I had a nice salad for lunch today.
It was good, but a little unusual. It had both dried cranberries and tiny sweet cherry tomatoes in it.
The problem was that the cranberries were soooo sweet that they made the normally sweet, tiny cherry tomatoes taste rather dull and not that sweet at all. Normally, those cherry tomatoes would’ve been the sweetest thing, but dried cranberries are so full of sugar that they overpowered the tomatoes. It really kind of made me save the tomatoes for last, so they wouldn’t have to compete with the cranberries.
This relativity holds true in interior design too, especially when it comes to color.
RIGHT: You think white is white. But if you take a creamy white and put it next to a bright white, creamy white will look dirty. Yellow. Dull.
LEFT: But look at that same creamy white in a field of darker colors, or neutrals, and that creamy white will look brilliantly white.
The appearance of a color is highly influenced by it’s surroundings.
I’m working on a project where we are doing a lot of black touches: black doors; a few black bits of hardware; some black tile here and there; a countertop; and a kitchen island - all really black-black touches, like semi-gloss enamel black.
However, in the separate upstairs gameroom/apt., we are doing a “noir”, or brown/black stain on the wood cabinetry, and very dark brown-black tile in the bathroom. So, in this space, we are not using any “black-black”.
Because that “noir” stain has become our black.
In that field of light greige that we have up there on the bleached oak floors and light greige walls, our “noir” will appear black, and it will relate to our very “black-black” downstairs. It will hint at the design of the main house with the high contrast, but it will have it’s own look and scheme with a warmer atmosphere.
Which is exactly what we wanted.
If we had kept very black-black doors and very black-black hardware, etc. up there (just to be consistent throughout), the “noir” stained wood would have looked like, well...
We missed. Like we were trying to match, but didn’t, because the stronger of the two would dominate.
The black-black would command attention, and the lovely stained “noir” cabinetry would not appear as strong and rich and eye-catching.
So, as you can see, color is very relative.
White in one place is not white in another.
And so it goes with all colors.