Anyone who knows me knows that I am not afraid of color. Bold and bright or soft and subtle, I enjoy working with them all. You can see it in the clothing I designed for years before becoming an interior decorator and home stager. So my advice in this post may come as a surprise to those who have never known me to go neutral. Of all the elements of interior design, color is perhaps the most provocative and evocative. Crisp white, calming blue or bold red can shift our feeling for a space. When I am working with design clients, paint color choices can offer the most personal and dramatic changes to a room. Generally the more saturated the color, the stronger the statement. Each person’s color preference is unique.
For this reason it is important to consider the colors in your home when you’re preparing it for sale. That favorite shade of red or lavender you find so appealing may be just what turns off a potential buyer. Even the intense trendy decorating colors for 2013, deep emerald or tangerine tango, can offend more conservative buyers. For this reason I recommend that clients consider neutral shades for walls, cabinetry and major pieces of furniture, using more intense colors as accent accessories, such as pillows or other objects. Many realtors may suggest you stay safe with basic white, but too much white can produce a very sterile environment that lacks the energetic appeal of home for buyers.
This is where the assistance of a professional home stager who is attuned to both the current trends in color and buyer tastes can be of benefit. The stager will also take into account the style of the home. What may be appropriate colors for a Colonial Cape with traditional moldings may not work for a modern vacation home or a rustic log cabin in the woods. I offer virtual mockups of color changes so my clients can see how these changes will affect final marketing images. Sometimes with a simple change of paint color, a room can go from dated to timeless in appearance.
With the pressures of daily life, most buyers are looking for move-in ready homes. Not having to think about paint colors can make the difference in their buying decision. The key is not to offend. Many buyers lack the imagination to visualize their own color preferences in a space that has strong colors. For the few who are not afraid of color, there is always the opportunity to leave their own mark on the space, but to do so in their own time. My color consulting skills can assist new home buyers in making color decisions that will suit them.
I do suggest that color be brought in with the use of paint or accessories. It’s always better to make your statements with features that can easily and relatively inexpensively changed, not with counter tops, bathroom fixtures or larger pieces of furniture. This is true whether you are selling your home in the near future or plan to live there for years to come. This leaves you the most flexibility for any future design changes you might want to make.
Today was the kind of drab gray day that is typical of this time of year in Maine. Snow melting on the ground, foggy air and leafless trees, damp and chill. The sun when it does shine stays low in the sky, so the light is weak even at mid-day. In this neutral colored world, I am reminded of how much I am fed by color. I know I am not alone in this need for rich saturated hues, whether they be the warmth of yellow, the passion of red, the cool depths of blue or the vibrancy of green. Did you ever notice how color affects your mood? On a gray day we may feel drab and gray ourselves. Sun and blue skies may uplift our mood. When I moved from California to Maine, I knew that the quality of light would shift dramatically in the long winters, so I painted the walls of my home warm sunny colors to offset the winter whites and grays. I am truly amazed that so many Maine homes have white walls when there is so much white here much of the year.
Color is reflected light and those light frequencies do resonate in us. We can actually be fed energetically by color. Likewise we can feel overwhelmed or jolted awake by color that is too intense or clashes with its surroundings. While we each may have our favorite color, there are properties to colors that are near universal. We see it reflected culturally in our use of language. We speak of seeing red when we are angry, having the blues when we are down or feeling golden when we feel enriched.
Notice what colors you have in your world. What does it say about who you are? Do the colors energize you, relax you or do you feel jarred or drained by them? Understanding how you react to color is vital to creating environments that are harmonious and effective for life and work. In one client’s office two walls were a khaki color, that felt oppressive and drab. Just shifting the shade to a clearer shade of celadon green lifted his mood while keeping a sense of calm in the space. Another client’s home office and meditation room had a large round red rug that filled the room. The magnetizing energy was overwhelming for the small 10’x10′ room, overpowering any sense of peacefulness that might have been created by the altar and furnishings. Putting a neutral rug in the space, especially a light colored one would brighten the room and create a sense of spaciousness and calm.
I am reminded of a great quote from master colorist, Georgia O’Keeffe in speaking about her paintings, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” Ultimately that’s where color affects us too. In the place that is beyond words. Our direct experience as a sensate being. Paying attention to how you color your world will help you in developing spaces that work for you on all levels.
If you would like help in coloring your world, I am available for consults, both on site and remotely.
For more information on the psychology of color these are some useful links.