Dare to Color Outside the Lines?

david-pisnoy-660309-unsplashWhat better way is there to emerge from a cold and gray New England winter than to welcome spring with vibrant, blooming colors?

Dove grays and whispers of lavender are cool, elegant and sophisticated, but why not break free with a splash of Pantone’s Color of the Year, Living Coral, last year’s Ultra Violet, or that teal or fuchsia that you see hanging in your closet reflecting your favorite outfits and color.

Some of us are old enough to recall what a game-changer Disney’s “Wonderful World of Color” was, a kaleidoscope of color bursting from a black-and-white world. The excitement also reflected the fertile, free-wheeling imagination of Walt Disney.

Start with the exterior. Some things you can’t change: your foundation, brick front, stone, stucco, clapboard or gray shingles. But, unless in a historic district with restrictions, and without repainting the whole house, why not highlight your front door with Chinese lacquer red, sunshine yellow or something fun from the Crayola crayon box. Just make sure it harmonizes with the static materials (get a second opinion if unsure).


If the exterior needs a total refresh, avoid the white-with black-shutters old New England standard. Drive around and see what you like, look at decorating magazines. Think about the “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco—there’s nothing stodgy or staid about Victorian paint colors. (Since repainting your home is a major investment, work closely with a designer such as the pros at 3W so you don’t make an expensive, off-color mistake.)

Pop a Shot of Color

If your interior décor is stuck in neutral but you’re timid about change, rev it up with living color in small doses. Choose accessories in hues like daffodil, tulip red, plum, or whatever strikes your fancy to get you going. Boost the wattage in your contemporary condo with a sizzling electric blue or neon green ottoman or cube.

candy-1961536_1920Pops of color can be very effective in cabinetry and built-ins. Put a burgundy brocade fabric or wallpaper behind bookshelves, or robin’s-egg blue above fresh white wainscoting.

Think you have to limit deep, saturated colors to large rooms? Think again.

“Conventional wisdom states that small spaces — especially those facing north — should be lightened to increase the sense of space,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. (They’re the people behind the Color of the Year.)

“However, painting trim a lighter color in an area painted with darker hues can actually increase the illusion of space,” she said, because it creates a “greater impression of height or width in the space.”

(For more on color and its power to change your environment and mood, see the January 2019 blog post, Design Trends for 2019.)

If you’re ready to bust outside of your color comfort zone, it’s time to look at paint samples: big ones. Get a quart-sized paint can and paint a couple of coats of big swaths on poster board and hang it on the wall in a couple of places. See how the color changes at different times of day.

Beware of the Dark Side

If you’re considering going to the dark side of colors, here are a few important caveats, and these are reasons enough to justify hiring professionals. If your walls are uneven, have layers of old paint on them, or have been patched, leave surface prep and painting to a pro. Although it seems counter-intuitive, darker paint reveals unevenness and surface flaws more easily than lighter shades. This includes uneven paint application and even brush strokes, particularly if the paint has a sheen.

Besides preparing the wall for painting very carefully to smooth out any imperfections, choose the highest quality and count on applying multiple coats. Your consultant at 3W design has the professionals to do the job right and protect your investment.

interior-colorsOf course, not everyone has a fear of dark colors; some people love them. If you’re in that camp, then, by all means, drench your home in saturated colors. Emerald and jade, sapphire, garnet, aquamarine and antique golds can make your home feel more luxurious and psychologically comforting.

Whether in distinct punches through art or accessories, or full-on peacock mode in furnishings and wall coverings, a blaze of color is one sure way to banish the winter blues and grays to welcome spring!

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