Clearly the most personal decision involved in any interior or exterior painting project is the color of paint to apply.
Follow your instincts when selecting paint color. You are the one who will be living with your color choices. Decorating your home with your own favorite hues is what gives your home its own unique personality.
While it is true that there are no hard and fast rules about paint color selection, there are certain color systems that are appealing to the average eye. Understanding them can help you make the best decisions on color choice.
Every color bears some type of relationship to all other colors. By becoming familiar with the color wheel, you will have a better understanding of the relationship between colors. More important, you will be better able to select combinations of colors that will look great on your home. Working with the color wheel, you can devise an almost limitless number of attractive decorating schemes.
The most successful color combinations will fall into one of the following categories:
This color scheme employs only one basic color, but in several different values. An example would be a home exterior with light blue siding and dark blue shutters and trim.
This system combines two or more colors that are located next to each other on the color wheel – orange, yellow-orange and red-orange, for example. To get the best results with this system, try to select colors that do not have the same value and intensity.
This type of scheme uses colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, such as red and green, or yellow and violet. If you choose this system, you might want to select a subtle color and a dominant color, to prevent the colors from clashing.
A triadic scheme employs three colors that are equidistant on the color wheel – as an example, yellow, blue and red. For best results, you should choose one dominant color and use the other two as subtle accent colors.
The basis of a color: whether it is a red or a green. Lighter or darker variations are still the same hue. Thus, a light red and a deep red are of the same hue.
The lightness or darkness of a color. Light blues, medium blues and dark blues have different values.
Those colors with values closest to black: the darker reds, the darker blues, and so forth.
Those colors with values closest to white: the lighter reds, the lighter blues, and so forth.
A color’s intensity: its brightness or dullness. When gray is added to a color like red, it dulls its intensity and renders it a darker tone.
Assess the Color “Environment”
As you begin to plan your interior or exterior painting, be sure to take into account the color “environment” in which your color will appear. Become your own designer using our innovative room colorizer technology to help you make that important color decision.
On the inside of the home, the color environment is created not only by the appearance of the walls and woodwork you will be painting – it is also very much affected by the furnishings in the room, and the hues in adjacent rooms as well. To make the best color choices, take in the whole picture.
Likewise, when doing exterior painting, be sure to take into account the “fixed” colors of your home – brick, stone work, and the roof color, for example. The most flattering color treatments will be those that work well with these existing elements. Consider choosing a color that will “pick up” the color of a nonpainted area – for example, you might want to use a paint color that will pick up the brown that appears in your brick, or you might apply a green paint that picks up a green highlight from your stone work.
Also, remember that no home exists in isolation: its appearance is inevitably affected by the appearance of neighboring homes, and even the color of shrubs and trees around it. You probably don’t want to paint your home the exact same color as your next door neighbor’s, but you probably do want to select a hue that will look attractive along side of it.
Furthermore, be aware of the fact that certain colors look more “at home” in certain surroundings. For example, earth tones are always a good choice in natural, wooded areas, but they may not be the best choice in other settings.
Another factor to consider is the architectural style of your home. Oftentimes, a home looks most attractive when painted in “period” colors. Formal Colonial or Greek Revival homes look great with white exteriors and muted interiors, while Victorians come to life with bold color treatments that accentuate their “gingerbread” and other interesting architectural details. California Paints has a dedicated Historical color palette that captures the beauty and style of each time period.
Historic Colors of America (1600-1895) | 20th Century Colors of America (1900-1985)
Fail-Safe Color Choices
If “safety first” is your motto, and you simply want your home to look neat and freshly painted, there are certain color treatments that will look good on almost any home.
A near-surefire approach when doing interior painting is to paint the walls a neutral color like beige, and the ceiling and trim white. In fact, if you keep the trim and ceiling white, a wide range of colors will look attractive on your walls.
Similarly, the safest approach to exterior painting is to use white, beige or another neutral color on the siding and a darker accent color on the trim. Dark brown is often a good general purpose color for exterior trim.
Commenting on the popular paint colors of the moment is, at best, a risky business. They can change at any time. With that proviso, it is possible to say that preferences are far more predictable when it comes to exterior paint colors, rather than interior colors.
For the past 200 years or more, white has been the top color choice for home exteriors in the U.S. And a color study conducted by the Dow Chemical Paint Quality Institute indicates that white or off-white still ranks at the top of the list. After white, earth tone browns, tans and beiges have always been popular, and they remain so today.
Interior paint colors are another matter – the “in” colors tend to change every few years. Color experts a California Paints have partnered with Global Color Research to offer the most innovative color palette merging upcoming trends with those classic colors that stand the test of time.
Using Color to Achieve Special Effects
One of the most exciting things about paint color is that you can use it to visually alter the size, shape and style of your home, not to mention the temperature and mood of the rooms inside. For these reasons, color is regarded as one of the most versatile home decorating tools. By painting the exterior of your home in a light, bright color such as yellow, you can make it look larger than its actual size and cause it to stand out from its surroundings. Conversely, you can use dark paint to bring a sense of proportion to a large home on a small lot.
These types of optical effects can be used with good results inside the home as well.
For example, light-colored interior wall paint can “enlarge” a room, while dark shades will make a room seem smaller and more intimate. Ceilings too low? You can visually “raise” them without lifting a hammer by painting the ceiling a lighter color than the walls. Ceilings seem too high? “Lower” them by applying a dark-color ceiling paint.
If you want to “lengthen” a square room, try painting one wall a contrasting color. To widen a long, narrow room, apply a deep color to the two end walls and a light color to the other walls.
Certain interior colors will make a room feel warmer or cooler than its true temperature. Reds, oranges and yellows add warmth and coziness, for example, while greens and blues make a room seem cooler.
Outside the home, a light color of exterior paint actually can lower the temperature inside – and help you save on costly air conditioning. As a result, if you live in a warm climate or coastal area, consider painting your home exterior in a white or light pastel color. If you live in a cold climate, the opposite principle applies – if heating bills are a greater concern, you may be able to reduce them by painting with a dark-colored paint that will absorb the heat of the sun. (Naturally, the effectiveness of these tactics will be affected by the amount of insulation you have in your home.)The core content for Painting Tips is provided by the courtesy of Dow Chemical as found on CaliforniaPaints.com.