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.


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.

Do You Agree With America’s Favorite Paint Colors?

The September issue of House Beautiful is out and it features a survey on America’s Color preferences. The magazine surveyed thousands of readers and hundreds of designers and bloggers.  The results revealed (no surprise here) that Blue is America’s favorite color just barely eking out Green which came in a close second. What was surprising (at least to me) was the different color preferences based on region. Below is the map that shows color preferences by regions. (click on the image to make it larger)

House Beautiful Color Map

House Beautiful Preference Color Map

I had no idea such a large part of the country still loves Brown, especially since I live outside of Boston and as you can see New Englander’s evidently like White.  I also was surprised how popular Orange is in the Southeast. I would have guessed they might gravitate toward more of a cool color since according to a friend of mine who lives in the South, this past Summer has been like living on the Sun.

The survey showed that we just love to paint. 77% of readers had either just painted, were currently painting or plan to paint within the next 6 months.

Yellow was the most popular kitchen color with a narrow win over white.

OLD&D Architects

OLD&D Design

Orange is polarizing, it’s the “hot” choice in the Southeast but also the color most people chose as “so over”. Tangerine Tango was  Pantone’s color pick for 2012 so for those that have grown weary of Orange there are just a few more months before a new color will be announced for 2013.

Orange Chairs

Via Pinterest

Green won out as favorite color for a dinning room followed closely by red.

Diamondbarratta Design

Diamond Barratta Design

Blue won hands down as the favorite color for bedrooms by both the readers and the designers. On the west coast Blue bedrooms were favored more than 2 to 1 over green bedrooms.

blue bedroom

via Pinterest

Purple is Hot…35% of Designers said Purple was the hottest color right now.


Via House To Home

The House Beautiful results also showed that our color tastes change as we get older. The over 45 crowd prefered White living rooms while the under 45 group preferred Gray living rooms.

gray living room

Jennifer Brouwer Design

The over 45 group also preferred Green dining rooms and Yellow kitchens while the under 45 group preferred Blue dining rooms and White kitchens.

white kitchen

via Pinterest

I do see in my own Color Consulting business that age does make a difference when choosing color. Most of my younger clients are very into Gray right now, especially for living rooms and family rooms.  However, most of my older clients will have nothing to do with Gray, preferring instead a soft white or beige… Maybe it’s too many bad memories of the 80’s when Gray and Mauve was all the rage.

What’s on the Bloggers radar?  Purple and Green.  Both Purple and Green were voted as the colors to watch for as being the next “Hot” colors….Maybe a hint as to the next Pantone Color of Year??

What do you think of the survey? Do you agree with America’s favorite colors?

If you would like help with decorating or choosing the perfect color for your home give me a call.






Popular Color Myths Busted!

A few weeks ago I received a call from a writer at the Huffington Post. She was interviewing color experts about how different colors affects us.  You can read the article Here.  She asked me if I knew about the study that indicated the color Pink calmed and pacified criminals. Well it so happens that I did know about the study because when I attended Leatrice Eiseman’s color class this past January, she was intent on clearing up several popular color myths. One of these myths is that Pink calms down prisoners.



The (Pink is for girls) color stereotyping began in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s when clothing manufacturers began assigning the color Pink to little girls and the color Blue to little boys. Blue was marketed to boys in order to show support for the soldiers who were marching off to war in blue uniforms. Pink became the default color for girls as it represented softness, sugar and spice.  It was falsely assumed that little boys dressed in Pink would become weak and girly.

As laughable as this all seems today the myth still persists. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona dresses State prisoners in bright pink garb believing they will become passive and cooperative…like girls??  The fact is, this myth has been busted!

What studies show is that when unruly prisoners are put into bright Pink holding cells they do indeed calm down; for about 5 minutes. They are initially surprised and shocked by the unconventional bright Pink color. After a few minutes though the shock value wears off and they return to their original unruly behavior.

Leatrice also busted a few more color myths.

The color Yellow causes babies to cry. This is just plain silly. Long story how this myth was started but it is just simply NOT true.

crying baby wearing Yellow

crying baby wearing Yellow

The color Orange is a cheap color. Back in the 50’s ans 60’s  Orange was perceived as a “cheap” color but this is certainly not true today. This year Orange has reached it’s highest form of respect by being named Pantone’s 2012 color of the year.



The color BLUE should never be used in a kitchen or around food. This myth says we loose our appetite around the color blue. …REALLY??  I don’t know about you but I sure think I could eat in this kitchen.

Blue Kitchen by Diamondbarratta Design

Blue Kitchen by Diamondbarratta Design

or this beautiful turquoise one designed by Tobi Fairley.

Tobi Fairley

Tobi Fairley kitchen

So how about you?  Have you heard any of these color myths?  Did you believe they were true?

I Spy Tangerine Tango

I am fresh back from a trip to NYC with a few girlfriends. Although the weather could have better (it rained for most of our trip) I was thrilled to get to the city and see all the new trends. As far as fashion, I will say that every single woman under the age of  about 70 was in boots….yes, every single one! Since I knew we would be walking for hours and hours every day (and the boots I currently own are not all that comfortable) I felt like a freak in my “walking shoes”. I did however buy a great pair of boots while there and now I just have to break them in.

statute of Liberty

Although we did see the new 911 memorial, this trip was primarily about shopping. We hit all the big name designer stores and I finally made it to ABC Carpet which I have wanted to go to for ages. Guess what I saw in all the stores and the store windows? Bright, bold, happy colors. Bright colors in clothing, bright colors in home furnishings and brightly colored accessories.


One color which I saw everywhere was Pantone’s color of the year, Tangerine Tango. I thought it would be fun to share  a few of my “I Spy Tangerine Tango” images from  NYC.

Hermes window

Hermes Window

pillows at ABC Carpet

 Pillows at ABC Carpet

Window display on Broadway


The window above and the one below were across the street from one another.


window on Broadway



 carpet in Etro blog

Carpet in Etro Store

orange plates at Chic Home

Orange plate at Chic Home

orange clothing on 5th Ave.


orange clothing in window on 5th Ave.


Lastly……My absolutely favorite orange “I Spy” item is below. ….ahhh  be still my heart!

orange sofa in Safavieh window

 orange sofa in Safavieh window



So how about you? Do you love Pantone’s color of the year as much as I do?

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