Monday, December 13, 2010

Choosing Paint Colors

There is much information and experience that goes into choosing paint colors but here are some tips to help you better understand how it works.  Anyone without the knowledge or experience of paint colors that has gone through this process knows all too well how easily it can be a hit or miss in choosing the right paint color.  Too many have had the painful experience of choosing the wrong color and having to paint the room over again (and hopefully not yet again).

Painting interiors the color you imagine can be quite a challenge.  Why is this?  Colors have slight undertones and they read differently.  Undertones are the colors mixed in with the mass tone or color.  For example, a beige color may have a pink undertone.  If you are choosing a beige color, you will want to be aware of its undertone since this color could show through on the walls.  How do you know what undertones you are working with?  Be sure to look at the paint chips in the space you are painting because they will surely look different than at the paint store. If you’re not sure of the undertone in a paint color, paint a sample on a white piece of paper or foam core board (paint this thinly, not thick). The neutral, white background will usually make the undertone easier to identify, even if you don’t have a lot of experience with colors.  The other main challenge in choosing colors is to understand that colors will read different depending on whether you live in the North, South, East or West along with the amount natural sunlight, artificial light, darkness and shadows the space provides.  It will also depend on what the color is adjacent to.  For instance, having the beige paint color with subtle or even unnoticeable pink undertones against cherry or mahogany floors will bring the pink out of the beige.

Colors are often referred to as "warm" and "cool." Orange, red, and pink are considered "warm" colors, while blues, greens, and violet are thought to be "cool."  And if that wasn’t enough to figure out; the real difficult part comes in where there are many different colorways for each primary and secondary colors and these colorways can have warm or cool undertones.  For instance a blue can have a warm or cool undertone.  

If you don’t have much experience with colors, start with many paint chips in the space and work your way down to select five favorite options.  Choose colors that work and feel best with your fabrics, materials and finishes and remember to think about the mood you are trying to set for the space.  Before choosing any final color you should always get a samples of your favorite options and put them on an 11 x 17 (or larger) sample board to really see the color. Leave about 0.5" of white space on all sides to help prevent your existing wall paint color from influencing the color on the sample.  Look at the colors in the morning, noon and night.

Trim colors to use are typically in pure whites; whites with slight cream (yellow tints) or with slight gray.  Again, If you don’t have a lot of experience with colors it is best to keep cool colors with the cream whites and warm colors with the gray whites.  Also, if you have a fixed white surface already in your home such as white cabinets or white tiles in stone, marble or ceramic then you can use a white that works best with this.   It is also important to note that all trims do not have to be in white at all.  They can match the wall color or you can have trims in a darker color (and windows can be treated separately and darker).  See the examples below..

Lastly, a little you need to know about gloss.  Gloss levels refer to the shiny or dull appearance of your paint.  The higher the gloss the more durable the paint is for scrub, stain and moisture resistance but it also shows more of any imperfections on the walls. There are typically six levels flat or matte, eggshell, pearl, satin, semi-gloss, high gloss.  Walls are typically done in a low sheen or eggshell for a more refined look and show less imperfections and glare.  Kitchens, bathrooms, children's rooms, trims and doors are typically in a semi-gloss for its durability and ceilings in a flat or low sheen. A high gloss or even lacquered walls really draw attention and are sexy if used in a particular room but the preparation and process for these walls is much more involved and good for another blog post. Here are some examples..

A few tips:

Think about the mood you are trying to achieve and whether you want to set a cool or warm tone for that feel.
If using difference colors throughout the home put all the color samples together and be sure they flow.
Remember that the paint will dry darker on the walls.
Consider the amount of wall space being covered and lighting with the paint color choices.

Some of my many favorite paint colors:

Farrow and Ball, Skimming Stone 241
Farrow and Ball, Pointing 2003
Ralph Lauren, Pocket Watch White WW01
Ralph Lauren, Forde Abbey
Pratt and Lambert, Seed Pearl 27-32
Benjamin Moore, Revere Pewter HC-172

Ralph Lauren, Orion Grey TH14
Benjamin Moore, Horizon 1478
Ralph Lauren, Forde Abbey TH06

Benjamin Moore, Grant Beige HC-83
Farrow and Ball, Tanner’s Brown 255

Benjamin Moore, Horizon Gray 2141-50
Pratt and Lambert, Clover 22-20

Benjamin Moore, Van Courtland Blue HC-145
Benjamin Moore, Kensington Blue 840

Farrow and Ball, Setting Plaster 231
Benjamin Moore, Tuscan Red 1300
Ralph Lauren, Dressage Red TH41

And for more on the color wheel and choosing paint colors:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Timeless Pieces

Thought I would share what I feel are classic pieces or have a timeless design.  Variations in style and pricing can always be found when designing and often is depending on other decisions made, availability, budget, etc. It is a fun part of the whole design process and putting it all uniquely together.  This is one of the reasons I love bringing antiques in as well.

The classic Chesterfield Sofa (there was also one in my last blog).  This antique sofa reupholstered in fabric or leather can easily work with a traditional, rustic or contemporary setting..

The Barcelona Chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  A leading modernist architect who also designed furniture. This has always been a popular chair for its form and function.

A wood and iron coffee table with a raw look works well to balance out different styles in a room.

Occasional tables with a leather or metal finish is always a nice accent and juxtaposition to wood coffee tables..
On the left, a metal pedestal table from Brocade Home and on the right, an original Jean Michel Frank X Form side table in parchment but could also be reproduced using a shagreen leather..

Floor mirrors are great to add weight to a room and to also open a room up, make it feel larger.  Here is an example from Horchow ..

This Restoration Hardware stool can be used as an occasional seat or a  footstool.. I love the pillow top.

This oblong Saarinen Dining Table (by Eero Saarinen, another known mid-century architect) is a classic with a calacatta marble top and is also reproduced in a round table, coffee table and side table.

These linen, slip-covered dining chairs from Lucca Antiques are great and versatile.  They could also have a wide tape added to the bottom edge for an interesting detail..

This Murano glass chandelier by La Murrina comes in amazing colors and styles. It is quite expensive but there are many options out there that work as well..

Canopy beds or poster beds can be dressed up for a traditional, modern or contemporary setting by the bedding and its surrounds.. This is one of my favorite beds and I have paired it with some contemporary, lacquered pieces.  This would be great in a bedroom with a lofty space having tall ceilings and  french or walnut hardwood floors with big, drapey bedding and curtains..

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Palm Springs

I spent last weekend in Palm Springs with clients and friends and we had a great time.  We went antique shopping to some fun places such as Hedge, Collin Fisher and Studio 111.  Then it was off to The Parker Meridien for lunch and spa treatments.  Designer, Jonathan Adler, created funky and eclectic interiors here with lots of colors, shapes and styles through out...

The Entry, I am always a fan and love using over-scaled door handles.. and dig the orange.

I love this Chesterfield Tufted Sofa and the Beni Ouarain Tribal Rug.  Beni Ouarain (Berber tribes in the northeastern Middle Atlas of Morocco) rugs are made of a soft, thick pile and the design has a white ground with relatively fine black lines forming a network of diamonds.  Borders are uncommon.  These textiles were historically used more for beds and bedding to keep warm rather than floor coverings.  

This Antiqued Peacock Mirror from Wisteria is a great focal point for any room.

As you move towards the back, the space has a mid-century modern flair.  Again, a ray of colors, shapes and styles that totally work from front to back.  The entry has a modern, orange-colored door and at the back orange is used as one of the typical mid-century colors for furniture. This inconspicuously pulls it together.

Door Hardware I love..

The Spa.. wish I had also taken pictures of the spa's pool and relaxation rooms

And The Viceroy; designed by Kelly Wearstler. She is known for bringing back bold colors and geometric designs as well but with a Hollywood glamour appeal.

 Love the off-centered tiled wall and the mix of furniture here. There is a lot of white throughout with bold colors which give fresh, light feel.

..and we came back for dinner.  The food was great; the garlicky bruschetta with buratta, marinated tomatoes, arugula pesto and the dugeness crab cakes with cilantro lime aioli, charred corn, and tomato relish were both outstanding.. not to mention the warm cookies for dessert!

Nice color combination and the contrast piping on the drapes add depth to the space.

The finials make the private dining area more defined, important..

The chill and relaxing pool..

A superb weekend with friends, food and design!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Two Design Icons

Here it is; my first blog..

Designers love looking at design books and magazines and are inspired by so many things even in just one image. I thought I would start by showing you two of the many books that I enjoy and find inspiring. 

My first book was just given to me as a gift. My friend and upholster, Aixa and I went to the Suzanne Rheinstein book signing at her beautiful showroom on La Cienega. Her book is stunning and she has such great attention to detail.

This mountain retreat she designed in Sun Valley looks so warm and relaxing.  I love the tape used on the curtains for creating a division of architectural space.

This game room is handsome and also inviting.  I can see many family and friends gathering here.

On a different project: 
I never understood twin beds unless it is a children’s room so I would love this as a queen or king.  The colors are soft and serene.  The unexpected faux fur rug makes this room as she so successfully carries it on top of the sisal or cotton braided area rugs.

 Love the subtle stripes; notice them on the walls, the floor and the ceiling.

These outdoor gatherings are so chill and remind me of New England..

The second book is one on my favorites and is by Orlando Diaz-Azucuy.  I love the clean, yet sumptuous look and how he masterfully mixes styles together.

 I love these chairs and the marble coffee table..

This coffee table is by Ingrid Donat. She is an amazing sculptor.  She does everything from sculptures to furniture to lighting.  I also love the Richard Serra monoprint above the cool limestone fireplace mantle.

Great Arne Norell "Ari" lounge chairs..

I love the open layout of this bedroom... and the hot, red accent color...any color would work..

The last two images are so great for just chilling out and entertaining..


Well, bare with me as I am still learning how to get this blogger thing started..  Looking forward to making this interesting for those interested in design and decoration!