Follow the expert and pick the paint that suits you
AS ANY OF THE POPULAR shelter magazines or cable decorating shows will tell you, the quickest way to improve your home's appearance is to find a great paint swatch, grab a brush and bucket, and make some bold strokes. Knowing that, it's no surprise to hear that painting was one of the first items on the agenda when nationally recognized color expert Leatrice Eiseman moved into her Bainbridge Island home six years ago.
At first, she and her husband, Herb, added a few windows and skylights to bring in more light. Then they enlarged the master bedroom and kicked out the wall a bit in the dining room to create a gracious entertaining space. But there was never any doubt that their 2,700-square-foot home would display rich hues and bold color choices from the periwinkle blue of their bedroom to the claret red of the home's exterior. "I'm an evangelist for people using colors in our Northwest environment that evoke warmth. The winters can be gray and dull, but inside my house I've created sunshine."
"Some people are quicker to adopt new color trends, because that's who they are," she says. "And then there are others who are more traditional." But gradually, trend colors do reach a tipping point and enjoy a wider acceptance. Suddenly, the citrine green of the film character Shrek looks good on everything from T-shirts to table linens.
Color forecasts are developed two years out, so the shades of blues that are now being featured in the marketplace aqua, cobalt, periwinkle and eggplant were predicted to have popularity even before the new millennium began.
"We knew that blue would be a strong color. If you give people a word association, the deeper blues are associated with outer space and the heavens," Eiseman says. "Blue is also the color we associate with tranquility and serenity. And that brings comfort to a lot of people. There is a general fear factor that is at the end of any century, and from a psychological standpoint it was blue's time to come back."
Eiseman works with a variety of other design professionals, from many industries, to project how all these influences will affect products for the home. Then she works with Pantone to prepare each year's Home Color Forecast. For 2004, she has scoped seven palettes reflecting the influences of the environment, multicultural mixes, cosmetics, candy, the beach, antiques, quilts and comfort foods.
After all, you can always paint it again.
HELP FROM THE BOOKS
It can feel like there are almost as many books about colors as there are paint chips at the home-improvement store. Here are a few recommendations:
"Colors for Your Every Mood: Discover Your True Decorating Colors" by Leatrice Eiseman (Capitol Books, Inc., $29.95). A primer on using color, including color history and psychology, as well as 150 color combinations to help create the mood you desire.
"Think Color: Rooms to Live In" by Tricia Guild, Elspeth Thompson and photographer James Merrell (Chronicle Books, $40). The latest in a series of color books offers a modern approach to using color in a bold way.
"Decorating with Color, The Best of Martha Stewart Living" by editors of Martha Stewart Living (Clarkson N. Potter, $22). Very Martha, of course. All the palettes that you've come to know and love, including the pastel hues of Stewart's Araucana chicken eggs.
"Debbie Travis' Painted House: More Than 35 Quick and Easy Finishes for Walls, Floors, and Furniture" by Debbie Travis, Barbara Dingle (Three Rivers Press, $19.95). The latest in Travis' books gives step-by-step methods for a variety of different finishes for walls and floors, furniture, trim and accessories.
Robin Fogel Avni is a free-lance writer specializing in lifestyle issues and trends affected by technology. Her e-mail is email@example.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.
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