Whenever I give colour advice on this blog (which is often), I inevitably receive a comment from a reader who will generously post their advice or opinion, and then end with, “Colour is a personal choice”.
The other day, I got to thinking about this highly overused phrase, and I realized that there are times when colour should be a personal choice. When you are buying a car for example. That’s an individual colour choice that won’t impact anything else combined with it.
However, if you are choosing colour and it needs to be combined with other colours, that’s when having a guide to choose the right colour is kinda critical.
I’m also asserting (don’t hurt me) that designers often use this phrase when they don’t know how to guide their clients to the right colour. So they simply say, “Colour is personal.” If you are a designer reading this, it probably doesn’t apply to you, but to everyone else. ; )
My fabulous design assistant, Tricia, worked in commercial art for ten years, where she noticed a similar tendency. She’s taking over the blog today to debunk the myth about colour always being a personal choice, and to share some ideas about how to make informed colour choices.
Maria’s right: a popular comment on this blog is, “Colour is a personal choice.”
And yes, colour is highly personal, psychological, and even emotional. But that doesn’t mean you can just slather your mood all over the walls of your house. It might start to feel… psychological.
Red Room by Josh Kitney
I’ve spent the last ten years in commercial art. In the gallery, every day we hear clients say, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.”
Increasingly, contemporary art is about context—that is, where it fits into the various dialogues about what art is. If you are not aware of these contexts (and they are many and disputed!), you will have no criteria for judging art except by what appeals to your eye.
If it matters to you whether you’re investing in a relevant piece of art that will retain its value, and you don’t have time to make a career of it, you need to find a professional dealer or consultant you trust. This is the best way to find something that both appeals to you and has some quality and relevance.
Design Nancy Braithwaite
For similar reasons, choosing colour for your space is not as easy as picking your favourite colour. It’s about context, too. Thankfully, the context here is more concrete, and there is a whole lot less BS to wade through.
Still, there are many factors to consider:
What are the undertones of my fixed elements?
What do I want to draw attention to?
What do I want to make disappear?
How will the colour coordinate with my furniture and flow with the rest of the space?
If the way your space looks matters to you, you can agonize with uncertainty trying to anticipate outcomes and making your best guess, or you can run your preferences by a professional consultant and get not only something you like, but also the best colour solution for your space.
Veranda via Pinterest
The only time that picking a paint colour feels like picking your favourite candy at the corner store is when you have nothing to go on. No starting point, no plan. And maybe you’re blissfully unaware that it needs to work with your tile.
This is why you need a plan, some context. Your favorite colour should absolutely be part of the plan, but it’s very likely not your paint colour. It probably belongs on your couch, or a throw pillow, or maybe in your carefully curated art collection.
You might be surprised that the colour that works best to offset the things you like is a soft grey or cream—something that never, ever would jump out at you in the candy store. You are not being boring. Its just might be the best solution for your space.
And sometimes you just need someone with experience to reduce your options and guide you to the right answer.
Understandably, people who don’t make design or art their lifelong focus underestimate the complexity of it. I’m here to tell you there is more to it than meets the eye.
Developing an eye for art or design is a long and convoluted process.
Those amazing rooms don’t just make themselves.
Of course, personal expression is a big part of collecting art or decorating your space, but getting the right advice can take you that much further with your vision.
P.S. I’m excited to announce my new Interior Colour Solutions, similar to the Exterior Colour Solutions I launched last spring.
If your renovation or new build has come to a screeching halt because you don’t know which colour is right for your countertops, walls, cabinets, etc., go here to find the solution that will give you the answer you need!
I’m starting these at a low introductory price which may go up as soon as we get a true sense of how long they will take.
My colour advice comes from conducting literally thousands of consultations over the last 15 years, 7 years of writing this blog about colour, and my proprietary system of Understanding Undertones™, which is taught nowhere else in the world.
My system has saved clients all over the world from expensive colour mistakes. Will you be next? Click here to get colour happiness.
Get the advice you need here to make your home a work of art!