30 Tips and Tricks for Choosing, Using and Loving Color


  1. Customer servive at Forrest“Pick Colors using objects as your guide- an old celadon teapot, the burnt sienna in a paisley fabric, a blade of grass. It’s so much livelier than paint chips. I always, always start with a thing.” – Sasha Emerson
  2. When you’ve found the right color on a paint card, go a step lighter. Colors look darker on the wall. The lightest two colors on a card deliver more punch then you’d expect. Unless you are looking for a big contrast, then stick with them.
  3. Using different shades or a color- such as various blues- is an easy way to pull a room together. To prevent monotony, vary the textures (suede against silk) and add a pop of a different color in a pillow, throw or vase.
  4. Follow the rule of three. When you pick a color use it at least three times in a room.
  5. “Put things in context. If it’s a fabric that’s going on a horizontal surface, look at it horizontally. Whatever it is, step back six feet and look at it from a distance. Looking at a swatch, a pillow, a curtain, or a rug six inches from your face is different than seeing it as you step into the room.” – Janie Hersch
  6. Camouflage a hodgepodge of surfaces- an awkward dormer door, wimpy crown molding, or an ugly chair rail- by painting them the same color as the wall. They’ll fade away. Works great with neutrals.
  7. “Think of hallways as palate cleansers- the sorbet that’s served before diving into the next course. Keeping them neutral allows you to branch into any color in rooms that flow off them.” –Barry Dixon
  8. Don’t sweat light color variations between fabrics and walls. “The best rooms are slightly off-stronger, lighter, softer, just not a spot on match to a swatch,” says Sasha Emerson, a Los Angeles designer.
  9. When you’re spreading color around a room, think about proportion. If you’re using three colors, try a 70/20/10 distribution, with the highest percentage going to the lightest color. For two colors, go 70/30.
  10. Store fabric, wallpaper and paint swatches in a notebook or binder so they’re handy when you shop. To visualize your scheme, cut fabric swatches (or paint brush strokes) relative to the size they’re used in the room- large ones for curtains, small ones for pillows.
  11. “Break up a room of matchy-matchy wood furniture with one painted piece. It doesn’t have to be a bold color. I like to combine natural wood tones with black.” – Melissa Birdsong
  12. “I’m always drawn to colors I wear. Look in your closet. You are your own best inspiration for color.” –Comeca Brannon.
  13. The back of a fabric, curtain, comforter, or area rug is sometimes more interesting- and tones down- than the front. If no telltale signs like hems will show, go ahead and flip it. Designers do it, so can you!
  14. Top a lamp with a colored or patterned shade. Suddenly your room will seem more alive and vibrant.
  15. “Everyone thinks of walls when they think of color. But using color as accessories – rugs, pillows, artwork- makes an amazing impression without going crazy on the walls.”- David Bromstad
  16. Get out the digital camera. It is amazing how a photo can point out problem spots. Add some colorful accessories, take a photo and compare.
  17. Bring out fresh colors. They are color without commitment.
  18. Yes those sample-size containers or paint are worth the few extra bucks. Forrest Paint offers them. They’re handy for little paint projects and touchups, too.
  19. “In a small room, keep the walls the same color as the primary upholstered furniture. The room will seem twice the size.” – Jeffrey Bilhuber
  20. White brightens whatever it’s with, but it can also be harsh. Try off-whites instead, “when you put a warm white next to a color, it will look bright and crisp,” says designer Barry Dixon.
  21. “The era of the bright white ceiling is over,” says Elaine Griffin, New York City designer. Paint the ceiling a shade lighter than walls to visually raise it and avoid jarring stop-start seams. For a shade darker to bring it down and add coziness. Go a shade lighter to open the room up and increase light.
  22. Art and fabric are great building blocks for a palette. Look closely at the item: pull out some background colors to use as room accents. Pulling the dominate color can be too much of a good thing.
  23. “When choosing colors for a bedroom, pick out the bedding first and go from there.” – Andrea Rossback
  24. Painting is the least expensive mistake you can make. Be brave. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll have to repaint.
  25. To tell if a color has a pinkish, grayish or greenish cast, look at similar swatches side by side. Comparison allows perspective.
  26. When testing colors on a surface, paint the colors a foot or two apart. This gives you a better idea of how the color would look in your room without distracting you with comparisons.
  27. Think of neutrals as peacemakers. They can help colors get along.
  28. Wallpaper or paint the inside of a bookcase to set off what’s being displayed. “I used yellow wallpaper in a white built-in bookcase and wrapped the same wallpaper around the lamp shades,” says Kristen Schenck Jackson.
  29. Two schools of thought for testing a paint color before taking the plunge:

1) Paint the wall that gets the most natural light. If you like, it in the amplified light, it should work on the walls.

2) Paint a piece of cardboard then rotate it around the room to see how it looks in different lights and against different trim. (Use two/three coats of paint for good coverage.)

  1. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Employees at paint stores see a lot of color and can offer a fresh perspective.

 

990 McKinley Street, Eugene, OR 541-868-1222 • www.forrestpaint.com

One Response to “30 Tips and Tricks for Choosing, Using and Loving Color”

  1. jresquival Says:

    That’s a good tip to base your color choices on items you own. That way your colors and furnishings can work together. When I get a new place I’ll have to find something I want to base my design on.

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