Jan 18, 2006

Colour palette perfection

By: Liza Finlay

Colour palette perfection Author: Style At Home

Jan 18, 2006

Colour palette perfection

By: Liza Finlay
“Which do you like better, Malaysian Mist or Samoan Sand?”

“Hmm. I like Samoan Sand, but Malaysian Mist has that nice sheen.”

“Or I could go for something completely different, like Far East Fuchsia. What do you think?”

You hold a bottle and an unpainted toe up to the light.

“Definitely, Far East Fuchsia,” your trusty pedicurist replies.

Choosing just the right colour, whether it's covering one-square-inch of toenail or 500-square-feet of wall space, is a challenge, primarily because there are just so many colours to choose from. Where do you start?

Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman, interior designers and co-hosts of Designer Guys on HGTV, make it easy. “Mood, match, sample,” is the mantra they've created to make the process of selecting just the right wall colour an easy one. “Just keep saying that to yourself-mood, match, sample. It's that easy.” Well okay then, here goes.

The first order of business when choosing colour is to stop thinking and start daydreaming. Before you do anything, determine the mood you hope to strike in the room.

All colours can be categorized as either warm or cool and by determining which of these overall moods you wish to create, you can effectively edit your options by half. Warm colours are any that incorporate hints of red or yellow, while cool colours have blue or violet undertones.

Next, says Steven, “find a family of colours you are drawn to, choosing from either pastel tones, earth tones or jewel tones. Within each of those shade ranges there will be warm and cool choices.”

Image courtesy of Pottery Barn


You wouldn't match your nail colour to your eyeliner, so don't try to make your walls complement your candle collection. Ideally, the colour on the walls should exist harmoniously with the largest pieces in the room. Make sure the colour you select for the walls works well with the shades in the carpet. For that matter, limit your paint options to only those shades that match favourably with most of your big-ticket items, including the sofa, broadloom and window coverings. While repainting is no treat, it is less expensive than redecorating around the beautiful shade of teal you chose for the walls.

You've set a mood, matched your preliminary selections to your existing furnishings and you're ready to paint. “Wait!” says Chris. “Before you do anything, sample, sample, sample and then sample again.”

“Never trust a paint chip,” adds Steven. It takes a little extra time, but in the long-term you'll net savings in both money and labour if you test your colour theories before painting the room. Purchase a quart of your favourite shade and paint a sample-preferably a piece of plywood or even cardboard that you can move around the room.

“Colours will change drastically from day to night and in various types of lighting,” says Chris. “So move the sample around.”

And make it count. Paint a large (24-inch by 24-inch) sample so that you get a true feeling for the colour. After all, you'll have to live with this.

Colour psychology 101
Psychologists have determined that certain colours can actually elicit typical, physiological responses. What mood will your favourite colour incite?

Red, and red-based shades like burgundy excite the senses. Scientists say our hearts beat faster when we see red.

Blue is the colour of tranquillity, with research telling us that the sight of blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals.

Green, the colour of nature, is known to calm and refresh the spirit.

Yellow not only speeds the metabolism, it also enhances concentration, which is perhaps why legal pads are yellow.

Purple, the colour of wealth and status, is also know to inspire imagination. Wagner composed his operas in a purple room as violet was the colour he found most inspiring.

Image courtesy of Pottery Barn



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Colour palette perfection