I thought I would start a series on random design tips and opinions. Please remember these are just opinions.
First up, paint colors.
1) If you have a home with gorgeous architectural detail, let the wall color be secondary. Celebrate the fact that you have beautiful mouldings, smooth plastered walls, unique nooks, coved ceilings, etc. The color on the walls should highlight not compete with your homes beautiful architecture. Conversely, if you live in a mass produced suburban home (like mine), use color to jazz up the joint! Use paint color to create architectural interest. I have much more intense and dramatic color in my house than I would normally pick if it weren’t for my home’s lack of architectural character.
2) Don’t pick paint colors first, pick them last! This is the opposite of how every homeowner I have ever met approaches this subject. Every design client I have has wanted to start with paint color. Please if you stop reading here, remember this one thing….pick paint last. Pick the rug, pick the sofa, pick the bedding. It is easy to select a paint color to match to a fabric, but a pain in the neck (sometimes impossible) to find a sofa or rug to match the wall color. In fact, many times you will end up getting something you don’t really love just because it works with the paint or end up repainting after the other decisions have been made. Just because paint is your least expensive, most dramatic and easiest home improvement, doesn’t mean it should be the first.
3) Select a “core color” for the public spaces of your house and design rooms around them. In my house I have a nice caramel-y color in the entry way, living room, dining room, kitchen, stair well, etc. These are all adjoining spaces/walls, so for continuity, one color is required. While there are exceptions, this should be a neutral. Chose this color carefully, you’re gonna see a lot of it, and it sets the tone, intensity and palette for the rest of the house. The caramel has been on the walls at my house for 6 years or so. While it could use to be touched up and I wouldn’t mind if I came home tomorrow and it was magically gray instead, it still works. I have tweaked a few colors in other rooms and have plans to do more. Having this core color really makes the adjustments easy, I simply select a few swatches that are in the color family I like and go with the other materials in the room (see #2 above) and then ensure the selected color goes with the core color.
4) My last little hint is about how to pick colors with longevity. If you want to paint a room and not have to change anything for a very long time, pick something from the paint manufacturers line of historical colors. Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Farrow and Ball all have a line of historical colors. These colors are colors with some staying power, with out the weird undertones of trendy colors (ie. you won’t find 70’s avocado green in these selections). Additionally, if you live in a house with a specific historical style, you get big bonus points from me if you pick a color with historical reference from that period.
I have drafts of may other random design tips and opinions, but I would love your ideas for topics. Please feel free to comment on what I said above or with ideas about what I should be opinionated about next.