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Monday, May 3, 2010

When Even Your Best Guess Requires a Do-Over!

It's a well known fact in the color community that we color professionals either experiment excessively with our own homes or ignore them until we can't bear to look at them anymore. I have until recently, fallen into the latter category. It's also a fact that even we can misjudge a color. When our family moved to Montclair Village almost a decade ago, I had the entire interior repainted. While I had some education in interior design, I was a stay-at-home mom at the time. I had not yet stumbled upon the incomparable training of the International Association of Color Consultants (IACC-NA) nor had I any interest in going back to work. I quickly picked out colors for each room and ended up without any major disasters despite the fact that I did not know how to test colors and was in a hurry-well, I was 7 months pregnant with a toddler under foot! It took awhile to find the perfect glossy red for my dining room but other than that, I was very motivated. I was eager to cover up a house of wall paper; wild jungle paper, flocked paper, wall paper with waterfall pictures and dingy, dingy paint everywhere else. At first the painter was dismayed and angry about all the colors I picked out and couldn't figure out why I wanted each room a distinct color. After he finished, he saw the end results of my strange choices and asked me to do color consulting for him! With baby number 2 on the way, I politely declined. Guess it must have planted a seed in my head for future days! The jungle wallpaper entry and hallway was painted a warm white at the time because it was my answer to flowing things in regard to the other rooms meeting up with it. I also thought it would make the heavy wood presence throughout the entry and hallway calm down a bit.
Fast forward nearly a decade. One son is now in middle school and the other is more than halfway through elementary school. I was about to host a school fundraiser recently and looked in dismay at my now blotchy, dirty white entry and hallway. Although people are frequently over to our home, this dinner set me on edge as many of these folks had not been in my house........ yet they know I'm a colorist-yikes, what poor advertising! I set about testing and imagining new colors. I settled on gold-green Henderson Buff (HC-15) from Benjamin Moore. I loved how it modernized the overwhelming oranegish oak paneling. I was also intrigued by Bainbridge Blue (749) and took a leap of faith on this deep blue for a bold accent. My trusty painter Carlos showed up and within a few hours my hallway was transformed! Carlos and I agree it looked lovely! Then as night falls, I am shocked as my hallway slowly turns bright greenish! This didn't show on my test boards. While I realized this color has a lot of green, I underestimated how that will amplify in a small, dark room where it will reflect off itself. Aha! I've heard of this happening but now I'm seeing it! Also, my husband mentions that he had changed out all the bulbs in that area of the house to compact fluorescent bulbs. So we are basically adding a layer of blue to the yellow which equals more green. Even my kids express surprise at the color shift!
While I distractedly attended my Photoshop class that night, my dear, patient husband went out and picked up a few different packages of incandescent bulbs. Don't get me wrong, we are quite environmental-but the compact bulbs will have to take up residence in other rooms for now. While the Henderson Buff definitely looked less green under new lighting, it still looks like a stronger color than I had anticipated, even the next day in natural light. I still love it, just not on ALL the walls. More testing and planning.....I decided to redo two walls in Revere Pewter to cut down on the strength (much grayer than pictured here).
Carlos patiently returned and finished applying the new paint within an hour. It immediately made a huge difference! I still get the strong colors I want without the intensity. I am reminded that picking and testing colors is taking an educated guess, no guarantees. Glad this guess ended up a win. Next to go is the taupe in the adjoining living room, stay tuned!


Unknown said...

Such great points, Marie! This color thing has scientific elements, but it is not an exact science! I haven't used Henderson Buff yet - probably because it always appears a little green-y to me. :) Chestertown Buff is becoming one of my favorites...has a little more gold in it.
Anyway...your entry now looks LOVELY. What an interesting combination, to bring that silvery Revere Pewter in! Definitely helps to cool down all that warm wood, and makes the space very modern.

Thanks for sharing your story. :)

Unknown said...

our houses are a bit like science labs, aren't they? funny how, if this is what you do for a living, you either repaint constantly, or sit on it for years.
love the transformation, especially the little details like the windows

Karena said...


Looking beautiful!! I love your choices and I too am ever experimenting with color and design! Come visit!

Art by Karena

DesignTies said...

There are so many things to take into consideration when you choose a paint colour. More than once, I've finished painting a room, hated how the colour looked, and painted it again. The worst was when I painted a room with orangey wood trim a blue-grey. That was before I took colour theory and learned that complementary colours enhance each other. I wanted to downplay the orange trim, not make it appearmmore orange.

Looks like you came up with a great solution for your colour dilemma :-)