Beige and Confused: Explore if and how your interior décor could benefit from a boost of color
Sep 07, 2016 02:14PM ● Published by Arden Haley
Often I hear folks comment, “I’m scared of color,” or “My whole house is white—I wouldn’t know where to start.” Oh, and my favorite, “All my furniture is tan and brown—you know, I’m keeping it neutral.” Neutral? Sure...keeping it neutral…and boring. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a monochromatically-designed chic-space as much as the next designer, but let’s be clear, there is a significant difference between an all-white room that is going for that “Scandinavian Mid-Century Mod-look” and a room that just screams asylum. Let’s dig a bit deeper: is there another color in your home besides brown and/or tan—perhaps you’re calling it taupe, cream, or off-white? All of these “colors” are code for safe and the diagnosis is dull and dingy with a serious case of CDD…Color Deficit Disorder. But don’t panic, I have several solutions. Consider me your design doctor and therapy is now in session. Let’s consider the following case studies.
CASE STUDY: Don’t Know Where to Begin
SOLUTION: Color by Numbers
Sometimes, it is so elementary in the design world. For example, we love to have things appear in threes, especially color. And like with most things in design, it isn’t by chance. The way the human eye works when we walk into a space is that it connects through repetition. This creates a sense of cohesion and reason; in most cases, seeing the same thing three times, triggers that connection and harmony.
The trick here is to choose a neutral base (not to be confused with a whole neutral ROOM), layered with an element of color evenly used throughout the space. HUH? Simply put: say you have a white sofa (THE NEUTRAL) with a complementing accented blue wall as the back-drop (COLOR REPEAT 1), layered by shades of blue pillows (COLOR REPEAT 2), and all effortlessly layered over an abstract blue-tone rug (COLOR REPEAT 3) to ground the space, creating a harmonious design! Simple—and methodically easy as 1, 2, 3!
CASE STUDY: Afraid of Color
SOLUTION: Go With the Flow
Color and Commitment—these two C-words aren't just synonymous with rating the quality of a diamond. Quite the contrary. Both seem so permanent, so much, and so now to those unsure of which colors to commit to. In a perfect world, ideal colors would fall out of the sky, do a dance with a paintbrush all over your home, and give you the color story of your dreams. But we all know better—not going to happen. Let the colors start to find you. Pay attention to your everyday natural settings. What better way to face your color commitment fears? When you walk through a store, does that purple bag catch your eye? Flip through a magazine and that yellow car jumps off the page. It’s like the Freudian-slip in the world of color. Your color preferences have always been there, you just need to coax them out.
Once you figure out the color you’re gravitating toward the most, the next step is to gradually introduce it into your home—a candle...then a maybe a vase...bedsheets...a small ottoman. You’ll naturally move in the direction of your color without having to try so hard. Before you know it, you’ll be sitting peacefully in that purple (or was it yellow?) chair.
Or, consider your love for basketball. Maybe, you really enjoy how jeans look and feel on you. Inspiration can come from anything, anywhere. Turn that vibrant orange leather ball color into an inviting sofa—or bring the favorite pair of blue jeans to your walls in rich color. It’s all right in front of you, just take the time to pay attention.
CASE STUDY: Want to Create A Mood
SOLUTION: Focus On Your Feelings
There is actual scientific evidence proving that color affects mood. In laymen’s terms: different colors equals different moods. The brain responds naturally when it is exposed to color; so, the room and feeling you want to promote determines the color you should consider highlighting. And as much as it might make sense to assume that whichever color you personally prefer will give others the same feeling, this is often not the case. Take, for example, a rather common favorite color…red. Well, pump your brakes Valentine before you select that persimmon couch. Have you ever noticed how all the big fast-food chains’ colors are hues of reds, yellows, and oranges? Well this isn’t by coincidence—years of research indicates these colors evoke hunger. So ask yourself, “How do I want to feel in this space? Relaxed? Calm? Happy? Hungry?” There’s a psychological approach to keep in mind when choosing colors. Do yourself a favor and research how color influences moods and feelings before putting paint to wall.
CASE STUDY: Fear of Rejection
SOLUTION: Nobody’s Perfect
What’s considered the number one design nightmare? A color not working out! You slaved, researched, pondered, prayed, gave a sacrificial offering to the color gods—and then it happens, you regret your color choice. But what do you do? Regress back to step one and deny ever having color in your house again? No, of course not. Advice: sleep on it. Change can initially feel overwhelming and cause adverse reactions but, just like medicine, sometimes the benefits outweigh the side effects. Accepting new is difficult—not to mention, there’s always that voice of buyer’s remorse. I say, turn down the volume on that voice in your head and take some time before changing your mind.
Walls can be painted over, and sofas can be returned, re-covered, replaced, or, worse case, re-sold. The point is, it can be fixed; there are options toward resolution. So save your receipts and try, try again. I actually appreciate mistakes—I believe mistakes are your subconscious trying to come out. Nine times out of ten, the color you’ve been denying, but cannot get away from, is really the color for you.