What Colors Are You Living Today?


We live in a world of color, which has the power to lift our mood, express ourselves, brand our lifestyle and even tell us whether we’re celebrating or commemorating. It’s part of our vocabulary: he’s feeling blue, she turned red, blushing pink with pride, purple with anger and so on.

“When 80% of human experience is filtered through the eyes, we understand that the choice of color is critical,” according to the authority on colors, the Pantone Color Institute (www.pantone.com).

The 2018 Pantone Color of the Year is Ultra Violet. What does this mean? It means you can expect to see ultraviolet in everything from paint colors to furniture and accessories to fashion. (Oddly enough, our eyes can’t see actual ultra violet light.)

Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute Leatrice Eiseman describes Pantone 18-3838 as, “A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade,” which communicates “originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking,” Eiseman says.

Founded in 1962, Pantone created the Pantone Matching System (PMS), ensuring consistency of color in printing ink, paint and fabrics. Along the way the company made predicting color trends into an artful science, forecasting and influencing what color dresses, appliances, even cars we’ll be seeing, and creating brand palettes for clients based on color psychology.

Although there was no official color of the year back then, the fact that colors trend in popularity over time explains why you can see an avocado or harvest gold kitchen and immediately think “Sixties.”

Color is universal. Recognize any of these? What do they make you think of?

  • Minion Yellow (yes, it’s a thing!)
  • Fire-engine red
  • Emerald green
  • Tiffany Blue (see Pantone.com for the backstory)

Now picture the institutional green of old hospitals and prisons, and battleship gray.

What is color – really?

It starts with light, which is made up of waves of electromagnetic radiation on a spectrum. light-and-colorIt was Isaac Newton who discovered that focusing light through a prism broke the waves up into separate colors: the seven colors of the rainbow. Of course, he didn’t think of them as waves, but each color is a different wavelength, with violet being the shortest at 380 nanometers.

According to Eiseman, Ultra Violet is complex because purple is a blend of colors from the opposite ends of the spectrum. Red is a warm color, and blue is on the cool end of the spectrum. What’s important is how you want to feel in that room.

When you think neutral, you think of white (in endless variations) and beige (which doesn’t have to be boring, and with a spoonful of cream can be nice and warm). But any HGTV fan knows that gray is the new beige, from dove, to fog, to silvery blue-ish, to sophisticated pewter, dramatic charcoal, and “greige.”

If you’ve ever stared at the bewildering array of 2X2 sample chips in a paint department, you know how frustrating finding the right color can be. That’s where 3W design, inc. can help.

Nurseries and kids’ rooms have run the gamut, from baby blue and rose pink to gender-neutral sunny or butterscotch yellow, to primal primaries. Chalkboard paint comes in assorted colors now, so kids can show their true colors.

Dark typically conveys drama. Chocolate brown had its day; recent saturated colors have included aubergine (the expensive name for eggplant) or cobalt blue. Think twice before rolling an entire room in one of these colors—try an accent wall first.

Houzz.com warns that yellow can be “tricky.” Though you may love it on that paint chip, on the wall it may be too intense. The pros at Houzz recommend selecting a hue that’s paint-colorsalmost beige; it will look much brighter on the wall.

Can you picture your traditional home with ultra violet walls? Maybe not. But as an accent color alongside other jewel tones (magenta, emerald) in fringed silk drapes, it could make for a dramatic late-Victorian parlor.

Thinking spring? For that fresh-as-a-daisy look, consider a spring palette of green (perhaps the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year, Greenery) and white, with a splash of pink or rose, and/or daffodil yellow.

What is color but reflected light? That’s why it’s vital to get a large-sized color sample, put it on the wall, and examine it at various times of day. Small paint jars make it easy to slap on swatches without committing to a gallon. (Be sure to get the sample in the same finish—flat/matte/eggshell or satin or gloss—that you plan on using.)

Just as there are people with an ear for music and those who are tone deaf, some people have an eye for color and others do not. And just as with music, harmony is key. That’s why working with a design professional when building, remodeling and decorating can make all the difference.

Crisp white trim is always in style, for example. But some palettes—khaki and browns– are better suited to off-white with a splash of cream. A cool gray palette needs trim with the slightest dusting of gray. It makes a difference.

Best of all, with paint there’s no fear of commitment. If you made a mistake, or when it’s time for a change, you just paint over it!

Though one person’s puce is another person’s carmine, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: life would be awfully dull without colors!

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