I was invited by Style at Home to be on a Twitter chat about colour a few weeks ago and one of the questions the editors asked was “What’s your biggest mistake choosing colour” and I immediately chimed in with “I have a few” and immediately listed three:
So here they are, with a few more just for fun:
1. The first mistake happened during one of my very first consultations. I chose a colour for the walls and then went down the strip to the lightest one and specified it for the trim colour.
The trim just looked dirty. There’s a reason trim colours are usually in the realm of white and cream, it’s because you need contrast. I’ll be talking about this and much more in my white eBook that I’m launching very soon.
The homeowner was such a good sport about it too. I’ll never forget what he said “I like painting trim, so I’ll probably repaint this very soon just to keep it fresh”.
The only example I have to show you is an existing exterior where I noticed the same thing had happened with this homeowners colours. The actual colours so you can compare are in this post.
2. And then once I did the reverse of what I’m showing (above) for exterior. I chose a darker colour this time than the house so I went one shade down on the colour strip. This was for the tudor style woodwork on a home to downplay how much trim the house had and the result was, it just wasn’t dark enough.
Two to three shades darker is where you should be looking for exterior.
3. For a booth in a large stadium I chose a mid-tone blue-green colour that looked mint green once it was up.
Lesson of the day, a display booth with no ceiling and lots of bad flourescent lighting needs to be much darker to get the colour you want.
4. Another mistake I made, very early in my colour career was with flow.
A homeowner who was building a house and buying all new furniture, (as many people do when they build or renovate) asked me to choose colours. Paint colour is needed whether you have furniture or not.
I chose a random palette of probably 15 different colours. In those days, I thought it was my job to pick a different colour for every room in the house.
‘Should we repeat this colour here?’ Was a phrase I learned with experience.
Helping a client create a starting point first, was a skill I discovered later.
5. I have blogged about this mistake before, but a common one that designers, contractors and builders make every single day is this one:
They get bored with specifying the same thing every day of their life because it’s the trend and everyone wants the same thing and they get creative at the expense of the homeowner.
The ONLY people that should get creative with hard finishes are designers decorating for HGTV (above). There’s nothing timeless about those kitchens and bathrooms filled with up-to-the-minute trendy tile that everyone loves for 5 minutes. Okay, maybe not 5 minutes, but certainly not for more than 2-5 years.
In the beginning, I often specified a ‘different’ colour then the one I knew I should have chosen because I’m thinking “Well I haven’t seen this colour so let’s try it”.
Then, I would come back later after the walls were painted and think “Note to self, don’t do that AGAIN, it could have been perfect”.
So now, I don’t do that anymore. Every client who’s looking for white walls or the perfect greige or whatever they need for their house, well that’s what they get, to the best of my ability. Even if it seems like it’s the ONLY colour in the fan deck.
6. Matching paint colour to wood finishes.
Image via Dwell
When I first started out, I specified a lot of butterscotch colours because I would walk into an empty house or apartment and look around, desperate for inspiration and finding none would choose a colour that related to the honey oak or fir floor (which was common back then). Here’s a link to my little sisters first apartment I decorated using this same misguided method way back then, haha.
Five years after I’d chosen colours for one particular client, I went back to a clients townhouse to choose drapery for her living room. She was willing to repaint the walls and I walked in and noticed that all the walls were orange-beige.
“Yes, we’ll need to re-paint”, I immediately said.
Working in the paint store, when a customer would walk in looking for paint colours, the first thing they would do is start describing the colour of their wood stained furniture in their bedroom or living room.
“But what’s the colour of your sofa, duvet, carpet?” was my response.
There are many more mistakes I’ve made but I’ve covered them in so many posts that I’m leaving it this recap today.
How do you know you’re an expert? Because you have a long list of mistakes you made to get to where you are now.
What’s the biggest mistake with colour you’ve ever made?
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