Decorating From Scratch-Choosing a Color Palette

I am working with a new client who by choice, has decided to bring absolutely nothing with him to his new home other than his clothes. For some people this would be a dream come true…”Woo Hoo I won the lottery and I am buying everything new!”  For others this would be a horrible nightmare, for example the home owners who lost everything during hurricane Sandy. I thought it might be fun to share with you my decorating process and how I am creating a home for my client starting from scratch.

When decorating from scratch there are two equally important first steps; creating the floor plan and the choosing the color palette. In this case I was asked to begin work on my client’s home before the closing so I was not able to get in and measure for the floor plan for a few weeks so I started with a color palette.

Since I had no inspiration pieces such as art work, carpet or fabrics to pull color from I began by asking my client lots of color preference questions.  His favorite color is Orange and his favorite neutral color is Gray. To get a little more inspiration I spent some time walking around his new town.  Located on the water it is a town with a history rich in both nautical and factory work. I wanted to be sure to honor this in the color pallet I chose for his circa 1850′s home.

newburyport-ma

What colors did I see everywhere I looked? Orange and Gray! Two of my client’s favorite colors. The down town is lined with Orange brick buildings and Gray cobblestones.

Newburyport MA

I also saw lots of deep blues and Navy reflected in the water of the harbor. My palette was chosen. I decided to use a warm Gray as the anchoring neutral with Orange with accents of Navy.

Here is the color pallet I presented to my client which he loved.

We painted the walls of his living room, dining room and kitchen which are all open to one another Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter. I also added a little pop of Orange to the back of his built in bookcases which flank both sides of a window seat. Here is a sneak peak of the built in with the orange on the back and Revere Pewter on the walls.

little pop of orange

 

Before settling on the final color pallet I chose all the fabrics for the window treatments, pillows, and carpet. It is kind of like a puzzle when starting with nothing. For example I found a Gray and Orange fabric I loved then tweaked the Orange to better relate with the fabric. Everything relates to each other and you need to think about not only the room as a whole but the flow of the colors throughout the house. In my next post I will show how I used my color pallet throughout the first floor so that everything flowed and related to one another.

Have you ever decorated from scratch? If so, what inspired you to choose your color palette?

If you would like help decorating from scratch or just getting a better color flow in your home, give me a call.

Don’t Make The Same 3 Color Mistakes I Made.

There is a saying  “you don’t know, what you don’t know”. Many years ago, before I started Design classes, before color blogs, and way before Maria Killam’s True Color Expert class I simply didn’t know what I didn’t know about color. I always had a good eye for color and I was certainly passionate about color but when it came to choosing color for my home I made the same mistakes that I see my clients making today. So in the hope that you will learn from my mishaps I thought it would be helpful to share my three biggest color mistakes of the past.

#1. Choosing Color Out of Context.

paint swatches

Even way back then I knew enough not to chose color from a chip at the paint store. What I would do is bring home samples, paint patches on the wall and then stand back and look until one of the colors screamed the loudest “PICK ME… I’M THE BEST!”  I would make my choice, paint the room, then uncover all my furniture, re-hang the drapes, unroll the rug then stand back and think “humm…I should have picked _______ instead”.

Lesson: You MUST look at the color next to your drapes, behind your furniture and next to your rug. Colors change based on the colors next to them so you can not choose color out of context.

#2. Choosing a Color because it is the “Hot New Color”.

brown living room

circa 2005 brown living room

Remember several years back when you couldn’t pick up a decorating magazine without seeing dark Brown walls (often times paired with Robin’s Egg Blue)? Well I got the brilliant idea of painting my small (poorly lite) North facing living room dark brown…I’m talking Bittersweet Chocolate Brown. By the time I finished painting it was well after midnight and I remember thinking “I hope this looks different (better) in the morning”. I still remember my shock and awe as I came down the stairs the next morning, looked down the bright hallway and saw what I can only describe as a “black hole”. It was terrible. I had not considered the fact that dark brown related to nothing else in my house nor the fact that the rest of my walls were all very pale neutrals. I immediately went down to the basement found an old can of primer and started painting over those dark brown walls while I was still in my pajama’s.

Lesson:No matter what the color trends are you must think about how the color will relate to the rest of the colors and furnishings in your home. Even though Gray has replaced Brown as the “hot new neutral”, if you have absolutely nothing else in your home that will relate to Gray then that may not be the best choice for you.

#3. Choosing a wall color based on a color you saw somewhere else. After finding out the name of a beautiful wall color in a local furniture store I painted a room in my own home the same color. It looked NOTHING like what I had seen in the store. I was sure that either the store owner had told me the wrong color or the paint store had mixed the paint wrong. After much back and forth I discovered the color was correct; it just looked completely different in my house.

The two rooms below are both painted Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter and look how different they look.

rever pewter

walls Revere Pewter: Design by Kate Signer

AM Dolce Vita walls Revere Pewter

walls Revere Pewter: AM Dolce Vita blog

Lesson: (Going back to #1) colors change based on what surrounds them, the lighting in the room, the time of day you look at the color, the direction the room is facing, all sorts of variables. Just because you fall in love with a color you see someplace, don’t assume it will look like that in your home.

How about you? Have you made a mistake with color you can share?

If you would like help with decorating, staging or color give me a call.

LA Bound Courtesy of COLOURlovers

Tomorrow morning I fly from Boston to Los Angles to spend 4 days studying with international Color Guru Leatrice  Eiseman. Leatrice is a world renowned  color titan, the director of the Pantone Color Institute and one of the key people responsible for picking the much anticipated color of the year (Tangerine Tango for 2012).  It has been a dream of mine to attend Leatrice’s class; I own all 5 of her books and often look to her color pallets for inspiration in home interiors.

2 years ago I had the privilege of studying with another Color Expert, Maria Killam. Maria taught us how to choose color correctly by understanding and working with color undertones. I learned about “flow” and how colors should “speak” to one another. It truly changed my business over night and the knowledge I learned from Maria was invaluable. From what I understand, Leatrice’s class goes  more into the psychology of color and how color affects our mood and behavior.

The most exciting part of all this is that I actually won a full scholarship to attend the class. I entered a contest just before Christmas through a web site called COLOURlovers. If you haven’t heard of this site and you love color you MUST check it out. For the contest I  had to upload a color pallet that “spoke to me” and write an essay on how color has impacted my life. This is the pallet I choose along with the photo I took that was my inspiration.

 

COLOURLovers 1st Place Scholarship winner Linda Holt

 

I never imagined that this photo and corresponding  pallet would connect me to such an exciting opportunity and make a dream come true. The competition was fierce so I am shocked and humbled that I won. I’ll be signing off now for a week or so, but when I return I promise to share all my newly gained Color knowledge with you all.

 

 

If you would like  help choosing color, decorating or home staging contact me at 617-965-3342.

My Ben Moore Color Stories-Story.

I first heard rumors that Ben Moore was going to be introducing a new line of full spectrum paint way back last Winter. I asked all three of my local Ben Moore paint stores and not one of them had heard a thing. Then as luck would have it, my blogosphere friend Kelly of Restyling Home by Kelly posted this blog about the paint and the fact that Babels was one of the 5 chosen “test” stores in the US to carry the line. Well hooray for me! Babels is where I bought all my paint before our big move 6 years ago and although Babels is now over an hour from me, I couldn’t get down there fast enough. The trip was not a disappointment. The 200 new colors are absolutely incredible. Being full spectrum they are made without any black or gray so just like other full spectrum paint, the colors are complex, rich and fabulous. The Colors are divided up into color “stories” with names like Urban Casual, Dark Romance, Free Spirited, Enriched, Organic Comfort, Worldly Views and Vintage.  I brought home as many samples as the kind lady would let me and once home, “played” with my colors for hours (only another paint nerd would understand this).

Here is a sample of some of the more deep and intense colors:

Linda Holt Interiors

Linda Holt Interiors photo

and here are some of the beautiful complex neutrals:

Benjamin Moore Color Stories neutrals Linda Holt Interiors

Benjamin Moore Color Stories neutrals Linda Holt Interiors

I was so excited to try out the paint but which color and where???

I was  currently in the middle of making over my dining room ( pictures will come soon) but I had already painted the walls and had just installed these new drapes from West Elm.

West Elm Curtains

 

in this Pear Green Color.

 

Then, while sorting through all my Color Stories samples I noticed this color combination on the cover of a Mark Rothko book that was right in front of me on my desk.  I pulled a beautiful red/orange called Tandoori and put it next to Turkish Bay Leaf (color of  my drapes) and I knew what I wanted to do.

Tandori and Turkish Bay leaf

 

We have a big open hallway with a large window over looking a huge  green tree.  I thought the red/orange color of the Tandoori would be a great way to frame the ever changing art which is the tree itself. The hallway also opens up into my dining room with the Turkish Bay Leaf colored drapes and my living room which is  green and navy blue with small accents of orange.

The paint itself was just as amazing as the colors;  smooth, virtually odorless, and went on beautifully. I am totally in love with Color Stories. Here is the finished hallway. As you can see, I just painted the one back wall to frame the tree. It was difficult to get the impact of the trees coming into the house because of the glare, but trust me, it feels like the trees are right in the hallway.

 

Tandoori from Ben Moore Color Stories

 

The little chest belonged to my Mom, all the framed art on the “gallery wall” was done by my son and my Grandmother made the afghan hanging over the staircase. It’s funny and I just realized it now but  four generations have  contributed  to this hallway decor.

Hope you enjoyed my little Color Stories Story and I hope Color Stories comes to a paint store near you soon!

 

 

If you would like help choosing color or decorating your home, give me a call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting From White….how to choose color for an empty white box

My dear friend Barbara is starting over. For the past 24 years she has lived in the most beautiful 100 year old Craftsman style home. It is meticulously decorated with rich warm colors and it is such a warm and welcoming home. She has filled it with a lifetime of family memories, travel memorabilia, collectibles, and art work.

Her soon to be built new home is an open concept, contemporary penthouse condo just minutes from downtown Boston…completely different from what she currently owns. She is ready for a fresh start, a new look, and is bringing practically nothing from her current home.

She recently asked me to help her pick colors since her contractor is almost ready to paint.

Barbara in her new condo which is currently a white box

Barbara is in the medical profession and has a highly stressful job. She spends her days in white, sterile, operating rooms and does NOT want bright white walls in her new home. She DOES want the same warm and inviting feeling that she has in her current home but she likes the light, open and airy feel of her new home….so, where to begin choosing color?

She is planning to purchase mostly all new furniture and decor for her new home so I didn’t have the usual “go to” items I would usually use for color inspiration such as existing carpet,  fabric or art work.

The kitchen is where color maven Maria Killam advises people to start with color direction in new construction ( look at the counter tops) but Barbara has chosen white cabinetry with white quartz counter tops…okay, not much help here.

A BUNCH more questions and Barbara picks some color inspiration words...Asian inspired, light neutral colors, warm,  pops of red, maybe an accent wall….okay, now we are getting somewhere. Barbara finds an inspiration fabric to work off of….BINGO!     She  has decided to bring two chairs from her current home and have them reupholstered in this beautiful cream and red Asian inspired print. Now I have a starting point.

 

 

 

cream and red Asian inspired fabric

 

Using the creamy background of the fabric as our jumping off point we choose a few soft neutrals as possibilities for the main walls. We also discuss using the warm red of the flowers as a possible accent wall color.

 

 

fabric with color possibilities

 

In the living room there is a free standing wall on the left ( with all the blond wood leaning against it) where we discussed  having some sort of accent or focal wall. The sofa will go against this wall and the two reupholstered chairs will face it. We considered  painting the wall completely red or possibly  having a decorative painter do something creative using the red flower blossoms in the fabric as her inspiration.

location of possible focal or accent wall on left

The next step is to paint up some large sample boards of our chosen colors and see how they look at different times of the day in her condo. My friend is so excited to have a color direction and she can now start to visualize what will soon be a spectacular new home.

 

Next up..the bedrooms!

 



 

 

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