The most important element of Staging or Styling any design project is color. And much like a marriage you want to nail it the first time. Just like choosing a perfect mate, there are many components that go into picking just the right hue, tint or shade. What does it all mean? Where to begin? Why is it all so terrifying, confusing or intimidating? Here I highlight 4 'C's of color to help you Stage and Style perfect spaces every time!
Let’s be clear on your own desires. Where do you like to Style your color? Do you prefer it on the walls for more dramatic impact? (Paint, Art, Window Treatments). Or do you like a splash on the ceiling or floor?? (Carpet, Tiles, LVP, Throw Rugs). Are you adventurous enough for colorful furniture? Maybe you prefer a neutral palette or like smaller touches of color in Accessories and Art? Think about that and take a look around your space. Now that you’re aware of your comfort zone, let’s explore what you’re attracted to.
Why do we love the colors we love? And why do we hate the hues we hate? The most important ‘C’ of all, Consciousness, breaks down what feelings are evoked by certain colors and suggests the best ways to Stage and Style them with your décor.
RED: Always dynamic & exciting, red pairs well with other lively colors. It shines next to white and mellows out with dark grey. The Chinese associate it with good fortune. Whether it’s sexy or screaming, red stirs the soul in any shade.
PINK: The lower octave of red, pink is more subtly suggestive. Where red is passionate and stylish, pink is romantic and playful. Like its mentor it plays well with green and blue.
BLUE: From Navy to Sky, blue always seems to be the confident breath of serenity and sophistication. Whether it’s boldly conservative or light and airy there is an ideal hue for everyone. It livens up in the company of orange and yellow, looks all American next to red and white and can be deeply intuitive next to its brethren.
GREEN: Almost a neutral depending on the shade, green is grounding and inspirational at the same time. Emeralds, apples and avocados all come from the earth making green work well in any space where you want to bring the outdoors in – whether it’s an enchanted forest, a rustic garden or a tropical paradise. Can you think of any color that green doesn’t go with?
TURQUOISE/TEAL: The love child of blue and green is a uniquely seductive chameleon ~ mixing well with tans & browns - sand and sea - to coming fully alive next to yellow and orange. It makes a perfect couple with bright white, looks mysterious beside black and worldly next to red.
YELLOW: Bold, bright or obnoxious, yellow is never boring. It works best in small doses, uplifting blues and greens and energizing red and orange.
ORANGE: The natural child of yellow and red, orange confidently holds its own with its creators. It stirs the pot with blue and doesn’t shy away from brown. It’s like your ex- you either love it or hate it.
PURPLE: The natural child of blue and red, purple has its own distinction. It is associated with Royalty and wealth yet toddlers love it too. It also relates to Spirituality and the 3rd Eye. Whether it’s regal, energizing, calming (mauve) or playful it looks handsome next to green, flamboyant beside orange or chill with blue.
BROWN: Always beautiful in natural wood form - otherwise the color reminds me of bad 70’s trailer décor. It’s not my first choice. Perfect for floors, ceiling beams and rustic wall treatments.
BEIGE: The lower octave of brown and a cousin and alternative to white, beige is basically boring. It makes me recall bland 80’s and 90s décor. If you’re going with a neutral palette make sure to mix up lots of texture! Bring beige to life with green for an organic look and fall back in love with it next to matte black. Think Gucci – sort of creamy white and black.
So what about BLACK and WHITE? We’ll decode their mystery with our next ‘C’.
Black and white appear to be opposites – White recedes and reflects and represents purity, while black can be sexy and serious, absorbing the colors around it. I personally consider them lower and higher octaves of the same ‘color’ with 50 shades of grey in between.
Technically, and if you have ever studied art, you learn that black and white are not actually ‘colors’. Black is a shade and white is a tint. It goes without saying, if you want to make a color lighter you add white, if darker add black. To mute a color, add some of its opposite on the the color wheel. And that my friends is the secret sauce to Staging and Styling perfect spaces!
The color wheel works similarly to the Zodiac. Just as in Astrology, opposite signs attract. They are not meant to be the same. They are meant to complement each other. Your opposite sun sign is your natural partner. So follows the color wheel. If you want to fully enliven a color, pair it with its opposite. A great example of a perfect couple is red and green, most popular of course at Christmas. Conversely, if you want to neutralize a color put it with similar hues. Monochromatic color schemes can be interesting if you mix in patterns. As previously mentioned, almost anything will ‘pop’ next to white. Black can mellow out a color or just throw shade.
High end Staging and Styling is never about being matchy, matchy. Beautifully curated designs are a strategic blend of color, pattern and texture. It’s all about perfect balance. A skilled professional can help you create one of a kind décor and prevent you from making costly mistakes, which leads us to our final ‘C’.
Of course lighting matters when choosing the perfect color, and should always be a prime consideration especially with paint. You can get 8 x 10 sample swatches now to test out your fave shades. Some other “rules” to consider: (& rules are meant to broken)
-Style with warmer colors in colder or rainy climates, and bring in cool tones where the weather is hot.
-You can use darker colors in sunny spaces as they will absorb excess light, and pale colors work well in dark rooms – duh. That is why traditional ceilings are usually painted white and open loft ceilings painted black or dark. White is a receding color while black is advancing. If you have a long narrow room you can use a dark wall treatment/paint on the shortest wall as it will appear to bring it in. The reverse is true of the side walls. They should be done in a light color to ‘widen’ the room. We use the same tricks with fashion. We wear white when we feel confident and black when we feel fat or want to hide.
- Another thing I’ve learned is to go one shade lighter than your chosen paint color. It always looks darker on the wall for some reason.
-Mixing warm and cool tones is perfectly ok and relates to contrast as much as correction. Use them in the same space just not in the same spot. For example: If you're doing cool walls, try a warm floor covering. See our blog: 33 Yr Old House Gets a Model Home Makeover!
-A great tip from Donna Hoffman, https://theinteriordesignadvocate.com/. Design your room first and pick your paint color last. It makes sense when you think how hard it would be to design a room around a single color. She suggests having your chosen palette in mind when choosing furniture, fixtures and finishes then pick your target color out of one of those. For example, if you are really digging this cool grey-blue (that’s so popular right now) decorate your space within that color range, then pull your paint color out of either the carpet, drapes or a show pillow. (And go one shade lighter.) Capishe?
There are a million ways to Stage and Style with color. I’ve only just scratched the surface. This should give you enough good intel, though, to proceed with Confidence.
For the latest on color in 2022, check out these links:
Kerry F. Decor is here for you if you decide you would like professional help. Maybe you want us to manage your whole project? Or would you just like some DIY assistance? We now offer package pricing. Check out our Specials page for 1/2 and full day Design options as well.
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Credits: Donna Hoffman, Alicia D. Keshishian, Audra Slinkey
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