Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Color. Don't Be Scared.


Things are really jumping over here at the Chateau!  Appliances are arriving at a breakneck pace, all of the infrastructure is completed and we are in finishes and fixtures mode.  Which means it is time to return to our conversation about color and paint.

Remember when I shared with you my personal philosophies about paint and use of color in a home? Well, we've been making some serious design choices over here!  I love that we have been able to continue to be passionate about color in this house, and feel strongly that we are making choices that feel organic to us and will be colors we will be excited to live with for many many years to come.

Because I have written about Sherwin-Williams being the paint we have chosen to use in the house, they were kind enough to invite me to their annual presentation at the Merchandise Mart to announce their new colors and colors they see as being on trend for 2016.  Since it was right around the time we were beginning to make design decisions, it was perfect timing and I was excited to see what they were presenting.

To say that Colormix 2016 was inspirational is a vast understatement.  It began with a description of their color experts four influence categories, which they defined as:

Pura Vida (pure life):  colors inspired by the elements that remind us to live well, be well, and stay well.  Colors that are designed to flow in spaces that are about serenity.

Mas Amor Por Favor (more love please!):  Colors inspired by social gatherings, garden parties, outdoor weddings, playful holidays, with heavy influence of floral elements.  The kinds of colors you use in rooms where you want energy and connection.

Nouveau Narrative:  Colors inspired by the current levels of industrial evolution, the repurposing and reuse of older machinery because it is better built than some of the new stuff.  Rugged strong colors that stand the test of time.

Trajectory:  Colors inspired by the pace of technology, how the boundaries between art, science and commerce continue to blur.

When I listened to their experts explain how these various color palettes worked together, and why the colors connect in the ways they do, I realized that it would be enormously helpful in looking at the color choices we were confronted with.

So we decided to really go for it, and see if using these four categories could make our decisions easer.  And boy did it!  We literally chose every color for the spaces out of these four groupings and even though in some rooms we chose different specific colors (lighting changes color a great deal, so even though you think a swatch is the right one, you still want to test several colors in that arena before committing.  Here was what we ended up with!

 Pura Vida:  Serenity spaces.  This palette is a lot of greys and beiges with earthy elements.  When we looked at some of our spaces, the smaller guest bedroom, the pantry and kitchen library...those are the rooms that felt like they should have that element of serenity about them.  So when we began to think about design in those spaces, the colors became clear.

The first serene space is the smaller of the two guest bedrooms.  This is the room we call The Paris Room, one wall is going to be a floor to ceiling antique map of Paris, and we wanted the space to be a cosy little room that would remind guests of a perfect pied a terre.  So we wanted a pale gray to keep the room from feeling closed in.  Useful Gray from the Pura Vida was our inspiration, but it didn't shock us when Light French Gray became the final choice, it seemed just too perfect!

Then, we looked at the pantry and kitchen library, because those are my happy spaces and by their nature bring me that sense of calm and well-bring this palette is going for.  The deepest color in their list was Urbane Bronze, a deep dark chocolate brown with just a hint of dark gray in it.  The minute we saw the sample in those spaces it just sang, so both the pantry and kitchen library got that gorgeous rich color.

When it came to my office, that was one space that felt a little bit conflicted.  On the one hand, the Nouveau Narrative certainly seemed like a natural fit, since my whole working life is about New Narratives.  But there was also an energy in Mas Amor Por Favor that I felt was invigorating creatively.  Luckily, I'm a Gemini, and very much an AND girl instead of an OR girl, so I found that space best served with a little bit of both!  For the walls, I was inspired by the Mas Amor Tansy Green, a bright green with a bit of mossy olive in it that seemed like it would be an energizing color to work in.  The exiting part?  Not even using that color in paint...we are upholstering the walls in velvet that color!  I know, sounds nutty, but I've never had that special "Room of one's own", and loved the idea of the color having that tactile cushion to it.  Then I saw pictures of this room, and knew I was right!

Green velvet walls here I come!  Doesn't that look lush???

 I also loved the deep glow of the Relic Bronze Metallic from Nouveau Narrative.  There is a wonderful tray ceiling in my office and I have a vintage chandelier that I wanted to use in that space, so painting the inside of the tray in the Relic Bronze Metallic would create a wonderful warm glow overhead that I just know will keep the stories coming.

Nouveau Narrative had many other treasures for us!

For the den, which is a large room that has a lot of furniture and rugs with strong colors, we wanted something to balance all of that out, give it a mellow background.  Morris Room Gray turned out to be the perfect color, a medium-light tone of gray with a slight undertone of green that will be a gorgeous foundation for the furniture, which is all in browns, burgundies, dark greens, brass and glass.  The second guest bedroom is pretty large and is getting a massive suite of wood furniture, much of which is English Arts and Crafts, so that room feels a little British to us.  The deep almost-navy blue in this palette called Naval was our inspiration, but because that room gets very little natural light, it got a little muddy.  We ended up with Honorable Blue, which is one tone lighter in the same family, and will be a terrific foundation color for that space.  Finally, in the kitchen, we needed a great color for the backsplash behind the stove, and what do you know, the brownish gray color called Backdrop was just perfect!

The final color we needed was for the first floor bathroom.  This is a showstopper formal space, and I really wanted to a bold rich color in here.   The peacock teal called Tempe Star in Trajectory was a wonderful jumping off point.  Here was my inspiration picture:

I just love the connection between the wood and the high gloss teal!
Tempe Star went a little too slate blue in the lighting in the bathroom, so we went with Oceanside which has a bit more brightness.

As before, all hallway spaces are Superwhite, and the ceilings (except for my office) are Ceiling Bright White, to make sure that there is visual breath as you move through the space.  We also went Superwhite in the kitchen because we wanted that space to feel light and airy in spite of the sheer volume of cabinetry and appliances being installed, so white was the obvious choice there.  Same reason we decided to do the bathroom on that level all white.

Once we had what we felt was a strong cohesive palette, we checked them all out together....

That is the green velvet for my office, and from top to bottom:

Morris Room Gray
Urbane Bronze
Honorable Blue
Light French Gray
Relic bronze Metallic

They are all friends, and once again, should flow well as you move from space to space with the moments of white linking them all together.

So, thank you to Sherwin-Williams once again, I had no idea that going to that Colormix 2016 presentation would so influential!

Have any of you ever been to something that really just inspired you to make some decisions for your home?

Can't wait to share more...stay tuned!

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath

PS  Just as an FYI, when I met the Sherwin-Williams folks and told them about the project, they were hugely supportive and have provided a small percentage of the paint for the project.  But all opinions are, as always my own and awfully heartfelt!


  1. We used an interior designer when we did a large scale remodel in CT and when we built our home in VA. The piece of advice she gave us that we were most skeptical about was painting our ceilings. I'm totally sold on it, now. Most of them are a few shades lighter than the color of the walls, with a couple of exceptions where we went white (for example, my office has a hot pink bathroom with white accents, so we did a white ceiling). To me it totally finishes a room. I will never not paint my ceilings and it's the one piece of advice I pass on to anyone building, renovating, or painting. Your home sounds beautiful as you've described it, but if there are a few rooms you're willing to take a risk in, consider it!

  2. A few years ago I went on a home tour, and one of the homes had slightly padded damask on the walls in the dining room. I've been curious ever since how you keep them clean?

    1. if properly installed, upholstered walls can actually be vacuumed with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum. I don't necessarily recommend the application for homes with pets (especially cats) or in spaces where kids spend a lot of time. Definitely not for everyone, but as I have neither pets nor kids and it is just for my office, it will hopefully be worth the risk!

  3. I love the colors you picked, especially for the bathroom... I think color choices also have to depend on the home - the style, location and room layouts... I live at the beach, in a multi-level house. Almost every room is up or down a few steps from each other, and there is very high ceilings and lots of angles. We were able to use different bright colors in each room. Sometimes it is like we live in a rainbow, but it works... But in our next project the location and style is completely different. We will never be able to or want to do the same type of colors again...