Color to inspire your design ideas

Waking up to a beautiful, wintry world blanketed in white, my thoughts turn to the power of color. Color in nature (which, in the Capital Region, will likely be limited to shades of gray for the next few weeks); color in food (nothing quite like a vibrant yellow Indian curry for warming a mid-winter chill); and color in home decor and paint.

As I look around my home space–which was beautifully reborn last year with help from Teakwood–I reflect on all the colors that surround me, and recall the design inspiration for the chosen hues (which number no fewer than 10 paint colors on our walls, in a modest home of six rooms). During our whole-home renovation, we were intent on using this new blank slate of a space to make fresh design decisions, including departing from the safe whites and off-whites we’d had on our walls for years.

But choosing a new palette of paint colors ended up being an exercise in soul-searching. For years, I’d torn pages from magazines that depicted homes decorated in styles and colors that appealed to me. These pictures ranged from coastal cottages painted in whites and serene seafoam pastels, to Craftsman bungalows dressed in darker woodsy tones. I’d carry my bundle of pictures with me everywhere during the renovation, trying to recreate these spaces, trying to decide “dark” versus “light”, “neutral” versus “colorful”. Countless consecutive Sundays would find me at the local Sherwin-Williams store, poring over all the options, always leaving with stacks of color swatch cards, but making little progress in finding my favorites. It was daunting.

Returning home, I’d scatter the swatches on the living room rug, waiting for an epiphany while pacing, squinting, head-tilting, turning more lights on, then off, leaving the room and walking back in, even hoping one of the cats would paw at a swatch…waiting for the right mix of colors to choose me, from the many samples staring up from the rug.

And then it clicked: The rug. The area rug. A colorful Persian-style piece whose rich reds, greens, and blues on a warm golden background I had fallen in love with a decade ago, for its inviting colors, subtle pattern, and timeless style. Why not take color cues for paint colors from this beloved rug? After all, the rug would be in our living room, the home’s heart, open to and viewable from the kitchen, the dining area, and the master suite. Taking inspiration from this multi-colored rug made it much simpler to rule in certain colors and color families, while others–like those serene seafoam pastels–needed to be relegated to the reject pile, or put aside for other projects. Once the colors for the living room were chosen, it helped to drive decisions on complementary colors for the neighboring rooms, to unify and visually enlarge our home’s open spaces.

Creating your home’s or a single room’s palette from an inspiration piece–like an area rug–is just one of several ways to make choosing paint colors less puzzling. Why not turn to your wardrobe for clues on your preferences? Chances are, the colors you wear are those you enjoy, feel comforted by, and that reflect your personality and sense of style, as has been the case for many Teakwood clients in rooms like their kitchens. Do you have particularly fond memories of a travel destination? Then recreate that place in your own home with paint color and design accents, as these Teakwood clients did with their Tuscan wine cellar.

Using white to emphasize architectural elements–such as built-in cabinetry, moldings and millwork–is a great way to bring attention to these details in your home. Using white on your walls instead of color also creates a sense of calm in a space, or serves as an effective backdrop for colorful artwork, furnishings, or other decor.

Have fun finding your colors. Many paint manufacturer and decorating websites have easy-to-use tools to help you visualize interiors or exteriors in certain colors before you commit. Pittsburgh Paints has even created a fun and revealing interactive game to help you find your “inner color.”

Be inspired by color and share with us your design ideas, tips and tricks for bringing color into your home!