My Color Nightmare

We've moved into a lovely Mediterranean-style house that we're renting, and since I have none of my stuff, have been occupying myself by repainting the interior (with the blessing of our landlords).

For the most part, it's been simple- just design a color palette that reflects and enhances the existing architectural style of the house, as well as helps with transitions, lighting issues, and all that jazz. Lots of golds, rusts, warm reds, and yellows to warm up the place. (I'll show you some before and afters in an upcoming post)

So, we've got a pretty consistent architectural style here. Until we get to the bathroom. It's so ghastly, I haven't wanted to step foot in it, and instead have been using the guest bathroom in the basement! Ready for this? Here it is:
Mint green appliances and peach/rose tile. Can you stand it? Is it just me, or is this just too horrible for words?

My husband says we have to embrace its "funkiness" and go all out. He's voting to paint the remaining wall spaces mint green to match the bathtub, sink and toilet.
Here, to the left of the sink, you can see a square of rose color, where a previous owner had gone the pink route. I only discovered this after ripping a Christmas scene plastic tray off the wall that had been glued in place.
At one point, I was considering charcoal gray, to accent the black tile motif, and try to draw attention away from the overall pastely-ness. Of course, that would probably make the bathroom way too dark, and that's no good, either.
So basically, we've got the white walls above the tile work, the shower curtain, towels, and throw rug to work with. I am TOTALLY stumped on this one, and since it's my own rental, don't have the objectivity to examine some color options. Oh, color-savvy readers, please help!

Color- the bandaid to make it all better?

Walmart has just updated their logo with an informal type treatment and new colors.
Many muse that the change comes as Walmart strives to remove itself from its rather undesirable reputation of an invasive retailer who swoops into a town and puts all the mom and pop shops out of business. Not to mention their unethical employment and environmental practices. (Can you tell how I personally feel about the franchise?)
The official press release simply states:
...what really matters is what happens out there in the stores. This update to the logo is simply a reflection of the refresh taking place inside our stores and our renewed sense of purpose to help people save money so they can live better.
Why so tight-lipped about the new redesign goals?
Intended to humanize their logo, the use of a warmer, friendlier blue and sunny yellow orange starburst certainly is more approachable than the previous corporate blue hue. Don't you think? Will this new design change your mind about Walmart's message?

via BrandNew

Hang in there, readers!

I have so much to tell you, and lots of pictures to show you from my travels across the country. Alas, my camera adapter is packed away with all the rest of our stuff, stuck back in Baltimore. (grumble, grumble, grumble)

I get internet hooked-up on Friday, so at the very least, should be able to get back to some semi-regular color posts after that.

In the meanwhile, due to this unexpected delay, if anyone else would like to write a guest post for Hue, please email me with interest!

Thanks for sticking in there while I muddle through this move. I promise to make it up to you with some fantastic posts, and a new color competition coming soon...

Color and Personal Fashion Impact

Our guest post today comes from Cynthia Sliwa, AICI CIP, an image consultant. Cynthia writes a blog called Jewels on Jewels and is the co-author of Jewelry Savvy. She lives in Los Angeles, but presents workshops and has clients across the country. She tackles the challenging question of analyzing the best colors for a person to wear, an area I am totally unfamiliar with. So I'm thrilled to get a different perspective for you.

Color and Personal Fashion Impact

The stereotypical artist or designer dresses in black – think Donna Karan, Vera Wang and much of Manhattan. Black is chic. Black is easy dressing. And, as an image consultant who styles clothing and accessories for my clients, I can understand how eliminating color from my own wardrobe might help me focus on the gorgeous colors I am using with my clients.
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However, as an image consultant, I am also mindful of how the power of color can work for me personally. Color demands attention, of course, and knowledgeably wearing color helps establish in the eye of the viewer an appreciation of one’s mastery of color.

Personal color analysis has come a long way since Carole Jackson introduced the concept to the public using a four seasons approach in her book, Color Me Beautiful, in the 80’s.
The skin, hair and eyes of an individual form the basis for an analysis of an individual’s personal color palette.

A sophisticated personal color system today, such as that of Carla Mathis’s Body Beautiful Institute, the system I use with my clients, goes well beyond a determination of cool versus warm coloration. Her system is based upon color resonances and a study and understanding of how pure pigments are lightened (washed or tinted), darkened (shaded), or otherwise modified (toasted or muted with grey or a color’s complement).

In considering how to demonstrate the power of color on an individual’s personal impact, I stumbled upon a mother lode of photos from the 2008 Cannes Film Festival posted on Let’s look at how different colors on the same individual make a difference in the impression that person makes.

Model #1: Cate Blanchett
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In this first photo, she wears a purple and black dress (designer not identified) that completely overwhelms her delicate coloring.
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In the second photo, she wears a softer color, a shade of taupe, in a ruffled gown by Armani Prive. What a difference a color can make! Now you see the woman, not just the dress.
Model #2: Eva Longoria
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The brightness of this peacock feather mini dress might overwhelm a woman with softer coloring, like Cate Blanchett, but on Eva Longoria, it’s gorgeous. Her vibrant personality supports the intensity of the hues.
Model #3: Salma Hayek
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Here’s another beautiful green dress, this one by Balenciaga, but it’s rendered in a tinted hue that doesn’t complement the personal coloring of the actress. We lose sight of the woman and see only the dress.

Model #4: Natalie Portman
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She wears a bright violet ruffled dress by Lanvin that has you staring at the dress, not the woman. The color doesn’t flatter.
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Lanvin didn’t do her any favors at least twice – here’s the actress in overly bright cobalt blue, again, not an optimal hue. Any thoughts on why this doesn't work for her?
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And then – at last! Another Lanvin creation, this one in red, that works with her skin color and allows the actress to dazzle.
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I end with a photo of Natalie in Chanel Couture and yes, she’s wearing what appears to be black, although a caption identified the dress as dark navy. Sometimes even the most dedicated color aficionado wants to wear black to make a statement because, after all, he or she is an artist!

If you are interested in learning more about professional image consultants, check out Association of Image Consultants International.

So, now a question for you. How are you at determining which colors look best on you? When you wear a particular color shirt and get complimented on how nice you look, does it make sense? What works for you? Any idea why? Please share!

Seeing Red...

I'm back! Well, sort of...

After an exciting drive across the country with our dog Lucy in our trusty Subaru station wagon, we are now at our new place in Rockridge, a cute little neighborhood in Oakland, CA right on the border of Berkeley. Racing across the country to meet our moving van, we arrived to discover that in fact, the driver had never picked up our stuff, and that our possessions were still in Baltimore. Somehow, Bekin finds it impossible to find a driver to take our things to CA, and they've had a month to do it! Needless to say, we are furious with Bekin. I know this post has little to do with color, but I just had to share with you my experience, to hopefully save someone else the stress and frustration. Don't ever use Bekin!

Okay, more soon....

Soothing Colors for Babies

Today's guest post comes from Kelly Berg, IIDA, IACC-NA, an interior designer, color consultant, and style expert. Her website is Arte Styling. Kelly is a woman of many talents - from set decorating for TV and film, to recipe development, to event decorating, to residential and commercial design work. She recently rediscovered her passion for color and become a member of the IACC- NA.

Soothing Colors for Babies

I recently received my new Baby & Child catalog from Restoration Hardware. Cute, but where is the color? I was hoping to see some great new color palettes - maybe some punchy tangerine? Shimmering turquoise? Apple green?
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Instead I got “cloud” (a pale sky blue), “petal” (a soft pink), “silver sage” (a soft grey-green), and “bisque” (a creamy neutral.) Not bad colors, but couldn’t Restoration Hardware have come up with something a little more original? Sure, they brought in a very sophisticated chocolate-y brown to change things up, but aren’t these still the same baby colors we’ve been seeing for years and years? Am I the only one a little bored with the colors in this “new” collection of baby goods?
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Restoration Hardware says it’s a soothing color palette for your little ones. But is it really soothing? Do we really know that pastel pinks and blues create a soothing environment for infants?

I was curious what sort of information was out there regarding the topic, so I did a little google search on “soothing colors for babies.” And, surprise, surprise - everyone seems to want “soothing” colors for baby. According to popular opinion (nothing scientific), “soothing” colors are pastels- soft yellows, blues, pinks and greens. Here are a few other babies’ rooms that celebrate pastel colors:
Again - not bad design or bad colors. They have sort of a “soothing” feel, right?

I continued googling and and uncovered recent research published in Wired magazine, suggesting that adults may not even see color the same as infants, making it even more difficult for us to determine what colors may or may not be “soothing” for babies.
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Another recent study from the Smith Kettelwell Eye Research Institute reports that
“Infants' color vision is not likely to be as rich and sensitive as adult color vision since the receptors and nerves in the eye that are most sensitive to color (again, in the fovea) are not yet mature. Thus, infants may not be able to distinguish very subtle color differences (like distinguishing between red and reddish-orange, or between very subtle pastel colors).”(source)

So all the “soothing” pastel colors we think are perfect for baby may not even be differentiated by an infants’ eye? Perhaps more vibrant nursery designs might be more interesting for baby?

What do you think? Do you like Restoration Hardware’s new Baby and Child catalog? Which nursery designs do you think might be better for babies? Is “soothing” really what babies need? Or is it better to add a bit more stimulation using more saturated colors?

Why Yellow for Yoga?

Our guest post today is by Jessica L. Gordon, a fellow color consultant whom I recently had the pleasure of having lunch with. Jessica has been a professional artist and color consultant for 10 years. Her obsession with color began in a figure painting class with Alan Loehle. Each color had to be mixed on the pallet, scooped up with a pallet knife, and compared against a model to match his or her particular skin tone before the paint was allowed to touch the brush or the canvas. It was then that Jessica was sucked into the world of paint colors. She provides color design services to homes and businesses in the Annapolis, MD area.

Why yellow for yoga?

I’ve been searching around on the internet trying to find some rhyme or reason to all the yellow walled yoga studios I’ve read about or seen lately. I looked at as many pictures I could find in a half hour period of time.
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Ouch! I think my heart would be racing in here!

I surprised myself with my findings…
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Not bad…

I have to say that I cannot live in yellow. Not that I’ve ever tried, but I have an aversion to yellow on MY walls. Not to say that for my clients I can’t pick out the absolute perfect yellow to harmonize with the household, because I definitely CAN and DO. But the thought of doing yoga regularly in a yellow walled yoga studio gave me anxiety to imagine.
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I’ve always pictured yoga as something that you do with your body. You don’t NEED special equipment in order to start a practice. All you need is you. It’s always felt natural and earthy to me. My father practiced yoga pretty much daily my whole life, and he never even acquired so much as a yoga matte. So naturally the perfect environment to me seems to be the natural world. Actually in nature is still my favorite place to practice. However I couldn’t seem to find a picture of a studio that mimicked the colors of the earth that I liked in its expression inside.
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That’s not me!

I think the perfect situation would have to actually be wooden floors, stained dark enough to feel like the earth. Floors that are too light can cause balancing issues. The walls would absolutely need to be either glazed to look like, or actually be clay; a product of the earth. Clay on the walls actually some how translates to life and energy in the interior of a space. The great thing about it as well is that it will help to maintain a steady temperature, staying cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
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It’s hard to see in this picture, but this olive would be perfect.

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This might be too cool, but wow!

But the color, I think it needs to be a mixture, not too cool and not too warm. A very muted gold could be energizing, but a yellow/brown/green might be the optimum way to go. Colors that mimic our surroundings and have life seemed to be most harmonious to this natural way of maintaining one’s health. What are your thoughts?

Eye Candy: For the love of chocolate

Oh goody, another guest post from Hollie! She and I went through the International Association of Color Consultants education program together.

For the Love of Chocolate
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My favorite part of any meal is dessert…actually who needs a meal, let’s just get dessert! So, when I heard that a new chocolate boutique had opened in my neighborhood, I just had to check it out. Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates did not disappoint. As soon as I walked in, my senses were overwhelmed by the glorious wonder that is chocolate!
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The interior of Ginger Elizabeth is urbane, sumptuous, and decidedly feminine. But the star of the show is most definitely the chocolate. Confections in every texture and shade of the heavenly substance filled the counters and shelves. The effect was really candy for the eyes as well as the palette. It’s no wonder that brown has become a staple in interior design.

So, what makes brown such a great choice? Well, since it is technically a neutral, it pairs well with all of your favorite accents, adding contrast and depth to any combination.

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On its own, this pale blue color would seem like a juvenile choice for a living room. But set against the brown leather sofa and crisp white accessories it becomes fresh and sophisticated.

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Brown is perceived by most to be stable and grounded. In this combination, the bright orange accents are toned down and balanced by the brown, creating a room that is bright and vibrant without being overpowering.

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Here, the bold use of deep chocolate brown challenges our normal association with this neutral. This, paired with raspberry accents and fresh white linens, creates a dramatic effect and a room that looks almost edible!

Ultimately, so many people choose brown because it connotes comfort and richness, much like its edible counterpart. We want the spaces we live in to make us feel good, and really, what makes you feel better than chocolate?

Is there any such thing as neutral?

Our guest post today is by Beth Burns, who loves lattes and chocolates, sometimes with blues and even the occasional pink in her office. . .
Beyond White LLC - the right color for the right space
serving some of her favorite neighborhoods of Virginia and Maryland
and grateful student of IACC-NA.

Is there any such thing as neutral?

Switzerland was neutral during WWII. But this so-called "neutrality" caused tremendous impact - the opposite of what you'd consider a neutral response. Shouldn't neutral be calm? (One article called them dull and uneventful.) So it is with neutral colors - they are anything but. Because they do make a statement - bold or boring, serene or loud.
Neutrals can't even be located on a color wheel. They're off the chart - literally. Black, white, gray - and some say brown and tan, though others call those "near neutrals." Mix two complementary - opposite - colors on the color wheel and you get a neutral. Orange and blue make a neutral - brown. How odd. Can odd be neutral?

An on-line "House Beautiful" article asked some designers for their "go to" neutral paint colors. One chose a rich black-brown, Benjamin Moore Wenge AF-180. The designer said it looks like dark, bitter chocolate. Imagine walking into a room with dark chocolate walls. Would the room feel neutral to you? (It would send me on a chocolate hunt, but that's a different subject.)
Another chosen paint color was Ben Moore's Pale Vista 2029-60 - light spring green. The color wheel tells us green is not neutral, because there it is on the wheel. To be fair, the designer said he "uses" pale vista as a neutral. Of course he knows the definition. He found a light color that works in many spaces. In common vernacular, neutrals are more than complement mixers; they are colors that can be used with many other colors as workable backgrounds
This example, using "smoky lavender with both refinement and sex appeal" is obviously not a neutral by definition, but by the way it's used.(source)

Tammy, a PhD biologist who describes herself as color-challenged, emailed me the other day and told me she didn't "get" neutrals. "What are they?" she asked. "Every beige I see is warm or cool, but theoretically, shouldn't neutral be neither?"
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Yes, Tammy, there are true neutrals. But any choice we make evokes a response, from ourselves and our viewers. So Switzerland - and lattes, browns and grays - may by definition be labeled neutral - but their impact is anything but.
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Balancing Color

Denise, our guest blogger for today, is the editor of bellisblog, a graphic designer and runs a letterpress business on the side. Quite a multi-talented lady!

Balancing Color

Orange, bright pink and yellow. Sounds like a color disaster waiting to happen, doesn’t it! Not necessarily, not if they’re balanced.

A request for bright orange or pink walls came from my 13-year-old stepdaughter. She was tired of the circa 1970 wood paneling in her bedroom and I couldn’t blame her.
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It did look like the inside of a VFW Post!
Armed with paint swatches she collected from many visits to the hardware store, she planned to paint two walls orange (or pink, she wasn’t sure) and two walls white. Her thinking was that if she did all four orange (or pink) it would be too much and the white would brighten it up. Her instinct was to balance it: two in one color and two in another. She didn’t consider BOTH orange and pink, way too much, right?! Until she asked me what I thought! Being the color-obsessed freak I am, I took off on a color lesson.
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We had just purchased a floral basket for her grandmother, so we took a look at how Mother Nature does color. There were little pale yellow flowers with a punch of bright pink in the middle and just a hint of orange on the petals. The pink was so strong that there didn’t need to be much of it to make an impact and the pale yellow petals worked nicely as a neutral. You barely noticed the orange. But without it, the flower would have been too plain.
We changed her plan to one wall bright pink and the remaining three in pale yellow with orange as an accent throughout.
It worked!, and this is why:
  1. You can create visual balance without literally doing equal amounts. It won’t take much of a bold color to balance out a softer color.
  2. Think three and go for asymmetrical balance, it feels more natural.
  3. Neutrals are important because they give your eye a place to rest. The bolder the color, the more important it is to have that visual resting place.
  4. Look to nature for color inspiration. Mother Nature has been at the color game far longer than any of us, she has a lot to teach.
It’s been a year and my stepdaughter still loves her room. And so does her little feathered roommate, who’s partial to pale yellow as well.

Hot Hotel Color

Today's guest post is by Mary-Frances Cimo, a color designer serving fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. In her own words, "I’ve been fascinated with interior color since I was a little girl. In college, I was famous for splatter-painting dorm rooms to match roommate bedspreads. The rest is history."

Hot Hotel Color
What’s it like being a Color Designer in the most colorful city in the America? Absolutely fascinating. Every imploded hotel is briefly mourned in anticipation of the next architectural marvel.

This past week, I had the chance to visit two iconic but vastly different hotels—the Hard Rock Hotel and Wynn Las Vegas.
Website screen shots from both hotels- can you guess which is which?
The Hard Rock caters to a younger, hip crowd seeking the rockstar lifestyle for a weekend.
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From a color perspective, I was mildly disappointed.
The walls are a sickly yellowish-green, complemented by purple curtains (the hotel’s signature color). The carpeting is pale green, while the accent chair is reminiscent of worn miniature golf turf. I’m not sure if they converted these rooms from another color scheme, but the greens did not work together at all. The colors did not make me feel like spending a lot of time in this room.
Now to the bathroom:
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The sickly yellowish-green did not work in the bedroom, let alone in the bathroom. With the fluorescent lighting, the color felt muddied and dirty—not words I’d want to be associated with a bathroom. In addition, greens are not flattering to the skin in a place where women are applying makeup. Did you catch the airplane lavatory theme with the tiny stainless steel sink, and yes, that’s a push-button toilet in the background.

Wynn Las Vegas caters to an entirely different clientele. It seeks to attract worldly travelers who want to be pampered in an opulent atmosphere.
Wynn image removed by request
While I didn’t stay at Wynn this time, I had a chance to capture their wonderfully colorful d├ęcor.
The designers of Wynn chose this warm chocolate brown hue offset by elaborate creamy white trim. There is color everywhere. Notice the contemporary flowers around the archway. You can also see the cool mint green column on the right.
Newer casinos like Wynn are incorporating windows as a design element to bring nature and natural light into the space.
The deep red rug incorporates the same flowers as the archway above. The warm and cool mix of colors creates a lively, yet welcoming space. Extravagant, yes, but it’s not intimidating or stuffy at all. Imagine the difference if the marble floors weren’t broken up by this splash of color.

Your home may not look like the hottest new resorts, but you can take cues from these color hits and misses to create the space you love.

interior images by Mary-Frances