Now that you’ve spent most of 2020 and possibly 2021 at home, you may need a change of scenery. Fresh paint and different colors can make any room feel new and boost your spirits.
Karen D’Andrea, Color Paint Supervisor for Sherwin Williams, explains how to bring color into your home: “First, think about your personal style. Don’t be afraid to stray from the norm,” she said. “Create new looks that reflect your unique tastes and personality.”
There are many things to consider before choosing a color. But first, let us clarify some terms you may not be familiar with as they relate to paint.
Terms To Know:
Visual Weight or Weighty | The ability of a region or art element to draw attention to itself. It is often created through contrast and/or the use of color. For example, solids and simple patterns reduce visual weight while bold patterns add visual weight. Bright and intense colors add visual weight, while muted, neutral colors reduce visual weight.
Advancing | The colors are dominant and appear as though they are coming towards you.
Annoying | The color can be overbearing, difficult to look at.
Temperature| The warmth or coolness of a color affects the physical sensation of body temperature.
Effects of the Most Commonly Used Colors
The location of color within an interior space can make a great deal of difference in influencing the room’s character. The same color placed on a ceiling, wall, or door may elicit many different reactions.
- Ceilings — weighty and annoying.
- Walls — advancing and energetic.
- Floors – confident.
Red is predominantly used as an accent color, but we are currently seeing more of a trend using this color on walls. Large amounts of saturated red create a more complex space, while saturated brown-reds can make a room warm and inviting.
- Ceilings — soft hues delicate and comfortable.
- Walls — complementary to skin tones when soft or pale. Dramatic when highly saturated and vivid tones are used.
- Floors — for select and special spaces.
- Ceilings — energizing and advancing.
- Walls — soft peachy tones are warm and glowing. Bright tones are energetic. Burnt orange shades are rich and warm.
- Floors — creates movement.
While orange is reserved typically for accents, pastel oranges are cheerful and lively. When this hue is close to peach, it can enhance skin tones and therefore, would be a suitable color in a bathroom.
- Ceiling — dark hues are heavy but work in high, open ceilings, especially to conceal exposed ductwork.
- Walls — mid-tone and dark hues can evoke richness, warmth, and comfort. Soft hues are natural and create a neutral backdrop for furnishings.
- Floors — implies durability, stability, and reliability.
The light values of brown are good for work or living environments. The red-browns work well in interior spaces because they bring warmth and comfort.
- Ceiling — light hue, luminous, reflective, and glowing.
- Walls — warm if a golden hue.
- Floors — bright hues are distracting and agitating.
Ideal for safety purposes due to the high visibility qualities, it also appears brighter than white and is useful in poorly illuminated and dim spaces.
- Ceiling — protective (reflection on skin tone can be unattractive).
- Walls — safe, calm, reliable, neutral, yellow-based hues create warmth, blue-based hues tend to be cool.
- Floors — natural up to a certain saturation point (light to dark), soft, relaxing (if closer to blue-green).
Green is an excellent color for interior environments, especially when involving concentration and meditation.
- Ceiling — soft shades are cool and heavenly. Dark hues give the illusion of the ceiling advancing.
- Walls — pale to mid-tone shades are soothing, darker hues provide a dramatic backdrop.
- Floors –darker hues create movement while lighter hues soften movement.
Blue tends to be cold and bleak if applied to large areas. Medium or deep tones are appropriate in incidental areas. Pale blue is refracted sharply by the lens of the eye. Therefore, it tends to cast a haze over details and objects in the environment.
- Ceiling – appears shaded, creates shadows.
- Walls – appears cool, yet bland or neutral.
- Floors – neutral and blends into space.
Gray inspires creative people to become more creative. Gray is a great classifier. It performs the opposite of orange in that it makes things seem more exclusive.
- Ceiling – blank; creates lightness, reflects light, and reduces shadows.
- Walls — neutral to empty, clean.
- Floors — intimidating.
White indicates delicacy, refinement, and sophistication. White may be too harsh as an interior color in some climates. All-white work environments encourage great precision.
- Ceiling — heavy but works well for an exposed ceiling with open ductwork.
- Walls — threatening or dramatic
- Floors — unusual and absorbing. Dark furnishings are lost placed directly on this color.
Black works as an accent color in either residential or business interiors. It is associated with dignity and sophistication.
Tips & Considerations
When creating a warm or cool color scheme, choose one color as the predominant color and then other colors as accent colors.
“Light affects color dramatically,” D’Andrea said. “Fluorescent light tends to be cool and brings out more green or blue in a color. Incandescent light from light bulbs brings more of the red or warmth out in a color. It is important to view colors in daylight and at night because they will appear different.”
Examine your preferred paint swatches twice: once during the day and again after dark, at home, not in the store, before you buy the paint. The color might look great under your electric lights but give you a headache in the daylight or just look completely different.
Buy paint a shade or two lighter than the color swatch you select. On a large surface like a wall, paint tends to look darker than it does on a swatch. Buy only one quart of paint and roll it onto a wall. Look at it several times over the next 24 hours. It will look different in daylight light and after dark. Then decide if you want to continue painting with that color.
Never paint a room at night. The next morning you will be surprised (and probably disappointed) to find it’s not the color you thought it was.
Perception of temperature may also be altered with color. Most design schemes contain more than one color in a space, so if the design includes a color from each group — warm and cool — coordination of the space is still accomplished. Use cool colors in a room that gets lots of hot sunlight and warm colors in dark, sunless spaces.
If you have a long and narrow room, consider painting the end walls a darker shade than the long, narrow walls. The darker colors will recede and will create an illusion of width in this instance. Light colors will advance.
To make a small room look larger, choose a light-color paint, and select furnishings in the same color family. Paint some of the furniture to match the walls.
Light-color ceilings will attract attention. Dark-color ceilings will direct the eye back to head level, allowing the focus to be on the walls, furnishings, and accessories in a room.
If you are painting a wall two colors because of a chair rail (a decorative element that also acts as a protective barrier from wear and tear where furniture is often moved), paint the top half of the wall lighter than the bottom. The lighter color will look dominant.
To get the color on the walls to pop, paint the baseboards, window trim, and other accents bright white. For a monochromatic look, paint everything the same color. If the trim is damaged, paint it a darker color to hide the flaws.
Mix and match, and, have fun with colors while creating a space unique to you.
Important note about popcorn ceilings:
If your house was built before 1978, it is likely asbestos and/or lead was used to create the finish. BEFORE removing or painting a popcorn ceiling, get it tested. If it contains asbestos or lead, hire a certified EPA Lead Paint Certified Contractor to do the work for you. Find a testing professional and contractor at EPA: Certified Lead Dust Sampling Technicians.