Column: Elusive color captured



Color is probably the most powerful interior design element. It is recognized universally and evokes emotions that are tightly connected with meaning. 

The strips and decks of color chips seem, on the surface, like a source of infinite choice of lovely hues and a direct path to interior decorating nirvana. That path, however, is rife with trip hazards.

For 95% of interior color needs, the bright or clean colors can be removed from consideration. This leaves the muted or neutral tones … the colors that are mixed with black or umber to gray them down for a richer, more complicated color.

Although our color trends are leaning toward a more vibrant color palette, it is just a matter of less muting than swinging all the way to a clean color.

Most homeowners can find a perfectly fine color within the predetermined hues represented by computer-generated color chips found at the paint store. Sometimes, however, that perfect color is elusive.

The symptoms of this elusiveness are stacks and stacks of chips laid out on the kitchen table and patches of test swatches of the wall. These are stacks that range from gray to green or raspberry to russet. The cause is not indecision; the right color simply isn’t there.

A way to morph these chips into the perfect color is to relax and identify two colors that are close but not quite. These close candidates have the qualities the room is demanding but are just off a bit.

Mixing the two colors in a ratio of 50/50 just might do the trick. Fill the container with half of each color, leaving enough space to shake it. The critical part is an even dispersion of the tones. When the color differentiation streaks have disappeared, test this newly developed color on, you guessed it, poster board.

When it comes time to look at the color in the room, look at wall color as you would see it on the wall … vertically!

Mixing your paints to achieve a hue that is distinctively yours just requires a few plastic containers with lids and 2 quarts of “almost colors” in the correct sheen. Changing sheen can change the way you perceive your color!

If it is a winner, you have developed a color that is yours and only yours.

Before you go to the paint stores and ask them to do the mixing for you, please reconsider. Paint stores are set up to mix their preset colors based on their recipes. Most are willing to tweak colors on the spot, but mixing is above and beyond the call of duty.




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