Saturday, January 19, 2008

Reader Design Dilemma-pulling rooms together

Oh goody, a new color dilemma! Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work. Reader Manisha wants our opinions on how to make her space cohesive and chic through the use of color. Here's the scoop:

I'm a first time home buyer, moved to Orange County, California from New York and am trying my hand at creating a comfortable and stylish space. I'm at work on our family room and wanted your advice on pulling the look together.
Our family room is an open space with our kitchen and I agonized over the paint color. It needs to work with our earthy granite (santa cecilia gold - flecks of beige, brown, maroon and black) and camel colored sofa. My comfort zone is painting in cocoa/caramelly tones. When I test it on a wall in the kitchen it looks great, but goes peachy on the family room wall. It's the most bizarre thing. I finally settled on a pale moss green, which you can see behind the sofa.
Granite counter-top
She's still not confident about the moss color- what do you think?
View of the kitchen from the family room. She would like to de-emphasize the cabinet color because they came out to be a bit more pink than she expected. I would definitely change out the color against the cabinets to tone down the pink factor. By contrasting green against the cabinets, you actually emphasize the pinkiness because red (pink) and green are complimentary colors, and therefore produce the maximum contrast between two colors. Perhaps try pulling a different color from your granite counter-top.

I also want to revamp the dingy brick fireplace but not sure if I should paint it or cover with a stone. We're planning on covering it with a honeyish limestone. Should the mantel be shiny, dark coffee color like the mirror that will go above it or should it be an antique white like the shelves?
I asked for some additional info, and learned that the room faces southeast and gets great light during the early part of the day but is shady for the better half. She wants to achieve a balanced mix between warm and cool tones.
Inspiration photos, provided by Manisha
The rug she loves.

As you can see, she liked neutrals, golds, and greens. To make a cohesive space, my one suggestion would be to look at the value of the object and colors she is bringing in. So, if the palette is pretty well-defined, as it seems it is, choosing colors is not an issue. Value refers to the range of darks to lights, from black to white and all the shades of gray in-between. A well-designed space takes this into consideration before color even enters the picture. Let me show you what I mean:By taking one of the inspiration photos with lovely copper, brown and green, and turning it into a black and white photo, you can clearly see the wide range in values, from darks to lights. This is the framework that makes a beautiful design work effectively.

As far as how she envisions using the space: she'd love for the room to appear bigger because they tend to spend quite a bit more time there (that's where the tv is). They have a beautiful backyard with lots of green trees visible and a rock garden waterfall that the previous owners put in. There's a light stone wall around the perimeter with yellow-green ivy all over it so she's planning to replace the current blinds with some simple silk panels off of dark bronze rods. Hm, I wonder if this is a great opportunity to bring some of the outdoors inside to incorporate those colors from the view. Going with mossy greens will certainly accomplish this.

She's got a lot to work with here, so I'm going to need your help to give her some great suggestions. To me, this is more of a designer question: how to bring everything together. There are some amazing designers (both professional, and design enthusiasts-you know who you are!) who read this blog. What are your thoughts?


Jennifer at Design Hole said...

I think you're spot-on, Rachel. The problem with the green sample is the value. There isn't enough contrast to lively up this room. Using the same value through-out flattens a space.

Here's what I would do. I like the moss green idea. Start there, but go 2 shades darker than the sample on the wall. Paint the wall with the shelves, too.

Next, paint the kitchen backsplash area taupe - in the same value as the green. If you look at the granite IRL, it has a lot of pink and taupe. You want to use that taupe hue. It will eliminate the pinky look. I've actually done this in a kitchen with the same granite, so I know it works. But if you really want to know what I think, I'd paint the cabinets a warm white.

Then, replace the brick around the fireplace with limestone. You'll have a beautiful, sophisticated look.

Finally, to test paint properly, paint 2 coats on a large piece of foam core, leaving white around the edges. Rachel knows better than I how colors set next to each other change the way our eyes perceive them. White is neutral and will give you a better idea of what the end result will look like. plus, you can move it around the room to see it in different light.

Good luck. Post the finished photos so we faithful HUE readers can see your beautiful room!

Manisha said...

Thank you both for all of your time and effort in providing me with solutions! I wish I had your expertise before I got impatient and painted last week because you were totally correct in that the paint color I had picked out is too light (and too peppy to go with the muted tones in the rug). The ICI Pale Moss came out looking minty and is not at all complimentary to the sofa pillows or rug. Argggh, back to sampling! I will definitely take a look at the deeper shade on the same chip. Do you think a LRV of 40-45 is in the right ballpark? I'm considering Banyan Tree on the same strip or Olive Branch a strip over. What taupe would you recommend in the same value?

Thanks again!!!

Cemaya said...

I really agree about painting the kitchen cabinets a warm white. Much more sophisticated to go with the furnishings.

Jennifer at Design Hole said...

I don't know what paint chips you're using, so you have to test. Also, take advantage of a great resource - your paint store. Don't go to Home Depot. Go to Benjamin Moore, or another specialty paint shop. They know how to mix colors. So they can advise you how a paint color will change if you go darker. One might turn grey (because they add black) another might turn blue. They can also help you out with the taupe. Ask to borrow their fan deck and match it to the granite.

Hope this helps!

Rachel said...

So true, it's really important to look at how a color changes in the specific lighting conditions of the space. Don't trust the color in a store- the fluorescent light will alter how the color looks. As Jen said, some greens have a gray undertone, others a blue, etc. and you just can't tell what will happen to it until you see it in the context of your space.

I'd like to clear up a common misconception- white is anything but neutral. It's about as brilliant as a color can get. I totally agree with the suggestion about painting large boards, or pieces of wood,to then move around the room during different times of the day. but do paint them all the way to the edge. if you really want to see the true nature of a color chip, it must be seen against a medium tone gray. Up against a bright white, the contrast is much too high, and will give the wrong impression of what the color will look like when it's up on your wall.

Anonymous said...

I thought Jennier at design hole ideas were great. I do recommend that you paint out a color on foam core to the edges as the contrast with white will influence your perceptions. And definitely agree that the cabinets should be painted a warm white.

Carrie said...

I curious as to where Manisha found that great inspiration rug, I love it.