An article I wrote for the KC Star on the daunting subject of Color!
Color has been the subject of numerous books, articles, seminars and TV shows. It is the thing most people I help with interior design fret about, and understandably so. There are so many opinions, options, ideas and theories on the subject.
Color can elicit strong emotions and feelings. Most cultures place significance or associations on certain colors. Color psychology is even its own discipline and is defined as "the effect of the electro-magnetic radiation of light on human mood and behavior." The definition goes on further to say that there is a difference between color psychology and color symbolism (the conscious associations we are conditioned to make with color).
Scientifically, color is an energy, and its physical effect has been proven in studies. Because of the electro-magnetic radiation given off by color wavelengths, blind people can amazingly identify color with their fingertips. Another study done in the 1970s found that independently there are no objectively wrong colors; rather it is the combination of colors that triggers a response.
I mention this only to showcase how complex choosing a color scheme is for interiors, marketing and advertising, or fashion. Every designer has his or her own method for tackling color. I love the legendary British designer David Hicks’ cutthroat approach:
"Too much time is wasted, too many thoughts expounded, too much nonsense talked, too many rules adhered to and endless energy put into deciding what colour will go with what other colour."
Admittedly, sometimes I agree. But on the other hand, when I choose a color scheme for a client, I put a lot of thought and time into the final decisions.
Here is where I would like to note that designers do not carry a magic wand, so that when they walk into a space, a color immediately presents itself as the solution. Quite the contrary is true for a well-thought-out and livable color scheme.
The major factors I take into consideration when creating a color scheme are these:
1) The profile of those using the space, how it will be used and the desired mood to be created.
2) The type of sunlight the space gets and opportunities for artificial lighting.
3) The other non-changing elements in the room: flooring, cabinetry, trim work, etc.
Then I ask: How do I want the space to feel, and what colors will look great on those living there? I perform a dance with the colors and textures, a back and forth of testing different combinations until I have narrowed down my selection.
Lastly I ask: How can I get away with creating a scheme that is beautiful and timeless yet not boring and predictable? Creating tension between different elements in the room will keep things from becoming obsolete. When I put time and thought into my selections, my ideas evolve, guaranteeing that they do not become stale.
If you have ever struggled with color, you are not alone. Even professionals with a well-trained eye can end up making adjustments along the way. Try not to get caught up in trends. Your home and the colors you use in it should make you happy and be a reflection of your personal style
This presentation board illustrates a color & design scheme for 1 room. The color scheme alone took nearly 6 hours to conceptualize.