I have heard my clients and friends say many times, that when it comes to selecting an appropriate colour palette for their home they just don't know where to start. Many of them say they want colour, while others prefer more neutral schemes. They all have one thing in common: their senses are barraged on a regular basis with TV programs, social media and magazines all touting great ideas. But most people find the onslaught overwhelming and in many cases they find it more difficult to make a decision because there are simply too many sources screaming for attention.
Here are four simple exercises to help you focus on what is right for you;
1. do the online color sense game.
For clients who are really stumped as to their own personal colour preferences when it comes to their home interiors, I often have them complete an online colour game which was created by Pittsburgh Paints. Its called The Voice Of Color, Color Sense Game. Click on the link below to access the game. My clients have found that it usually is very close to accurate. The game takes about 15 to 20 minutes maximum and can be a real time and money saver, by helping you make more informed and confident choices regarding colour in your own home which is more aligned with your personal preferences. We highly recommend that you do this game first, then proceed to create an actual color palette using the techniques suggested in item 2 through 4. If you have a significant other, it is a good idea to have them complete the game too so you can compare the similarities and differences between your personal colour preferences.
2. find inspiration in nature
The next time you are out in the great outdoors, take a look at what's around you. It could be as simple as observing the different colors in a pile of fallen leaves, or as grand an expansive mountain vista with lake, trees, rocks and sky all presenting a perfect combination that could create a color scheme. For example:
The image to the left was taken by yours truly while on a trip to Yellowstone National Park. The photographic composition is nothing to write home about, but it has particular resonance for me because I like earthy colors. So, when you are looking for inspiration from nature, pay attention to what you are drawn to and how it makes you feel. From the image to the left, you could extract a color palette as shown below.
First, start by pulling out the obvious colors like the murky neutral of the water, the pale off-white of the steam, and a green representing the grass (but does not have to be literally the exact shade as seen in nature). Notice how there are more than one color within the dirt - this means you can pull out at least three tones that represent tones in the dirt as shown below. Imagine using this palette as follows: pick a hardwood or tile for your floors that approximates the colour of the redder 'earth' tone, then use the mid-tone 'earth' tone for the walls, use the lighter earth tone for the baseboards and casings, paint the ceiling in the same colour, use the murky grey water tone on an upholstered sofa, and use a combination of the green and off white as cushions on the sofa or in an accent chair.
3. Let simple Objects inspire
Don't underestimate the value a simple object can have to inspire your color genie. It could be as humble as a piece of fruit on which there are particularly attractive color markings, or it could be a man-made object such as your grandmothers hand painted teapot. Whatever it is you extract the color in the same way as described in #2 above. So the colors you extract from a pear might look like this: (image sourced at design-seeds.com)
To apply the 'pear' color palette to a room, might look something like this: Interior Styling by Kevin Gray Interiors
4. Look at photos of completed rooms
Some of the best 'go to' sources for color inspiration is to find images of completed rooms that already exist. My clients find this gives them the best idea of how their ideas might look in their own home. But BE CAREFUL! When you look at images of completed rooms you need to be able to 'filter' what you are seeing to make sure you know whether you are responding primarily to the color palette, or whether you are responding to other elements in the room, such as architectural or furniture styles, the views from the room and/or natural light entering the space. For this exercise we recommend that you do NOT look at images of completed rooms until you have a very clear understanding of what your color preferences are (as per the Color Sense Game). Otherwise you might 'like' so many different images which contain a huge variation in styles and colors that you are no further forward in defining your preference and might even become more confused than when you started.
If you are about to start work with an interior designer or decorator they will be able to help you define your preferences, but even they need guidance from you because we can't design with you in mind unless you have some reference point for your preferences. Some of the best online sources include www.houzz.com and www.pinterest.com. Check out our Kevin Gray Interiors Houzz and Pinterest pages as follows, and enjoy your journey of color inspiration! If in doubt, consider investing in the services of a reputable designer/decorator; it will be money well spent and can add value to your home while enhancing your experience of living!
Kevin Gray is a residential interiors specialist, who has more than 20 years experience in the interior and architectural design industry.