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HomeHomes
Published: Friday, 2/10/2012

Make-Or-Break Color

Study a few books from the experts and see how they use color to create contrast in or add drama to a room. Study a few books from the experts and see how they use color to create contrast in or add drama to a room.
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You've heard it a million times: Color can make or break a room. Yet you never seem to pick the right color for the room you're redecorating. You select what appears to be a pleasing shade, roll it onto the walls, live with it for a while and realize you hate it. How can you get just the right color the first time?

It begins with knowing a little something about color. Read up on the basics. Learn about the color wheel and the relationship between the colors on the wheel. Get the skinny on warm and cool colors and find out how the two interrelate. Study a few books from the experts and see how they use color to create contrast in or add drama to a room.

The more you know how color works, the better. After you have done your homework, consider the feel you are trying to create in the room. Are you looking to make the room warm and homey, or are you striving for a cleaner, simpler look? The colors you choose can add to or detract from the feel you're going for. An apple green with yellow undertones, for example, can warm up a room, whereas a gray-green with blue undertones can cool down a room. Color also impacts the size of a room. Darker colors often make a room appear smaller, whereas lighter colors tend to open up a room. Saturation comes into play, too. Rooms decorated with the same intense shades often appear larger than rooms decorated with shades that vary in intensity.

Once you have decided just exactly what kind of feel you are after, the next step is to choose a color scheme that will reflect it and test it out. Many stores now carry paint samples that you can purchase for less than a quart of paint and apply quickly to your walls at home. Make sure you roll a large patch of each color onto all the walls and look at it in the morning, afternoon and evening. Pull in your fabrics, furniture and accessories and ensure the color scheme will work with them as well. You may find, for example, that the periwinkle blue and cream you have selected washes out your light furniture and fabrics and choose to go with a royal blue and taupe instead.

Once you have selected a color scheme, the big step finally comes: applying the paint to the wall. Don't despair if you roll it on and hate it. You may just need some time to adjust to it. If, after a few days, you still hate it, there may be steps you can take to correct the situation. You could try a faux finishing technique with watered-down paint or glaze. If the color you have chosen, for example, is a little too bright, you could tone it down by sponging or ragging a dark shade of glaze or a softer color over it. Keep in mind the impact that fabrics, furniture and accessories will have on the color, too. While the color may seem fairly intense in an empty, open room, it may be fine once everything has been moved in.

Color doesn't have to be an agonizing decision. Do some research, create some samples and be prepared with a plan B in case the color you choose needs to be adjusted.



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