Color Your World

We recently added some new licensed prints to our site, you can click on the thumbnail at left to see both prints, and they are painted in rich, vibrant colors, which started the wheels in my mind turning...

Have you ever struggled with choosing the perfect color for rooms  in your home only to find that they end up being much brighter, bolder or more intense than you had envisioned?  Well, I used to have this problem too until I developed a solution that has worked well for me, time and time again.

First let's start with a little color theory.  You may already know that color is relative.  It is influenced by the hue (chroma/color), value (light/dark), temperature (warm/cool) and intensity (bright/dull), also referred to as saturation (pure/greyed), of it's environ.  What you may not know is that these properties are perceived differently in relation to the given area of a color.  Here's where we encounter the inconsistencies between the petite paint swatch and our walls.  Most colors, whether our favorite or not, are palatable in small doses like swatch cards.  The same color on a wall seems to scream.  The pastel blue that, in the store and even when you dutifully brought the swatch home to judge in the proper lighting, looked so restful, has become an electric (intense or more saturated), albeit still pastel (light value), blue.  What caused this metamorphosis? Nothing more than the square footage. The color seems more intense because there is a lot of it.  It's as if it has joined together to assault your senses.  What is the solution?

My solution to this phenomena is to select the color(s) that I "think" I want.  I then choose the swatch that is two steps duller than my original choice.  It works like a charm!
Let's put this into practice.  As a starting point it's nice to begin with something that has coloring that pleases you.  I will use the art prints mentioned above.  From the various elements, I have put together a color palette that reflects the colors found in the print.  If taken directly from the print, the color palette would look like the first group of swatches shown below.


They are a perfectly lovely palette but, based on experience I can confidently say that these colors would turn out to be a bit bright for my tastes if applied to a large expanse.

Using the system that I developed for choosing colors for use in my own home I would resort to the palette below.  Each color is slightly less saturated than those above.



While these may appear overly subdued, keep in mind you are viewing small swatches on a light background, much like color swatches you pick up at the paint store.

Of course the same palette could be used in any realm, the intensity would vary according to the use.  I would use the upper palette, or perhaps an even more saturated version of the same, for web design, where rich, vibrant colors are preferred and the lower palette for home decor.

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