Sunday, June 29, 2008

Understanding Monochromatic Colors

- one color, so many possibilities!

There is a fun experiment to try to get a better understanding of monochromatic colors - this will come in handy when trying a do-it-yourself project such as faux painting.
When choosing colors for a faux finish, I often like to use monochromatic colors as they give you great depth and definition.

Here is an experiment you can try:

First you need some supplies and tools;
• plastic containers ( the ones from take out Chinese work the best)- you will need two
• a few plastic spoons (one for the base color, one for white, one for black and two for mixing - so a total of four would be advised)
• acrylic paints from the craft store work best for this experiment - not the kind in the tubes, they are quite expensive - buy the kind that are used for stenciling, in the plastic containers.
• Pick one base color ( let's say blue)
• also buy a white and a black container of paint

** you can use the latex paints, like the sample colors you are thinking about for the room, if you have them picked out already - but this is just an experiment to give you some experience with tints and shades. Benjamin Moore offers some of their paint collection in sample size containers, which is very helpful when choosing colors for your room.

Now time for the fun!

• Take the two empty containers - be sure they are clean
• Put a few plastic spoonfuls of your base color into each of the two containers
• Add one spoonful white in one container to the original for the lighter version. As you add more white (by the spoonful), you will stir the paint, and see that the color gets lighter -If working with a blue base, the color will start to look like a sky blue, the more white you add.
• In the second container add black to the base color for a darker shade of this color, stir the colors so they are well mixed and you will get a darker shade of the original base - again if working with blue as the base, it will turn to more of a navy blue.
** be careful when adding black as the colors get darker much faster than they got lighter with the addition of white.

When using this experiment for a room where you already picked the color, you should keep track of the formula you have created.
For example: if 3 spoonfuls of your base and 1 spoonful of white bring you to the color you like for the monochromatic palette, then when mixing the larger quantities of paint, you can use this as your formula - 3 to 1 - apply this to quarts - one quart of white to 3 quarts of the base, or on a larger scale in gallons
- it is important to read the labels of the paint to see what kind of coverage you are expected to get, to know how much paint is needed in a room.

Now you have created your monochromatic palette for painting the room. Mixing paints like this is a great exercise in understanding how to create a palette, especially if you are planning to attempt faux painting in the future. Look for more about faux painting in future entries.

Color Schemes

Colors can be combined in many different ways. That's what a color scheme is - any combination of colors. There are four different types of color schemes that you can take advantage of, whether choosing paints or fabrics for your home (or any colors that affect your everyday, such as clothing or make-up).

Let me give you a summary of each color scheme:

Monochromatic- one color along with the tints ( lighter versions) and shades (darker versions) of this one color
Complementary- colors that are opposite on the color wheel - like blue and orange - they work well with each other, whether in the pure state or using tints or shades of each color. Using a complimetary color scheme offers great contrast.
Split complimentary- This is similar to complementary colors in that you use colors that are in contrast with eachother - but here you use two opposites. So for example, if you choose to use blue as your main color in the room, then compliment it with orange/red and orange/ yellow ( or tints or shades of these colors).
Analogous - using colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel; like orange and yellow or blue with green - and all the shades and tints in between the two. This creates a soft palette, a very peaceful color story.

The most popular in my experience are the first two; Monochromatic and Complementary. These are the easiest to understand and from what I have seen, shown the most in decorative home magazines.
When trying to create a monochromatic color story in your room you can choose shades and tints of one color. Take a look back at the color wheel illustration from my earlier post to help you visualize the different schemes. Choose the colors that you like, and see what combinations best suit you.

This is the point in time that most will then ask... where do I start? paint colors? fabrics? furniture?
I say it all depends on what project you are working on, an existing room that needs a "room lift" ? or a brand new space. Obviously if it is a renovation, you need to look at what exists in the room that is not leaving... that you will not replace. Sometimes this makes it easier to pick your paint color palette as you have items that you need to match. For the case that you are starting from scratch, you have the luxury of a clean palette!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Colors make the world go round, like a wheel; a color wheel

As you learned from my earlier post I think it is important that a room speak to you, speak of your mood, and how you want to feel in that room. Colors can make you feel many different emotions; blue as many know is a cool color, one that can soothe you and depending on the shade, can give a room a refreshing feel. Red, a primary color, is a warm, passionate color. I am going to try to help explain all the terms you hear; primary colors, hues, tints, shades, monochromatic schemes and more. Understanding these terms can effect the colors you choose in your home.

Here is a quick lesson in color;
There are three primary colors on the color wheel that make up all other colors;
Red, Blue and Yellow, all are located evenly around a circle, a color wheel.

We all learned this in kindergarten, they do say we learned all we need to know there, so why not this. Remember finger painting? and mixing red with blue to get purple, or yellow with red to produce orange? The main concept is that these three primary colors, when mixed with each other, form secondary colors, when mixed further they make up tertiary colors; all of these colors make up the wonderful spectrum in a coloring box, or now as grown-ups, we more likely think of them as the colors in the paint store.

Quick Color Guide:
Primary colors; red, yellow and blue
Secondary colors; orange, green and purple
Tertiary colors; red/orange, yellow/orange, blue/ green, yellow/ green, blue/violet, red/violet

The primary and secondary colors are hues; pure colors.
• Adding white to any of these colors creates a tint, making the color lighter. For example adding white to red, makes pink.
• Adding black creates a shade, a darker version of the color. For example adding black to green can make it hunter green.
Here is an example using blue as the pure color

There is so much to know about color technically, but don't get blogged down with the details. For you, in your home, you need to decide what colors you like, and then once you have an idea of how you want to feel in a room and the colors you like, you have a jumping off point!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

White is a State of Mind

It all starts with color - colors can affect how you feel, and after all, your home and surroundings should make you feel good, it should be your sanctuary. I believe that when we talk about color, we need to start with light, which would bring us to WHITE. I have a theory, I believe that “white is a state of mind”.

Take a look in any paint fan deck, no matter what brand; there are over 10 whites alone! Let's look at one of my favorite brands, Benjamin Moore- they offer "subtle nuances of white" in their white dove, super white, decorators white, atrium white, white, antique white, linen white, china white and that is just to name a few. They have an entire White and Off-White collection of 140 soft hues with a wide range of whites and off whites. Some are pure white, some have a touch of grey ( Jerry Garcia would love that!), some have peach undertones, or blue. I remember when taking a photography class, one of the assignments was to shoot white eggs on a white background. This meant understanding light, and how to use it - depending on the shadows you would have shades of peach, grey and blue. Now I understand that white is light. It adds a lift and can reflect all the other colors in a room.

Another favorite paint brand for your home is the Donald Kaufman Color Collection. I have found that not many people outside of the design trade know of him. He uses over 12 pigments when mixing his colors. To me he qualifies as designer paint. "The Donald Kaufman Color Collection is known in the decorating trade as the ultimate in designer paint" quoted from The Washington Post, on the Donald Kaufman web site. He offers a beautiful palette, with illuminous colors, ones that add light to your walls. Donald Kaufman's white collection contains 18 different values of white, and they "never add oxides because they diminish the ability of paint to reflect light".

Adding white to a color, any color, cannot only make it lighter, it can make it brighter. White is a wonderful accent for any room. I love to use it on moldings, doors and door frames. When you put it next to a chosen color for the walls, it pops! White gives freshness to a room. White moldings define the parameters of a room – the same white molding throughout a home can be the one color that ties the home together. You can use dark colors in some rooms and light colors in another, but when all the moldings and doors are the same white, it creates continuity throughout the house.

Next time you are in a paint store, browse thru the fan deck to see the possibilities offered in what we call 'white' . I think it will bring a smile to your face after reading this.
The best way to choose which one to use is to determine the feeling you want to have in your home and the colors you may want to surround yourself with. Do you want a pure white or a touch of color? Then choose a white that is most reflective of that!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Welcome to my blog

Who am I? I often wonder myself...
My career has spanned so many different areas, but all had to do with design, in one form or another - being able to see what to do next - in an organizational way as well as trend setting/ forecasting for my positions. I have been able to apply my 'eye' and my knack for color and design to all of the different positions I have had.

For as long as I can remember I have loved design – even when I didn’t know that’s what it was….. I loved coloring, painting and just creating. Throughout school I tried all different forms of art from the basic classes required, to the more technical like photography. I loved to play with light, color to see how different combinations made me feel.On a dreary day bright colors can make you feel happy, brighten your day. Color can be illuminating! As on a cold day, warm colors like reds and browns can make you feel cozy. In college my favorite classes were the three hour art labs, where you would just sit and work, create and learn about art; what it was about, how you can manipulate shapes, light and color to look differently, to create a harmony. Now in my career I am most happy when I am creating; a room for a family, a bedding set design, packaging or showroom design for my employer, or yet another room design in my home. My daughters know that I live to design, so they always want their room renovated, repainted and redone. I will be posting many images of our re-dos for you to see - from little girl to teen, to college adult.

I have always had an eye for design. It seems to come easy to me, at least that is what my family, friends, employers and clients have said. When working on an interior design, I like to understand the person whose home it is, and what they love before I suggest colors or ideas, so that it fits who they are. I do not feel design should define who you are, rather, it is you and your feelings that should define how you design a room; your home. It is important to identify what a room is going to be used for, what your lifestyle is and try to address the needs of each room individually as well as a part of a whole. What are you going to be doing in this room? Who will be using this room? Will it be used to entertain, to relax, to read or to get away from the everyday stresses that life can bring.

To me, although a large budget (and the funds to back it) is always a plus, I have always believed that it is not about what you spend on room, but how you arrange it, what goes into it… from what you own, and what you add to it – you do not always need to spend a lot of money to make a room what you want, or to give you the feeling you want when you spend time in that room.

During my career I have always been involved in design; apparel, interiors, home textiles and gift ware. I believe a person is influenced by their feelings. People reflect their feelings about themselves and their mood at times with how they dress, the colors they choose to wear. Although for many years the apparel business led the fashion world and determined the colors that we would then see months or a year later for our homes, I feel that these two worlds work more simultaneously now than they ever did before. People will fall in love with a scarf, or a leather shoe, and now they want these colors to surround them in their home as well.

There are so many options for your home, many people ask where do I start? I'm going to try on this site to help you with that.... where to start... how to achieve your goals... where to buy great items... how to buy... what to buy... what to look for... how to experiment... questions to ask when hiring a contractor, painter or designer. I hope to shed a little light and some color into your day!