This is Heidi, our Resident Interior Designer. Watch for more of her informative articles as a special guest in our Blog!
Interior Designer, Color Expert, E-Designer, Florist, Stager, Wife and Mother. Lover of texture, paint, mirrors, lighting, possibility and potential in your home.
I have a confession to make; I want it all. I love color and design so much I want to do all of it. I am still smitten with my awesome husband 13 years into marriage, but I can’t settle down to just one paint color or decor style for the next five years. I love the soft grays that have been everywhere for so long now. They’re so calming and they cool off the bright, intense sunlight that is prevalent here in the desert southwest. Anyone down for a dark green wall? Yes please. And my personal favorite, navy. Navy has a place in my heart for sure but also my home. Our living room is the most perfect color of navy, a stunning blue with lots of black in it to make it more serious.
Reality is, paint is a relatively inexpensive change for your home and has this magical ability to completely transform the way something looks, for the good or bad. This is where it gets interesting; there is so much going on in a paint can that it’s confusing to people, rightfully so. It is very easy to get paint wrong and that is why it can be such a crippling decision to make at times. I’m going to start a five part series talking about paint and how it works, and today we’re going to discuss undertones.
There are undertones in EVERYTHING and sometimes they fight, y’all. If you’ve ever looked at a painted room and thought that it looks off, then it just might be a problem with the undertones. Undertones, undertones, everywhere are undertones (sung along in my head to Tesla’s ‘Signs’). Sure, one of your finishes in your interior, maybe a countertop or highly patterned backsplash *might* be the bossy kid on the playground, but for a room to flow beautifully you need everyone to play nicely together. This is why it’s so important to work with the undertones.
Quick color lesson for you: you probably remember the three primary colors from elementary school, red, yellow and blue. Combine any two of the primaries and the one left over is the complement. For example, red+yellow= orange, so blue is its complement. Any time you’re working with complementary colors you get a very lively, jazzy result. Christmas colors are so bright and spirited because they are complimentary colors. If you’re looking for a calm, relaxing interior you need to stay STAY AWAY from undertones that will be compliments to each other on the color wheel. Do you have reddish brown cabinetry or flooring in your home? Then you need to avoid green beiges and green grays or else the end result will be off. Unless you want Christmas. All. Year. Long.
How can you know what you’re seeing on a paint chip? Well the end result of interior paint on walls is twice as light and bright as it is on the chip, and exterior paint is four times as light and bright as it is on the chip. The decks are stacked against us picking a fab-o color based on a chip. So here’s my advice for you: never make a choice based on what a chip looks like. You must always paint a large sample on the wall, a swatch large enough to know what you’re seeing and large enough to make sure it works with what is in the room, the bossiest kid on the seesaw, like cabinets and flooring.
Lastly, I know we’re taught not to compare ourselves to others. Comparison can be damaging to our self worth but it is essential in picking paint! Sometimes the only way you can expose a particular paint’s undertone is by comparing it to another paint color. Expose those blue undertones you’re going to hate in your gray BEFORE you paint by comparing, and the only way to do that is to look at the other colors in relation to the one you’re choosing. Let’s see if your gray paint makes your soft beige wall color (with orange undertones you didn’t know were there) look like a jazzy Denver Broncos type kitchen. No one wants that, especially when we all know the Kansas City Chiefs are clearly the best football team out there.
Notice in these four Dunn Edwards paint colors how they look changes when they’re compared to other different, various colors. I selected one gray and three lovely beiges out of their library. They’re all stunning colors when viewed alone without color comparison. When I moved the colors around and changed who they were next to, the color itself, the way it appeared, changed. In some cases Gray Pearl turned lavender and other times a soft blue. The beiges changed as well, Rincon Cove turned pink and Riverbed now appears yellow.
Make sure you’re adequately comparing your colors to expose its undertone before making a color selection, and also that your samples you’re using for comparison are large enough to see what is there. Next post will be on clean vs dirty colors and how they change the way everything as a whole looks in a room. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your week!
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