Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Right Color in the Right Place - Interior Strategies

The Accent Color Problem

Many people use an accent color on everything that's not a wall, whether or not it deserves the attention. The result is that the eye goes to the wrong places, often focusing on unattractive details instead of seeing the room as a harmonious whole. Improper accenting also can be detrimental to the architecture when it detracts from the intended focal point in a room, makes the room look smaller or makes the sceiling look lower.
Poor Paint Color Accenting
In this picture you see what usually happens. It's the "before" picture in a house where I was asked to do a staging consultation to advise how to get it ready to go on the market.

The ceilings are eight feet high and they'd originally been painted stark white in an attempt to make them seem taller so that the rooms would look more spacious. Unfortunately, that particular white didn't work well with the taupe walls because of both the color and the high contrast. It also made the rooms look cold and uninviting.

In addition to the color issues, improper accenting put the emphasis on the wrong things, like the skimpy stair railing and baseboards, the vents and switch plates, as well as several doors. Note, too, how the white baseboards cut off part of the wall, making it seem shorter and lowering the ceiling.

There were other color placement problems in this house that this picture doesn't show:
  • When I opened the front door, I faced the white door to a badly placed coat closet directly opposite in the very small foyer. That glaring white door was a shock and an unintentional barrier, not a welcome, so I suggested it be painted in the wall color so that a visitor's eye would travel to the living room on the right, instead of stopping abruptly at the closet.
  • The long wall to the right of the stairs in the picture has three doors that also were painted white, turning them into still more undesirable attention-grabbers. I recommended that two of the doors (one to a storage closet and one to the utility room) be painted in the wall color to make them look like part of the wall, so the room would look less "chopped up". The door to the powder room was left white.
To create a warmer, more elegant (and photogenic) interior, I also suggested that
  • the ceiling be painted a near white version of the wall color, instead of stark white, to add warmth and coordinate better with the walls.
  • the baseboards, vent, railing cap, door bell chime and switches be repainted with the wall color. Painting the baseboards in the taupe instantly raised the ceiling.
  • the narrow white stair railing and faux gold brackets be painted black to look like wrought iron, and make them appear more substantial.
  • a small wrought iron chandelier be moved to replace the flush mounted, builder grade light you see, and two small, inexpensive coordinating lights be used in the stairwell.
When I discussed these ideas with the owners, it was as if a light bulb went on and they could see the room for the first time. They agreed with the recommendations, gave us an enthusiastic go-ahead and Roger got to work. The house was to be listed the minute he was finished, but it looked so good in progress, a buyer snapped it up and immediately started moving in. I'm sorry, but you're going to have to use your imagination about the finished product, because the house quickly filled with their belongings and I wasn't able to take "after" pictures.

This small project illustrates the power of color selection and placement to solve design problems and change an ordinary result into one that transforms (and sells).

Have A Plan for Accenting
When you're planning a painting project, analyze the good and bad features of every room, and develop a plan. Make certain that everything you choose to accent truly deserves the spotlight, and use this list to help identify things you might want to camouflage.
  • Vents
  • Switch plates, unless you have special ones
    Vent and Hallway Door Painted in the Wall Color
  • Plug plates
  • Crown molding three inches wide, or less
  • Crown molding in rooms with low ceilings
  • Baseboards three inches wide, or less
  • Baseboards made of a plain board
  • Baseboards made of quarter round trim
  • Baseboards in rooms with low ceilings
  • Closet doors in small hallways.

Our Free Color and Detailing Consultation
When you hire us to do your painting, we include a color and detailing consultation at no charge. This unique service, along with Roger's exceptional workmanship and the use of premium quality materials, transformed the house in this story. We can do the same for your house.

If you have an interior or exterior painting project in mind, call me to talk about it and schedule an estimate.  828-692-4355

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