Hello, everyone! I’m Ellen Rhett, a former stockbroker now working as certified colour designer in Mountain Brook, Alabama. My work differs from that of an interior designer in that I am a fresh pair of eyes to help my clients with singular challenges: finding a perfect paint colour, for example, or tracking down a beautiful piece of statement art.
I have been a Maria Killam True Colour Expert since early 2011, and I’m the blogger behind “Color Calling” found at www.colorcalling.com
- What’s your favourite colour? Why?
Oh, my definite favorite is blue! Almost any shade of blue, really. The colour spectrum of French hydrangeas makes me swoon. Blue is my happy colour. Currently, I am loving the blues in the Colonial Williamsburg collection by Benjamin Moore, and I don’t think it gets much better than Palladian Blue on a porch ceiling!
2. What was your biggest colour/design mistake?
That would be the wallpaper I chose over a decade ago in my own master bath. It was heavy on the seaweed green (what I was thinking?), so it absorbed all the light out of the room. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, it clashed with the floors and counters. Of course, that was long before I took Maria’s colour course.
Now, I have a gorgeous room painted in Benjamin Moore’s Muslin, a beautiful colour that looks great with the existing travertine. Lesson here: nothing is worth the disappointment of living every single day with a bad decorating decision. Change it and move on!
This photograph reminds me of my own “new” bath:
- What is the most important colour lesson you’ve learned?
Dark rooms are going to go dingy with pale paint. Counterintuitive, I know, but Maria is totally right. When you have little or no natural light, you must use a colour with some intensity to bring the room to life. Don’t be afraid to jazz up an interior powder room or a laundry room with a shot of a dramatic colour you love!
- When it comes to colour, what’s hot?
Orange, used as an accent, maybe an accent chair or a great-looking lacquered chest. The colour of an Hermès box. But never use a colour you don’t already adore, no matter how hot it is!
5. Which colour do you think is timeless?
Blue and white together. It has been a classic forever. It has been my favorite since I was a young girl, and I don’t think it will ever go out of style. Case in point: my family’s summer retreat has a blue and white living room that I decorated 18 years ago, shown below. I still love it.
6. Which colour trend would you love to see disappear?
I am so over white on white on white. So few people can actually do this look correctly. It requires the perfect colour white on the walls, the perfect natural light, lots of layering, and lots of texture. When done properly, it is extremely photogenic, which is probably why we’ll keep seeing it on Pinterest and in magazines. This room, below, does everything right with white, because the wood tones ground the decór:
7. What do you think is one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make with colour?
Without a doubt, staining hardwood floors anything but plain medium brown.
A mid-tone brown stain will stand the test of time, and will serve as the canvas that showcases the rest of the home and its furnishings.
Orange-toned floors and orange-toned cabinets are by far the biggest colour mistakes I see, but many homeowners don’t see orange as a really dated colour for wood. A fresh set of professional eyes can go far toward avoiding, fixing, or minimizing too much orange wood.
8. What is the biggest hurdle people have to get over before contacting a colour designer?
But! Contacting a trained colour designer for a two-hour consultation, early in the process, will be the best $300-500 you will ever spend on your project. In addition to colour, we know how to specify timeless choices in countertops, tile, and flooring, and we can help you avoid an expensive mistake.
For example, a client several years ago wanted to stain all her hardwood floors a very dark ebony shade, even though her mid-tone floors were in great shape. She had been seeing dark floors everywhere in all the magazines and really wanted them, but I helped her understand that what she already had was timeless. That would have been a $10,000 mistake!
You will be living with a floor stain and your countertops for a decade, or even two, so it is money well spent to consult a professional first. We usually know which looks are going to stand the test of time and which looks are just trend-bait.
Another example? I’ve noticed a trend toward putting extremely large-scaled light fixtures in otherwise normal rooms. I was recently at a beautiful home for a luncheon, and one of the ladies clunked her head on the tremendously wide chandelier as she stood up to leave the table. It was entirely too big for the space!
Here is an example of a beautiful traditional dining room with a gorgeous, perfectly scaled light fixture:
9. Which part of participating in Specify Colour with Confidence™ created the biggest breakthrough for your business, and how did it help you move forward?
I hardly have to think about this question: the breakthrough moment was the discussion on colour harmony.
Although I have always been a decorating enthusiast, I came to Maria’s class with no formal interior design degree.
I was fascinated to learn her skill set from her years as a colour expert, and to benefit from her ability to create a timeless look and feel.
I loved learning about using colour flow to create colour harmony throughout the home.
You want all your colours to look like they belong in the same house.
I have found that this is especially important when helping a young couple in their first home, where all the rooms are close together.
Of course, my clients young and old all know that I am going to suggest a blue colour somewhere, if possible!
A huge thank you, Maria, for inviting me to be your guest blogger today!
Which colour trend is ‘over’ for you?
If you’d like to become the next True Colour Expert™ in your area register here.