Inside design: Jane Hall
Jane Hall lives and dreams in full Technicolor. Her business name sums it up nicely: Jane Hall It's All About Colour. Jane, an advocate for the boutique paint line C2 Collections of Colour (distributed across North America by independent dealers), started out as a visual artist and frequently found herself advising clients on what colour to paint the walls behind her canvases. In the 1990s, she began painting fabrics and creating her now-signature line of painted furnishings. In 2001, she opened a full-service interior decorating business, and from her downtown Toronto storefront she guides clients through colour, fabric and furniture choices. STYLE AT HOME asked Jane to share her expertise on bringing the best of colour into our homes.
S@H: It seems to us that lots of people want to bring colour into their homes, but few have actually taken a chance and done it. Would you agree?
JH: Yes. I gave a speech a few months ago, and I asked the audience to raise their hands if they like colour in their homes – 75 per cent raised their hands. Yet when I asked how many actually had colour in their homes, only 20 per cent raised their hands. It's odd to me that we fly to the Caribbean, buy expensive coffee table books, take photos of bright objects because we're drawn to their colour, and then paint our homes taupe. I hate taupe – a mixture of brown, black and white – it's like living inside a dead mushroom! Most people are just so deathly afraid of making a mistake.
S@H: But a lot of people do make mistakes with colour. What are some of the most common?
JH: Part of the problem is that there are these mythologies around colour, like painting a small room a dark colour will make it appear smaller. I can tell you right now that painting a closet white is not going to make that closet appear any bigger. Now, how you light the room will make a difference in the perceptible size. If you have a solitary 16-watt bulb illuminating a darkly painted room, then, yes, it will look closed in. But light it well, and the room will open up and bring the colour to life.
Another myth is that a colour will get darker once painted on the walls. Most people will get a paint sample strip with, say, six or eight tones on it, choose the colour they really like and then buy one tone lighter. In my experience, the truth is that paint colours get lighter once on a wall, and that surprises most people. So many people paint a room, are dissatisfied with the results and then say, “But this isn't the colour I chose.” I'll hold up the sample, which is an exact match, and tell them, “No, it's just not the colour you wanted.”
S@H: So how do we ensure that we get the colour we want?
JH: It doesn't need to be all that complicated. You walk into most paint stores and find yourself surrounded by 6,000 colour choices. Of those, there are really only about 250 that you need to consider. But which 250? The first step is to know what you like, which sounds easy, but you'd be surprised. For example, you tell me you like yellow – but which yellow? There are bright, lemony, almost neon yellows, and then there are earthy yellows. In order to put together a palette, you have to understand undertones and value. The undertone can be either warm or cool, and the value refers to the strength, or saturation, of the colour. What you want to do is create groupings that share the same undertone and value. A warm yellow works well with a warm orangey red but doesn't coexist harmoniously with a cool blue red.
S@H: That's pretty technical. But you have an easier way of guiding people in colour choices, don't you?
JH: Yes. Colours have unique characters. What I do is group colours by themes, according to their attributes. Some shades are playful, others powerful or elegant or tranquil. You need to first determine which of those attributes you're most drawn to, and then you can narrow your search down to the specific shades that create that feeling.
S@H: But most of us have multifaceted personalities. What if we're drawn to more than one colour family?
JH: First off, most people are drawn to shades that share very similar undertones, whether warm or cool, so going from one colour to another isn't a problem. Really, any time there's a jog in the wall there's an opportunity to change the colour – within the same colour family. I advise people to use hallways to bridge from one colour to another. That way, you can play around with colour and truly express yourself. That's the only way that you can really take emotional possession of your space. And, ultimately, that's what we all want to do, isn't it?