Monday, November 16, 2009

color your world

i think the colors of the walls around us are so important (as evidenced by the sad, pale pictures of our new apartment, before we moved in). first of all, i think painting at all is a big deal and very important - it means you've taken time to think about your surroundings and what you'd like them to look like. i also think it's about positive self-messaging - you're safe and secure here for a while, and you're worth being surrounded by something pretty and unique. it is your home - your walls, your colors, your choices.

i am so happy we're painting our new place. mitchell was a little less thrilled when we crunched numbers and the resulting sum was mitchell being the painter, but he's happy about it now (right?). it was something we never did in our old house. we thought about it and had paint samples taped to the wall for a little while, but it was eclipsed by other things and never happened. to me, our painting this new space is part of falling in love with a new home and making it our own. my starting point has been the wall-to-wall carpeting i'm so happy to have. it's a medium gray color, and i immediately knew i wanted to work with what was there instead of against it. but when you don't have a jumping-off point, i think a lot of people are lost when it comes to what colors to paint. several readers have written to me about being sick of the idea of neutrals, but don't know what else to do.

of course you can always flip through magazines or think about some of the homes in movies or tv shows you love and work from there - i always think about the fabulous chicago apartment in mind of the married man where each room was painted in a different shade of brown. and you can look at the old paper colordecks and cards, as shown below, but they just don't quite capture what a room in those colors will look like.
well here's another idea - i am loving loving loving the paint color picker tool on the house beautiful website. i remember discovering it several months ago but it was kind of clunky and limited at the time. they've since revamped it, and i am a big fan.

the tool allows you to select one of their 25 "rooms" which feature all kinds of layouts and settings, and then to go through the benjamin moore, valspar and sherwin williams color decks and "paint" the walls, trim, ceiling and accents in whatever colors you want. it would be the most amazing if you could upload a picture of your own room, but maybe that'll be the next generation version. one of the greatest things is how you can get a real gut reaction when you're looking. there were some colors i hated seeing on a wall, and others that i felt buzzy and excited about.

i've found this tool most useful to compare similar colors. for example, i'm deciding on a deep pink/coral for our entryway and kitchen, and this tool helped me narrow it down. i tried out about 25 colors i had scribbled down the names of from shelter mags, recommendations and a quick look through the colordeck at home depot, and the tool allowed me to see that "picante" is too peachy, "mardi gras" is too dusty, and that "fuschine," "poppy," "drop dead gorgeous," and "mediterranean spice," (all from benjamin moore) are the final contenders. now i'll go and get real samples of those and hang them in different spots on the walls in question and eliminate and choose that way.

you have to experiment! click here to get started.

some notes: i recommend making the ceiling and trim white so you can really see the colors you put on the wall (if you use the sliding color chooser at the left of the screen, "anthem white" is the very bottom color). note: remember to select "wall" above the large picture when you're ready to move on.

then play around with different colors. to me, playing with different blacks and almost-blacks is enlightening - you can clearly see how some are more blue, and some are more gray and others are purple. also you can see how some are dead-looking blacks (no offense benji) while others seem to have a depth and richness. it's amazing to see how much more dynamic the colors look in this tool than they do on cards like the ones below.

when i was choosing our living room and bedroom color, (wrought iron, top row, far right above - to see it on a wall, take a peak in the "color preview" deck -- number 2124-10), i wanted the deepest gray possible, but not black - i wanted the darkness but not the deadness of black -- that was my slogan. it's surprising that you can make that distinction from virtually looking at the colors, but somehow it works.

you might find, as i have been finding too, that you get some pretty good color ideas, even if not for now, for later. case in point: i will at some point in my life have a room (even if just a walk-in closet) painted in benjamin moore "magenta" (top row, middle above; to see on a wall, go to color preview colordeck -- number 2077-10).


color sample card from

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