Choosing interior paint colors can often be quite daunting and time consuming, especially for large jobs where several colors need to complement one another both within a given space and from room to room. Color selection is a design skill that grows with experience, but here are a few tips for clients and designers alike that can help make the color selection process more enjoyable and rewarding:
- Pictures say more than words - use photos from magazines or websites to help define preferred colors. Photos can spark ideas and can help you quickly zero in on likes and dislikes. Also, most shelter magazines often list the actual colors used in featured interiors, so you can easily identify colors that appeal to you.
- Use your surroundings as a reference point – tie your interior colors to the colors of your outdoor surroundings (blues and greens for an ocean-side vacation home, for instance).
- Create a "color family" – choose colors that relate to well to one another and that create a unified package. To help create these color families, select colors from fabrics, wallpapers or rugs that appeal to you. For example: earth tones, neutrals, sunny citrus colors, and cool blues and greens.
- After colors have been previewed on a color fan and choices have been narrowed down, large color samples from paint companies such as Benjamin Moore can be very helpful when making final color selections.
- Visualize the colors you've selected in their respective areas – posting large paint color samples on the walls can help with this. See if you like the way colors flow and relate to one another from room to room.
- Purchase small cups of selected paint colors and actually try them out. Lighting plays a huge role in the actual finished results and perceptions, so make sure you evaluate your color tests under different lighting (evening, daylight, dimmed lights, etc.)
To Illustrate the concept of "color families", I've provided some fabric sample photos from the Greenhouse Fabrics website
. From left to right, we have earth tones, neutrals, sunny citrusy colors, and cool blues and greens.
New construction projects and home renovation projects frequently include hardwood floors, and it seems that there are so many more wood flooring options out there now compared to 10 or 20 years ago! Traditionally, "site finished" projects would involve the selection of a wood species, a stain color, and a finish (typically, high gloss vs. satin).
It was fun to go to a job site, meet the old school flooring master, and mix up different colors of Minwax stains to arrive at a special, custom finish for a client's home. (Minwax
features a great range of stain colors to choose from and is a prominent industry standard for wood stains.) Between wood installation, sanding, staining and finishing, the whole process for site finished wood flooring can take several days.
Site finished floors are still a popular and reliable way to go, especially in traditional settings. Today, however, there are numerous selections available for designers and clients to consider. In addition to site finished hardwood flooring, options include:
Pre finished – Solid wood that is factory sanded, stained and finished, providing durability, consistency and ease of installation. Pre finished floors offer many options for texture and width, as well as stain color.
Engineered – Factory finished, constructed in ply fashion similar to that of common plywood with an actual hardwood veneer on the surface, commonly called the wear layer. The wear layer will offer options in wood type and stain/coloration, and can be sanded or refinished if thick enough.
Laminate – Economical option with a wide array of choices in terms of wood species representation and color. Laminate has come a long way!
Bamboo – Environmentally friendly, durable, with many options for products and installation.
Depending upon the setting, desired durability, and budget, terrific solutions can be found with each of the above flooring options.
Helpful resources for hardwood, laminate, and bamboo include: