03 April 2008

The Language of Color.

Farrow and Ball, "Pointing"

Approximately two weeks ago The Washington Post dedicated the entire Home section to paint color and what some top designers considered to be their favorites. I contributed "Woodlawn Blue" by Benjamin Moore for a Living Room and "Guilford Green" by Benjamin Moore for use in a kitchen. Following the home section feature, curiosity struck and I decided to set out on a quest to learn what are the most popular paint colors being sold by the "big" paint manufacturers these days. House Beautiful Magazine polled the largest paint companies and came up with some interesting results. While I like all of the top sellers presented, I must say I was surprised by the lack of "true" color. The best selling paints actually happen to be a collection of whites, neutrals, black and pinks. Go figure!

Choosing the right paint color for a room is crucial. We feel energized and uplifted by some colors, calmed and quieted by others. Color can change our perception of space; its intensity, tint, or shade influences our senses and our interpretations. Color has been proven to have a direct, physical effect on not only our emotions, but on our general sense of well being.

Immediately following a look at the best selling paint colors currently on the market, allow me to present "The Language of Colors" - the way in which everyday things, particularly in nature, inspire and effect us. According to paint manufacturing giant, Benjamin Moore, color has a variety of functions. Truly, they have something to say. A Benjamin Moore paint color has been chosen for each nature/color "inspiration". (Please refer to end of the caption below each "inspiration" for a complementary Benjamin and Moore paint color)

The final tidbit I would like to share is how one room, painted in three different paint colors, can take on a dramatically different "feel" depending on which paint color is on the walls of the room. It serves as proof that paint color in interior design is so important. I always say that the proper paint color, expertly applied, can transform any environment. When choosing a paint color for a room always go with your instinct and what complementary color you are most "drawn" to.

FARROW & BALL POINTING 2003: "Pointing is our number one best seller. It's named after the color of lime pointing in traditional brickwork and has a little yellowy warmth to it, which is why people love it. You can put it with pretty much anything —r ed, green, yellow, blue. Or it looks great in combination with other whites, to bring out shadow and depth in a monochromatic scheme." -Sarah Cole

Ralph Lauren Paints - "Cottonwood", TH29
Restoration Hardware - "Silver Sage"

SHERWIN-WILLIAMS DOVER WHITE SW6385: "Our most popular color is a very soft, warm, inviting white. It doesn't really matter what part of the country you're in —this always works. It has none of that icy coolness and pairs nicely with yellows, greens, reds, blues, and those new shades of plum and purple. As people see and collect more stuff, I think they want those items to be the focus in a room. That's why they keep coming back to white walls." -Rebecca Spak

C2 PAINT MILK MOUSTACHE C2-080: "Everyone is looking for a white that works with absolutely everything and is never going to fail you. This is not too gray, not too yellow. It doesn't do that pink thing. It's like fresh snow with the first shadow of sunset on it. The absolute bright whiteness is gone but it's still crystal clear, just softened so that it's not glaring." - Harry Adler

BEHR SWISS COFFEE 1812: "You know how Navajo White was big in the 1970s? Now it's Swiss Coffee — lighter, more airy, an off-white with subtle taupe undertones. It's really popular for trim because it has that little bit of color, which means it blends easily with colored walls. Bright white can be too intense. This is so much better alongside the muted, more sophisticated shades." - Quinn Larson

BENJAMIN MOORE WHITE DOVE OC-17: "The one color that people consistently pick for moldings and windows is White Dove. It has the softness of alabaster, with a little gray and a little yellow. For long-term livability, what helps is that yellow cast. Put it up against other colors and you'll see how well it works. It's practically universal." -Doty Horn
MARTHA STEWART COLORS FRENCH BULLDOG BLACK MS025: "For us, black is number one, and I think it's because it shows off other colors so well. People are probably using it for trim or for painting furniture. On the Big Island of Hawaii, there's an active volcano you can explore — I think of this paint as lava black, rich and earthy. I see it with khaki or tan. Great with gray. Beautiful with chartreuse or powder blue." -Kevin Sharkey
PRATT & LAMBERT DESIGNER WHITE 33-1: "Designer White is a very clean, bright white that will reflect any and all light. Often, people who don't want a lot of color use an off-white on the walls, with Designer White on the trim. It's a nice contrast, but sometimes it's not enough. If you want a little more impact, pair Designer White with tan or beige walls." -Peggy Van Allen


Pencil Shavings


Red stimulates the appetite, raises blood pressure, attracts attention, creates excitement, and takes control. It can be forceful, bold, extreme, aggressive, impulsive, and energetic. Red suggests physical strength, rejuvenation, self-confidence, love, passion, sensuousness, danger, courage, and vitality. It is the first color the eye sees upon awakening. Benjamin Moore, "Ravishing Red"

Black is enigmatic and mysterious. It is elegant, yet edgy, and exudes sophistication.
Black suggests dignity, power, worldliness, as well as aloofness. Benjamin Moore, "Toucan Black"

Gray lacks assertiveness, but suggests intelligence, guarded behavior, and a sense of discipline. Gray brings forth images of history, longevity, and strength. Gray is a chameleon of color. It's at home in any color scheme, and can blend and take on some of its neighbor's complementary shades.
Gray next to red will look green; next to green, it will look red. This quality makes gray a true neutral, and gives it the ability to work within any decor. Benjamin Moore, "Silver Mink"

Purple contains elements of surprise and magic. It is philosophical, and represents royalty.
Purple suggests romance, imagination, and passion. It suppresses the appetite, and eases the mind and overactive glands.
Purple fosters love, wisdom, reverence, inspiration, spirituality, an enlightened feeling, and quietness. It conveys elegance and artistic creativity. Benjamin Moore, "Southern Belle"

Yellow stimulates memory and mental clarity, with uplifting feelings of optimism, warmth, cheerfulness, wisdom, and brightness.
Yellow aids digestion, and stimulates circulation. It can also signal frustration and caution. Yellow is the most difficult color for the eye to process and see. Benjamin Moore, "Pure Joy"

White indicates purity, innocence, cleanliness, youth, naivete. It is wholesome and trustworthy, and imparts a sense of peace.
White is a classic. It can be utilitarian and somewhat stark, or heavenly beautiful.
White, in its infinite guises, enhances other colors. It is the foundation of many stylish palettes. Benjamin Moore, "White Heron" and "Dahlia"

Green confers a sense of relaxation and comfort. It represents health and prosperity, and refreshes the spirit. Green is the easiest color for the eye to see. Green is associated with balance, harmony, replenishment, heart health, growth, birth, envy, inexperience, wealth, refreshment, compassion, rejuvenation, balance, moderation, concentration, and security. Benjamin Moore, "Potpourri Green" and "Vine Green"

Blue is non-threatening, and is a symbol of trust and longevity. It is refreshing, soothing, calm, and dependable.
Blue is also known as anti-inflammatory, and can provide relief for insomnia and headaches. It slows metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and decreases heartburn and indigestion. Blue is associated with travel and leisure, authority and strength. Blue is also the most popular color in the United States. Benjamin Moore, "Electric Blue"

Brown conveys warmth and comfort. It expresses solidarity, and evokes less intense behavioral responses.
Brown is natural, and creates associations of the outdoors. Being from the orange family, brown creates positive food associations. It makes one think of cookies and cakes, ginger, and spices. Benjamin Moore, "Wynwood" and "Latte"

Orange is friendly, cheerful, and happy, associated with thirst and refreshment. It is an energy color that imparts movement. Orange creates a sense of order and equality without power and control. Orange is an antidepressant, conferring respiratory and intestinal health.
Orange decreases hostility and irritability, with a gregarious, jovial, and extroverted side. Benjamin Moore, "Pumpkin Blush" and "Pumpkin Cream"

One Room - Three Ways

Cool tones

Neutral Tones

Warm Tones