The other day while in a clients home discussing kitchen finishes, she announced “I’m going in this direction with the hardware because I want to mix it up a bit’. And I realized in that moment that there was a post in that statement because there is a danger in doing that. Not like ‘mixing it up’ is wrong at all, just be careful when you are selecting permanent finishes for your home that you don’t go too far to the extreme of doing something ‘creative’ or ‘new’.
Whenever I have specified a colour even slightly different from what I know it should be because I’m bored—that’s when it’s usually not as perfect as I would have liked.
I know what it should be and I specify a colour I haven’t seen up before because I’m thinking, ‘Been there, done that, let’s try something new.’ In those cases, I arrive later and think “Note to self”.
That is where the danger is. And the following is where it may apply to your house:
You look at your kitchen finishes, for example. If you have been staring at plain old arborite or formica countertops for 20 years, now you may be thinking; granite. But then, you order it, don’t quite get the colour right or you decide in the end that it’s now too busy but it’s installed. Forever. In your kitchen. Permanently.
I recently had this conversation with a couple who were planning their kitchen renovation. The granite they were considering was gray and murky but the existing colours in their home were soft yellows and purples. I asked why they had chosen that granite and they said it seemed more ‘interesting’ than quartz because their existing kitchen had a very plain, solid colour arborite countertop. I pulled out quartz samples and recommended a wonderful stone backsplash with slight veining throughout and suggested they substitute the flooring tile for the same wood flooring that was in the rest of their house. I also showed them all the colours that would work with their new finishes, now that the countertop was lighter, there were many more options and they sighed with relief and happiness. The new finishes were so much more in line with the look and feel they were after.
If you have a brand new kitchen and you are not singing the hallelujah chorus every time you walk in, (like my sister who’s white kitchen is now finished, pictures to follow) well this might be exactly what happened (maybe).
When it comes to design and colour, we always go to the opposite extreme. It’s why white is the new brown in kitchen cabinets. And it’s why white will go back to dark after the gray and white trend comes to an end.
If you have had plain, boring old tile as a backsplash or NO backsplash for years and years, now you think, ‘let’s go with that snazzy new and trendy horizontal tile. But then you install it and it screams ‘look at me, look at me’ and your heart sinks.
A few years ago, I had a client who asked me to present her with some new fabrics for custom drapery and bedding for her master bedroom. And because she had been staring at blue and white angled horizontal striped drapery for 20 years and she said she did not want to see another stripe. Now that colour blocking is so big, that request is easy to pull off, but I had a hard time back then pulling a traditional looking palette of coordinating fabrics together without a stripe–which goes with everything–which always works. And are there stripes that would look miles different from the one she had been looking at? Of course. But it goes back to what I said earlier. We want the OPPOSITE of what we’ve had, and that can sometimes backfire.
There are so many tiny decisions that lead up to the overall look and feel of any space, therefore, the question you need to keep asking yourself is, “Am I trying to get too creative here?” When it comes to permanent fixtures, simple and clean with only one element (instead of many) that jumps out saying ‘look at me, look at me’ is always better.
Many times, I have walked into a condo with a tiny 4 x 4 tiled entry and immediately to the right or left is the kitchen and instead of taking the same tile through the small galley kitchen, the designer or homeowner tried painstakingly to ‘coordinate’ with the tile in the entry and failed. It’s almost impossible to match one patterned tile with another one. Better to not try and get that ‘creative’ in the first place and choose the obvious and simple option instead, the same tile.
And one more thing, if you are agonizing over whether your interesting looking backsplash actually coordinates with your countertop, my guess is, it probably doesn’t. When the colour is right, it’s obvious to everyone.
It’s All in the Undertones, download my eBook here. (If you have a computer you can download my book).
To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!
If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.