Fun with color! Part III

Part III – Interior Colors


In the last post we talked about selecting exterior colors.  This post will focus on choosing interior colors.

If you survived the process of selecting exterior colors for your home you will be relieved to know that there are several aspects of interior color selection that are much more user-friendly than working outside.  First of all, interior color selection can come much later in the construction process (typically at the end), so you will have actual spaces to stand in and visualize as you make your choices.  Next, there are typically fewer elements whose colors can’t be changed on the inside than there are on the exterior.  With the exception of countertops, cabinets, and tile, most interior finishes are painted or stained, and thus you have more flexibility.  Finally, it is much easier (and less expensive) to change the color of an interior space, so the pressure is off to get it perfect.

Repeating a theme from the overview on color selection, color is essentially free character.  While some home styles might point towards fewer interior colors, most homes are well served with a vibrant and diverse interior color palette.

Before choosing specific colors, consider the general character or feel you are looking to achieve.  Do you want the entire first floor to feel like one big open space?  If so, maybe a single color makes sense.  Would you prefer to have the common rooms all feel distinctly defined?  Even in an open plan this is possible, by painting each space a separate color.  In this case, the colors of the adjacent rooms may want to coordinate.

0628-4 living : dining

The use of a single wall color makes this kitchen, dining, and living area all feel like a single large space.

Trim and ceiling colors are a great way to provide a common theme in a multi-color interior palette.  For example, a white trim color through out the house will work with virtually any room color and provide a consistent character for the house.  Similarly, you can use a common wall color for two adjacent rooms with different colors for accents or wainscot finish.

1040-11 dining room

This dining room and living room have different lower wall colors, distinguishing the spaces from one another, while a common upper wall color unites the color palette. 

An accent wall is another great way to introduce color (and thus character) to the interior of your home.  Celebrating specific surfaces is a more modern design approach than the traditional strategy of emphasizing specific volumes or spaces.

1041 hearth

The blue accent walls at the stair and front entry emphasize the layering of space in this modern home interior.

Similar to the exterior color selection process, there are several elements and materials to coordinate with your color choices.  Fortunately, in dealing with  interior colors, most of these elements are selected later in the process, and in most cases samples are available to use in helping you coordinate colors.  Countertops and tile are among the most critical.  As with exterior selections, start with the materials that have the fewest options and build around those.

0313-2 kitchen This two-color scheme was inspired by several elements:  The accent wall in the kitchen provides contrast from the cabinets while the gable wall color mediates between the various wood species present in the space.

Perhaps the best way to get started is to look for inspiration; either on line, in magazines, driving around your neighborhood, or at the paint store.   Finding that inspiration or vision will help you to make choices that are consistent and complimentary to the character of your home.  Don’t be afraid to be bold…. And again, have fun with it!

– Shawn Buehler, Principal

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