I have to say it. It’s getting crazy. You’d think that the whole entire design plan of a house or room was dependent on the wall paint color these days.
While wall color is important, and in some rooms, it definitely can be the significant statement, many, many times, it’s NOT the focal point of the room. Many, many times, it plays a supporting role in the complex building of a room’s design, ambience, and feel.
I hate to see people so absorbed and worried about which shade of white to use that they take the focus off what they should REALLY focus their time and money on.
What should you be focusing on as you think about your space? What should you consider primarily in your attempt to come up with a cohesive and definitive plan?
The big feature in the space. The OVERALL look.
The focus on the objects and statements you’re making with your expensive materials and furnishings and then how the color is integrated in with those elements.
Yes, a color is important....
....but it needn’t make you lose sleep or tie you up in knots because really, unless you’ve got an entire room with just sheetrock and a bare minimum of furnishings….it’s not such a big deal. :-)
Unless your furnishings are all taking a back seat to a dominant color choice, it’s typically not the focal point of the room.
Once everything goes into a space, those other objects and materials will typically overpower the wall color and cause it to take its place in the overall hierarchy of the design elements of the room. When you are in the process of painting or about to start, one can tend to hyper-focus on the color and the minutiae of the elements as they are being added into the project.
Don’t worry. When it’s all done, it will likely work just fine and really not drive nearly so much attention as it does as when there is nothing else standing in the room.
That can be a super hard thing to do. Not worry, that is.
Most people tend to evaluate everything step by step, during the process, and have a tendency not to keep the full picture or end result in mind.
If you want to see crazy color choices, color choices most of my clients and homeowners I know would die if they saw them going into their homes during construction…..visit a designer showhouse that is in the process of being finished. One that isn’t furnished yet.
You will see odd combinations of wall, moulding and ceiling color that you just KNOW won’t work. Grays and beiges together, bright colors with dark, etc. Many times the mouldings or doors, even ceilings, need to remain the overall color chosen for the house, but the designer wants to depart and do something different.
If you see the combination in this stage, you can really think it might end up a design disaster. However, once everything goes in, the oddest of combinations work. The final picture is not a disaster, but strangely comforting and unique. As a matter of fact, chances are you won’t even notice the color choices that much, because really, you’re seeing the money in the room.
You’re seeing the furnishings, the lighting, the special features….and the color is a backdrop that envelopes and helps to amplify the personality and ambience of the space.
Most of the time, and I do mean most of the time, not ALL the time, it’s a building block. It’s not the focus.
And that’s because...
.....it’s just the wall color. It’s just NOT typically, the end-all of the room.
When I designed the windows for Memorial Antiques and Interiors this past November, I ended up using Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year 2017, Shadow. I loved it and was so excited when I got to the storefront and saw the walls freshly painted.
While this color made a big impact here, the main reason it made an impact was because of the high contrast.
My end goal (there should always be one on a job) was to show off some of the beautiful pieces that MAI carried and to expose the eclectic mix of furnishings that they offered. I wanted to highlight how a more traditional grouping in one window and then how an more eclectic mix could work with a trendy new color as the backdrop.
Guess what? While I love the color and feel it brought a richness to the vignettes, in reality, the contrast of the light colored, sculptural furnishings against the dark backdrop was really what brought those windows to life and served to best showcase the pieces I put in the window.
So, while I’m definitely not poo pooing color, unique color choices, or the skill that takes, I’m just saying, it helps to focus your energy on the biggest, most impressive elements in the space and not worry or fret tooooo much over the exact paint color.
It’s okay not to “love” your wall color.....
.....if it works well and plays nicely with the other stronger members of the design team. AND it’s okay not to “love” every single item in your home. While that’s nice and it would be great if every single aspect of our homes were like that, but it’s not going to happen. Okay, that’s the topic of yet another blogpost. :-)
Unexpected colors and combinations have been known to work. I see so many super high end projects with a creamy color and then a bright white used in the space. I think most homeowners would completely freak out if they saw this happening in their home bit by bit. Yet, here it is, featured by major magazines, done by famous designers, and the rooms look beautiful.
Wait till the space is finished.
I remember going to one showhouse walk through before the furniture installation and being surprised at the color of the moulding (a creamy warm color) combined with a very light gray that had a touch of lilac in it. It was sort of crazy to see, really.
After the installation of everything though, it made perfect sense and looked amazing. I was surprised because I just thought the combination would stand out like a sore thumb. I remember standing there and thinking that this was a lesson for me, to remind myself and my clients not to judge the outcome of a space until it was, in fact, the outcome, and finished the way it was designed.
Are the walls making a significant impact in the overall design of the space?
You also have to look at the walls as how they will impact the room. The architecture, the millwork/cabinetry, the door openings, windows, window treatments, etc., all dictate how much wall color you will actually see in the room. If you only see a strip of wall on the sides and top of a big window, then maybe your wall color isn’t going to make an impact. Maybe the color of your drapery panels will be the big statement and then the wall color should play the supporting role.
Maybe you have a kitchen with lots of cabinetry, tile and only a bit of wall showing down in the breakfast room around a window, like in my kitchen. Then, I ask you, why is wall color so important here?
Well, it isn’t. The big elements in the space are important. The cabinetry, the patterns, the high contrast, the expanse of countertop in the room or whatever takes up a lot of visual square footage. As a matter of fact, a dramatic difference in the little bit of wall we had showing, done in a color, in this type of situation, might even hinder or distract from the desired end result and make the space look chopped up.
Yes, that's right.
So, I write this for my future clients and for so many out there who are worrying over their paint colors. Don’t worry. When it’s all done, it’ll be fine. The overall goal is always most important.
We’re not focusing just on your favorite color for your bare walls. We’re thinking about how the color will relate to the objects, the materials, the people and lifestyles within. We’re focusing on how the color will relate to the goals and/or end result desired. The wall color is just one partial aspect of the bigger picture.
And really, you don’t HAVE to love it for it to be the perfect choice.
Want more tips and helpful posts on paint colors? See below.
Want more info on how to select the best paint for your project? You might want to check out my handy guide, linked below.