The great fashion designer Coco Chanel once said that "The Best Color in the World is the One That Looks Good on You". OK. So why is that the hook on this blog post about interior decoration?
There is actually a very close correlation between Chanel's quotation and where you should start when selecting color for your own home. But we DON'T necessarily mean that you should be using color in your home because it looks good when you wear it.
We are simply suggesting that in the same way you know what colors look good on you, you should also develop an awareness for what colors you prefer in architecture and interiors. I have found that most of my clients struggle when it comes to identifying their personal preferences for color in home interiors.
Indulge me for a moment - visualize or actually sit in a room in your home. Now, ask yourself the question "What is the most important thing in this room"? Now, you could tell me that its the view, the colors, or the closeness of the furniture grouping, or the heirloom piece of furniture, or perhaps its the artwork, or the wonderful quality of light filtered through the trees outside.
Any of the above could well be true, but the single most important thing in the room is YOU.
OK we hope you don't mind being called a 'thing'. But you see, what I find many of my clients forget when they are designing their space - and including choosing colors for that space - is that before they start anything or look anywhere else for design/color inspiration you need to start with who the room is being designed for, and have a fairly good idea of the color's which are most appreciated by that person(s).
While there are other factors that must come into consideration when selecting color schemes, such as the orientation of the room, the architectural style of the home and the context in which it is situated (inner city, suburbs or country acreage), the starting point should always be to identify personal preferences and let the other factors be considered secondary to that.
If its your home and your room, then start by assessing your own personal likes and dislikes when it comes to style or color. You can go to websites, social media, magazines or other sources for inspiration but if you don't have a system to 'filter' what you are seeing and clearly identify the specific elements that you are drawn to in the images, it could make you more confused than when you started.
So how do you develop a filtering system? Here are some things that will help you be focused while doing this. While looking at an image, answer the following questions. It is NOT important at this stage what the style of the room is that you are looking at; For example, you may see an image of a very sleek contemporary interior which you like even although you would not be that contemporary in your own home. Likewise you might gravitate to an image of a particularly charming traditionally styled interior. For this exercise the style of the interior is of secondary importance.
1. When looking at the image, try to define in one or two words how it makes you FEEL. We are emotional creatures and how we feel when we look at an image of an appealing interior resonates throughout our entire physiology. The space you are looking at must inspire you to WANT to be there, and in order for it to accomplish this effect, it had to first create a feeling in you. What is that feeling?
2. Now, attempt to isolate and identify the colors in the space. This is more than just the paint color. Start by identifying the predominant colors on walls, floors, ceilings, then identify colors on furnishings, window coverings, and accessories.
3. Note how the blend of colors has been balanced. Specifically identify the predominant color and the secondary colors and accent colors.
4. If you have a paint fan to hand, find some colors that are approximately similar to the ones you have identified in #2. You are not using the paint fan at this point to select paint colors, you are simply using it as a tool to look at all the colors identified in #2 and isolate them so that the colors no longer are identified with the image.
5. Do the paint colors you just isolated match the feeling you identified in #1? If they do match that feeling, and if those colors do indeed appeal to you (in isolation from the style of the room you saw in the magazine/internet image) then you can be fairly certain that this palette of color represents at least some of your own personal preferences.
Repeat the excercise for a number of images and then compare the color palettes you isolated. Is there a similar theme running through them all, or is there a variety of themes? Most of us will identify a variety of different themes, with a majority of them being similar and a lesser amount of them being quite different. This could be referred to as your primary and secondary color palette preferences.
Be assured that its perfectly fine to like colors and/or styles which are quite different from one another. However it can be tricky to know how to take all of this new-found information and make it useful.
The trick is in knowing how to filter it down to the next level so that you can begin to narrow down to make color choices which would be most appropriate for the space you are planning to decorate.
That's where the secondary 'filters' come into play; the architectural style of your home, the orientation of the room(s) in question, the function of that room, and the geographical location (context) of the home. But we're not going into that in this blog post because that would take too long. Sorry!! ; ) See our previous postings on selection of color based on room orientations. We'll get to a blog about colors based on architectural styles and geographical context soon!
This 'filtering process' is kind of like a funnel where the top is wider, and then it narrows towards the bottom. At the top of the filtering funnel are your personal preferences, then come all of the secondary filters until eventually you have narrowed down all of your color selections so that what pops out the bottom is a beautiful color scheme perfectly suited to you and your home.
If you want more assistance in defining your personal preferences I suggest you try this website which has a fun color assessment exercise you can do. This excercise helps you identify your dominant and secondary preferences and gives you a written description which helps you understand the concept, mood and feeling which your specific color preference is derived from. My clients find it to be fairly accurate. Please try it and let me know your feedback on closely you feel it reflects your personal preferences. http://www.voiceofcolor.com/en/colorsensegame/index.asp
Kevin Gray is a residential interiors specialist, who has more than 20 years experience in the interior and architectural design industry.