“Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.” – Oscar WildeBy Christine Tuttle
I hear that most homeowners are afraid of color. They dip their toe into making a change by courageously adding colored pillows to a space, but that really isn’t a big enough commitment to make a true impact. Wall color – be it a painted wall or wall covering – is probably the quickest change to any space and has the single most profound influence on the feel of any space. A few cans of paint, or an armful of rolls of wallpaper, can transform a room.
Color is also something we have the biggest reaction to, and we all have strong likes or dislikes, so getting color just right is often the part of interior design that stymies most homeowners. Success is a question of scale (pattern or surface area) and tone (the amount of saturated color).
Taking all of the room elements into consideration is the best starting point. First, natural light, and the direction in which your room faces, is one of the most important factors in choosing a wall color. North facing rooms often seem to lack warmth so finding a rich, warm based color, with a yellow undertone, will artificially compensate for cool light. Spaces with a south facing aspect, and abundant daylight, can usually handle cooler tones and lighter colors – like blues, greys, and off-whites.
Other factors to consider are what large areas of color existing in a room will impact your walls: adjacent dark wood paneling is a color, warm reddish or golden floorboards are a color, a tinted ceiling is a color, or something that takes up a large amount of visual and actual space, like a sofa, is a color.
I have my own tried and true wall colors that seem to work in almost any space. For taupe-y greys I love Revere Pewter or Bennington Gray by Benjamin Moore; for an interesting mid-tone blue I adore Blue Gray by Farrow & Ball that will read gray, blue, or green depending on the light. For a great warm buff yellow, I prefer Farrow’s Cream by Farrow & Ball.
But confidently veering towards a bolder look, in some recent projects the clients wanted strong colors. Two reds I have recently used in Dining Rooms are Habenero Pepper and China Red by Benjamin Moore – the former in a midcentury modern space, the latter in a transitional room.
Professional designers can advise on color, but the specialists at a local paint store also see trends and what colors are being mixed by the designers, so use them as a resource. A great professional painter is worth his weight in gold and will tell you what they’ve used successfully within each color family.