is a good way to see which colors work very well together. It includes primary colors (red, blue, and yellow), secondary colors (green, orange, violet), and tertiary colors (red-blue, blue-red, etc). Secondary colors are made by mixing two primaries together, such as blue and yellow to make green. A primary color such as blue and a secondary color such as green can be combined to make a tertiary color--in this case, turquoise.
Now that you've got a color wheel in front of you, put it to use to help you envision certain color combinations. An analogous plan involves neighboring colors that share an underlying hue.
Complementary colors lie opposing one another on the color wheel and often work well in concert. For instance a red and green living room in full strength might be hard to stomach, but look at a rosy pink room with sage green accents. Similar complements in differing intensities can make attractive, soothing combinations. A dual complementary color scheme involves yet another set of opposites, such as green-blue and red-orange.
Alternatively, you might go with a monochromatic scheme that involves using one color in a number of intensities. This ensures a harmonious color design. When creating a monochromatic scheme, lean toward several tints or several shades, but avoid way too many contrasting values, that is, combinations of tints and shades. This can make your plan look uneven.
If you want a more complex palette of three or even more colors, look at the triads formed by three equidistant colors, such as red/yellow/blue or green/purple/orange. A split complement is composed of three colors- one primary or intermediate and two colors on either side of its opposing side of the wheel. For example, rather than teaming purple with yellow, change the mixture to purple with orange-yellow and yellow-green.
Last but not least, four colors equally spaced about the wheel, such as yellow/green/purple/red, form a tetrad. If such combinations sound somewhat like Technicolor, remember that colors intended for interiors are hardly ever undiluted. Thus yellowish might be cream; blue-purple, a dark eggplant; and orange-red, a muted terra-cotta or whisper-pale peach. With less jargon, the color combinations fall into these two basic camps:
Harmonious or analogous; schemes, derived from neighboring colors on the wheel less than halfway around.
Contrasting or complementary; techniques, derived from colors that are directly opposite on the wheel.
Color Schemes for the Interior Don't just choose one color; think in terms of deciding on a color structure. Review your furniture, curtains, window treatments, and carpets and rugs, and take note of which colors might match them.
Next, make note of just how many colors you think you might be using. Will the baseboards be considered a different color than the walls? They usually are unless the trim is in bad shape and you do not want to call attention to it. Similarly it is true of other trim, such as window casings and seat rail.
How about the area where the walls meet up with the ceiling? Will you install crown molding or various other kind of cornice treatment there? Or will you be painting the walls and demarcating the ceiling and wall junction with a color change?
In addition to paint colors, you'll also need to determine the level of finish or sheen the paint will have. The choices range from the most shiny (high gloss and semi-gloss) to the dullest (eggshell and flat). These designations change with paint suppliers, but they are essential because the sheen of paint affects the color. A guideline states that walls usually get flat or eggshell finishes whereas ceilings are almost invariably coated with a flat finish. Trim is normally decorated with a semi-gloss or high gloss. These finishes are stronger and better to clean than duller finishes.
Think in terms of groups of colors.
Paint manufacturers group like colors together like below:
Color Chips for Interior Walls All paint stores can offer color chips of the paints they sell. Color chips will provide you with a small scale idea of what the actual colors will look like once applied. You need to do more than look at color chips to obtain a true sense of your colors... nevertheless they are a good place to start. Actually, a seasoned sales person at your neighborhood paint store can help you decide on color chips in a scheme. If you choose a buttercup yellow for the walls, the sales person can suggest color chips that are usually associated with a design that has buttercup yellow as its anchor color.
When you have whittled down your color alternatives, go through the color chips or swatches in several types of light including day light at different times of the day and in varying degrees of artificial light. Even then, this color chip process is just to get a concept of paints that you will sample in bigger swaths of color. Very few professional designers pick from chips, even though they may start their color selection from chips. If they do examine chips, they examine them individually on a white background.
Color Changes Take into account that large surface areas make any paint color appear darker than the color chip. The amount of variance is usually up to two shades. In the event that you pick the color chip you desire, step "back" two shades darker for a genuine representation of what the color will look like when dried out. Also, paint always appears darker once it dries. So, when you finally apply the paint, don't stress if the color doesn't look right at first. Hold out until it dries.
If you are zeroing in on your final colors, paint a 2 x 3 ft. poster board or cloth with the anchor color and stick it around the house so as to visualize it in different light and near different colored carpeting and rugs and furniture.
Size and Color Colors make a difference how you perceive the size of a room. Warm colors like reds, yellows, and oranges will make a space seem smaller because they provide a cozy feeling to the area. The so called cool colors like blues and greens may actually recede from you, making a room appear bigger than it truly is. If you really want to make an area seem large go with a vintage standby such as a shade of white (there are dozens) or a neutral color.
Estimating Room Size As you get closer to buying paint, determine the square footage of the area you will paint. Multiply the length of each wall by the width. Subtract the space occupied by the entry doors, glass windows, and other openings. Add every one of the measurements together to get a total square footage of the area you must paint. If you're applying two layers which is normal for some paint jobs, you'll be painting the surface twice.
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