Lesson 1: Decorating With Color
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Flooring & Color
Floors can add quite a bit of color to a room. A natural slate floor
has countless colors in it, yet it is till considered a neutral because the colors
are so muted that you can put almost any other color with it and it still looks great.
The floor is the foundation and base for an entire room and its furnishings. It is always wise to use a more neutral colored flooring for the simple reason that it creates a foundation for everything else. Remember, even a forest green or a muted blue can be considered neutral if muted enough. Kelly green or sky blue are not. If you decide to change your color scheme in a few years, it will be easier to work around a neutralized color floor. Don't feel you have to remain neutral with area rugs though. These are easily moved and replaced with another in a different style or color if you want to change the room. To make your house appear more spacious and less choppy, select one color of carpet or flooring to go throughout your entire home. This is another reason to go with a neutralized color on the floor so that each room's color scheme and home decor will complement it.
Ceramic tile floors will last for many years, so it is usually safer to go with a neutral or classic color that enables you to easily change the color scheme of the room in the future. You can help to make your tile flooring safer by selecting a floor tile with a slip-resistance surface.
Walls & Color
Walls are an extremely important part of a room. The color or pattern you use on the walls can easily become the dominant part of a room, because of the large amount of space covered. Decide if you want the pattern in a room to be on the walls, the furniture, a rug, or a lavish window treatment. Typically, two very bold patterns in one space will fight each other and will not create a harmonious room.
When you think of color on the walls, don't rule out all the possibilities for your home decor. You can expand the feel of a room and add architectural interest to a plain room by adding a mural to the space, such as the tree and faux stone door molding added to the kitchen wall below.
Flaws in the wall can be disguised (or, unfortunately, can be amplified) depending on the sheen of the wall finish. The flatter or more matte the finish, the less the flaws in the plaster or drywall will show. If there are quite a few bumps or ridges in your dry wall surface, you should go with a flat or satin finish, avoiding any shine. Flat and matte paints also allow furniture and wall decorations to become the focal points in the room.
Entrances, foyers, guest baths and corridors are transitional parts of the house, and those walls can be bolder or darker than areas in which you spend a great deal of time. A bolder or darker color will also help a small space make a bigger visual impact.
If you have a dark room that doesn't receive much sunlight, paint the walls in a light color satin or semi-gloss paint. The reflective surface, along with a lighter color, will reflect more light into the room.
Ceilings & Color
There are many ways to alter the perception of the height of a room. Home decor does reach to the ceiling! Ceilings have traditionally been painted white to create an illusion of more height. However, if you do not want more height, then consider painting the ceiling a darker color. Always paint the ceiling before the walls. If you paint the walls first, it is extremely hard to keep ceiling drips and splatters off of the wall surface.
In a child's room, it is a nice touch to paint the ceiling in a deeper color. This will make the ceiling seem lower and the room will be a more intimate space for a child. Consider painting a faux sky or cloud effect on one of your ceilings. This paint technique is especially nice in bathrooms and bedrooms.
If you have a low ceiling you would like to visually lift, paint the wall from floor to ceiling in one color. If there is a chair rail or dado, use the same color or pattern on the wall above and below the molding and paint the chair rail in a color close to the wall color. If there is large crown molding, you can paint or stain it the same color as the wall which will also make the room appear to have more height.
Window Treatments & Color
If you have a beautiful view, use window treatments to frame the view,
without covering it up. Similar to how you would frame a work of art.
Windows are a natural focal point in a room and an important part of your home decor. Depending on your furniture arrangement, window location or view from the window, you may want to either enhance the window as a focal point or have it blend into the background of the room.
Don't ignore the view, light or the colors in nature your home receives from windows and skylights. These magnificent features that windows provide in a room should affect the color and window treatment choices you make for your home decor.
If you have multiple layers on your windows consisting of sheers, draperies and top treatments, you can downplay the proportions and significance of the window by allowing all layers to be of the same color. To make the window a focal point, use contrasting colors on the different layers.
If you choose to have the window treatment blend in with the room's decor, the fabric color should be close to the same color as the wall surrounding the window. This will also help to make the room visually larger, because the wall will be an unbroken, continuous color, even with an elaborate window treatment.
Regardless of the color of your drapery fabric, always use a white or ivory drapery lining. This will assure that the windows blend with each other on the exterior of your home. Even colored window blinds can give your home an inconsistent appearance on the outside.
Before purchasing sheers, you should do the following to view their true color, which may be hidden. Roll the sheer fabric up in a ball, this will show the precise color of the material. Ivory sheers can have a hidden warm or a cool undertone color that will become more obvious once hanging.
Furniture & Color
Don't be afraid to mix furniture styles and finishes within one room or space. Most homes that are expensively decorated do not have matching pieces of furniture, but have unique pieces that compliment each other. An eclectic design style may seem to some as the easiest style to pull off, because anything goes. To others, a traditional room is the simplest, because there are rules and guidelines to follow. Whatever your style of home decor, the following tips on using color on furniture will help you make decisions.
For seating, a textured or patterned upholstery is best to hide soil and can also pull together your color scheme. However, a solid color or small print upholstery will make the room look larger. Small patterns and muted colors on furniture will create a more restful environment, while bold patterns and vivid colors will create a room full of energy.
Furniture that is upholstered in dark colors, heavy textured fabric or skirted with fabric will look more massive and can crowd a small room. Furniture in light colors, smooth textures and exposed legs will tend to give even a small room a light, airy appearance.
If you would love a white sofa, but have small children or pets that make it impractical, use white accent pillows and throws on a neutral beige sofa instead.
All the wood on furniture in one room does not have to match exactly, in fact, it usually looks more interesting to have a mix of woods and stains. Just make sure the woods undertones complement each other. The orange undertones of oak next to the burgundy undertones of mahogany may not blend well to your eye.
Open Floor Plans & Color
Many homes built in the last few years are designed with open floor plans. An open floor plan usually involves a great room or living area, that is open to the kitchen and dining room. Often, open floor plans can create a problem in selecting a color scheme, because one room flows into the other. If you do have an open floor plan, you'll want to make sure that all areas flow well aesthetically, which can be difficult. There are several things you can do to create uniformity while allowing each room to have its own unique personality.
You don't have to use the same color throughout, but do choose a color scheme that you enjoy and use it in the entire open area, changing the dominant, secondary, and accent colors to give distinction to each space. Use paint or apply wallcovering on the walls in each area with a different color within the pallet. For instance, the kitchen could be a light beige, the dining room a rich bronze and the living room a shade between the two. Just find a natural transition point, such as a corner, to vary the color of the walls. A long straight wall, without a natural transition, will look awkward in two different colors or textures and is best kept one color. However, if there is a horizontal break (such as a chair rail) the colors and/or textures can be different above and below the chair rail.
There are a few details that you will want to pay attention to in order to retain flow in an open floor plan. Have all trim work painted or stained the same color and the flooring should remain close to the same color if you cannot continue the same floor in all open areas. For instance, if the living room has a light beige carpet and the dining room has a wood floor, it would look best to have a light wood floor as opposed to a dark wood floor.
A consistency in the style and mounting height of all the window treatments in an open area is important. You can vary the top treatment some, but overall, draperies should compliment each other in length and style. This does not mean that they have to match exactly, just make sure they complement each other. The same color will look slightly differently in different areas of your home, depending on the lighting. This adds interest to your color scheme and helps each room become unique. A wall painted peach in a room that receives natural daylight all day will look different than the same peach paint will in a room on the north side of the house.
Avoid using conflicting styles or colors within an open area. If you have a country kitchen, it will look out of place flowing into a contemporary dining room. Use color in your accents (pillows, rugs and artwork) to pull the different spaces together if your main color schemes are different. Install dimmers on your kitchen lighting to create a soft ambiance when you're not cooking or preparing meals. This enables an open kitchen to blend in with the living area in the evenings, particularly when you want to create an elegant mood.
If your kitchen is open to the living area, make sure that the kitchen cabinets complement the colors and style in the adjacent rooms. If the cabinets are wood, determine if they are a warm or cool stain and then select warm or cool colors for your schemes. If painted, make sure the color complements the colors in the other rooms. For instance, if you have soft ivory in your color scheme in the living area, you will probably not want to paint the open kitchen cabinets bright white, or they will look out of place. It would be better to paint them a soft ivory. If the refrigerator is visible from the living area, think about having the doors fitted with front panels to match and blend in with the kitchen cabinets.
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