Color schemes are many. Color schemes evoke a mood or convey an atmosphere. They certainly can and often are responsible for imagined temperatures and/or seasonal sensations. What constitutes a pleasing color scheme? What constitutes pleasing? It all comes down to balance, layering and subsequent interest. It takes a enlightened eye and usually cannot be achieved by accident.
We are nearing completion of a living room that incorporates many design elements. Family heirloom antiques add a vintage touch along with the architectural style of the bungalow home. Contrasting these pieces is a sleek-lined, modern, sofa that we found and reupholstered. And while not driven or influenced by current color trends, we selected a scheme derived from the existing Persian rugs. By extracting the blue and white from the patterns to refresh the interior – a classic, timeless color combination – we blended a wonderful scheme. Finding the common denominator(s) blue and white, we sought to anchor all with this consistent theme. Differing patterns provided additional layering and interest.
Then, just last week while dashing through the DCA terminal for SWA, my eye caught the attention of several magazine covers all featuring blue and white schemes! Always in vogue, but not always featured as the cover story, this coincidental (or not) collection of blue and white photo images was a riot! I was forced to snap a few shots to send to my happy blue and white client.
If I described a new master bath remodel project as all white, I wonder what might come to mind. All whites are not created equal and the variation is startling when you see them in context, adjacent to one another. So here is the easiest example. A fan-deck from Sherwin Williams shows a collection of whites. They “read” very differently from one to the next. Yet taken one at a time – isolated from the rest – each would seem to be just plain white. Notice too how they differ from the white paper upon which they are printed – it is the spacing between the color chips – and even the white fabric upon which they were placed for the photo!
But there is really no such thing as “just plain white.” Once seen next to another, their unique qualities of hue come into play. A yellow white is creamy, while a cool white reads blue. It’s the context that makes the color more legible. Without that they could be assumed and accepted to be merely “white.”
So, in this recent color scheme nearing completion, whites in context show their many colors. At first glance and if asked, one would say “the room is all white.”
Upon closer inspection (photos taken from a different angle seconds apart), that simplicity is replaced by a more complex, heightened level of awareness. This complexity is what adds interest and results in a better finished product than a true monochrome. What was a collection of white materials, in this master bath, is truly revealed as shades of white varying from ever so soft celadon to cream and grey to what might be read as actual “white” white.
Don’t trust your eye when it comes to color. Discover how paint on walls changes all through the day. Artificial light-sources alter the way a color appears. Context with other colors alters the way one perceives color. Color is fun! Colors are fun! When designing interiors, enjoy the process of layering and the varying effects colors have on each other. Simplicity is usually not really simple. That term can be deceptive. Making it look that way is an art. Encourage the enjoyment of discovery.