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Color Stories: Volume 1

Color Stories


Volume One


Once upon a February morning a woman sat in her beige living room watching an old black & white movie on TCM and sipping dark brown coffee out of a white mug.  She looked out the window at the landscape of her back yard.  Dirty white remnants of the last snow storm collected in small piles on the dormant grass, the trees were bare and the sky was grey.  Her whole world seemed colorless.  She sighed deeply. 


“I’ve had enough of this,” she thought, turning off the television and picking up the color issue of her favorite design magazine.  She leafed through the pages.


“No,” she muttered to the opulent red and gold French salon, “Too much”.


“No,” she mumbled to the grey and lime green minimalist living room, “not enough”.


“Ooooh!” she cried taking in the two page spread of spacious bedroom decorated in vibrant blue and white.  “I could live in this.  I mean really live!” she said. 


She ripped out the pages, grabbed her purse and headed out into the ‘greige’ world in pursuit of the perfect shade of blue.


And this is where the story begins…


Ah, the complexities of color.  It’s positively lyrical.  In fact, if Billie Holiday asked the musical question “Am I Blue?” today in the design world, there would be no simple answer. 


Colors need descriptive qualifiers.  When someone says Baby Blue, you know what they mean.  That’s why there are so many lipstick and paint colors… one just hopes that the names are meaningful.  (What does Pinky Dink Pink look like anyway?)


Benjamin Moore says they have 510 shades of blue, from palest First Snowfall to the very deep Old Navy.  Blue can lean toward greenish hues, like peacock, or those containing more red, like violet. Then there are the ‘true’ blues that are right down the middle but vary in saturation from sky blue to cobalt. There are also greyed blues like Crayola’s Cadet Blue, which is the color of a stormy grey sky.




All of the color these color choices can put you in a blue funk!  So how do you go about finding colors you can live with? 


First, find your inspiration:  The lady in our story had the right idea.  She found her inspiration in a magazine, and kept the pages as a starting point. You may find yours in art or something else that speaks to your aesthetic sensibility.  


Keep in mind the design principle of 60-30-10.  I don’t know who came up with it, but when it comes to selecting colors for your home, it’s the golden rule (no pun intended).  Here’s how it works: The dominant color in your room should be 60%, secondary color 30% and accent color 10%. 


Room using  the 60 – 30 – 10 principle


Don’t overdo your pallet.  The mix of too many colors can be an awful mess.  Stick with a color scheme like monochromatic (using tones of a single color) or complementary (using colors opposite each other on the color wheel).


A monochromatic grey room
Bedding using a complementary color scheme
Choose opposites on the color wheel for a dramatic complementary color scheme


After determining your pallet, move on to textiles, fabrics for bedding, upholstery or curtains. Be sure to check out swatches of the fabrics you are drawn to, take them home and see them in the lighting of your home. 




After making your final fabric selections move on to paint colors.  Try them on your walls in patches and view them as the light changes at different times of day next to your fabric choices to be confident that the final outcome is what you intend. 





And you’ll live happily ever after 

in your beautifully decorated new room!