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Understanding Undertones

Vancouver’s Colour Expert asks: Does your Colour Consultant understand Beige?

By 10/09/2009January 26th, 201722 Comments

Yesterday I arrived at a consultation and my client (who was a referral) said “I know you chose a lot of colour for my friend’s condo, but I prefer neutrals”.  It had me realize that some people have the perception that neutrals do not fall into the category of ‘colour’.  I’m here to tell you that anything from the palest off-white (okay maybe not the palest) to beige to sundried tomato red  [in my world] is adding colour to the walls.  See my posts on beige here and here.

flickr – Greens can be neutral, they go with everything!

And you should also know that it is not unusual to have the perception that a colour consultant only understands ‘colour’ and not ‘beige’.  As a  new colour consultant [a very long time ago] I also thought that not only was it my job to choose a  ‘colour’ for every room but also that it was my job to pick a new colour for every room.  Now I don’t pick a new colour/neutral for a new room unless there is a very good reason to do so.

flickr – Many shades of yellow beige fall into this category!

This means, if I’m in the laundry room, and have already chosen 5 colours for the house in other spaces before we got to this room, I ask my client, “Is there a colour that we already have that you could see in here?” Sometimes I can get too efficient so that’s when I check in with my client and ask “Should we repeat a colour here, or is that just boring?”  There is a fine line between picking enough colour, and choosing too much so that the house becomes a kaleidoscope of colours!

flickr –  all the neutrals can be found in stones on the beach

The right neutral or colours chosen from nature (a sexier way of looking at beige) creates a feeling, and it’s so wonderful when it’s right, and so hard to live with when it’s wrong.

flickr – wow you can’t say all colours cannot be found in nature!

Email me at [email protected] for more  information on what an on-line colour consultation looks like!

Related posts:
What everyone should know about Beige
How to choose the right Beige
The Difference between an experienced Colourist and a Novice

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  • The Polished Pebble says:

    Hi Maria, enjoy your posts so much! Pebbles are the best inspiration for color as are most things in nature.

    No color is really boring, as long as it is used appropriately and the person who sees it each day wakes up and says "wow" I love this. That is true sunshine! Maybe sunshine is the new "beige".

    warmest regards~*~kelley

  • Jane says:

    Hi Maria
    This is a wonderful post!

    When I first began decorating my homes…many years ago…I thought of beige as something to be avoided because it was blah!. Now, I have my favorite room painted in the most wonderful shade.With all the natural light and the hardwood floors, this room exudes warmth. And it gives me a blank palette to change the decor with the seasons. It is the room to which all guests gravitate. So glad I learned…
    Jane (artfully graced)

  • Swapna Raghu Sanand says:

    What beautiful pics and thought provoking words of wisdom! I am one of the few women who love beige and wear it or end up buying beige colored bags or rugs or curtains or whatever. I think it is such a classy, becoming color but I've heard so many friends telling me it's boring. I don't agree.

    What I found most thought provoking were these words from your post, "The right neutral or colours chosen from nature (a sexier way of looking at beige) creates a feeling, and it’s so wonderful when it’s right, and so hard to live with when it’s wrong."

    I think it applies not just to colours but to many other facets in life too. Loved this post, waiting for more!

  • Heartfire At Home says:

    Hi Maria,

    You certainly can get the best inspiration for colour straight from Nature can't you! Those photos are divine…..such beautiful choices to illustrate what you're saying.

    I'm doing a short post on 'green' soon, and that top photo may be too irrestible!!

    It's interesting that some people think that by calling in a colour consultant they're going to end up with brighter colours everywhere rather than neutrals if that's what they really want!

    On the other hand I have people say with the utmost finality, 'Beige, no way am I having beige, that's only for scared people who don't know how to use colour properly!'.

    Thanks for visiting my patch of the blog world!

    Linda. xx 🙂

  • Soma Pradhan says:

    I love your blog, this post is great! As a designer I often veer towards neutrals and get so worked up over it, I feel like I'm being disappointing by not finding a spectacular "color" for every space! I'm going to read this every time I have this moment again!

    Thank you!

  • Carol Ann says:

    The stones on the beach picture is amazing…
    Using all the neutrals for a room is the most challenging and rewarding design ever, I do not get to do it often enough…great post
    Regards, Carol Ann

  • Ruthies Renewed Treasured says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous photography. Great illustration of how color can change a room drastically if we choose the right neutral with the right intensity and hue even if it is "beige".

  • Tammy@InStitches says:

    The comment about the laundry room is funny to me because my whole house was sienna sand when I bought it and just this week I was thinking about painting the laundry room a bright color ! I keep all my son's artwork from school on the walls in there !

  • Karena says:

    The stones on the beach and the clouds in the sky. My kind of image for inspiration!

  • My Domicile Style says:

    I love the last picture, as it really incorporates all the colors in my bedroom. I know it sounds crazy, but it works with all my mid-century furniture.

  • Kelly, Arte Styling says:

    Interesting post, Maria! I think there are still a number of people that are concerned that a color consultant will "make" them use a lot of loud, highly saturated colors in the home – that "color", like you said, doesn't equate to anything subtle. I think, in general, we need to be more careful about using the term "neutral." We often use the terms "natural" and "neutral" interchangeably when describing colors. But nature does not equate to neutral, as you've so brilliantly displayed in your images. (Stay tuned for my guest post on Hue's blog for more on this very topic!)
    Thanks for the fun read!

  • Ideezine says:

    In my experience with color consults I've noticed: If the person has a colorful personality then neutrals calm them down and keep them balanced. If the person has a shy/timid personality brighter colors prompt them to come out of their shell, so to speak. It's great to see this process play out right in front of your eyes.


  • Kara says:

    Loved this post. I decided to use one main color in my house thinking it would make the house seem continuous. I think this post just confirms what I was thinking.

  • OL' PAINTING says:

    I love neutrals! It’s hard to go wrong with colour pallet taken from nature! Right shades look luxuries and relaxing.

  • Pam Kersting says:

    Maria, You are so wise! And the photographs were fabulous!

  • AB HOME Interiors says:

    GREAT POST. Oops had my caps on, sorry to shout! I so agree. Beige can make all the difference in an otherwise white house, so can a lovely grey.
    Where are you at with Mary's course? Did you get a time set up? I still have not called her. I have been so busy and a very hectic November coming up I decided to wait. Im also having my annual warehouse sale in November and hope it yields some cold hard cash. Im going to highpoint next week. If you go let me know!

  • Ivy Lane says:

    I love this post…and agree with the fact that all neutrals can be found on the beach…color too!

    So simple..yet..NOT!!! You have a challenging job Maria!

  • Lauren says:

    you're so good! when i hear people say things like "beige is boring" or they're sick or seeing it or whatever, it makes me want to scream "not if it's done right!!!!" The right shade can be so sophisticated & perfect with good design!! love the pic of the stones.

    hope you're having a fun weekend!!

  • Fifi Flowers says:

    LOVE that photo with eggs in the nest!

  • Eliana Tomás says:

    you have beautiful collection of photographs in here. they're all very inspiring.
    And beige goes beautifully with black.
    The right shade of beige decorates really well a wall with gold details.

  • Developing Designs says:

    Again, another great post. And your selection of photos are amazing. Nature is so inspirational, especially if you really have your eyes open to it. It is amazing what we can create when we take the time to listen to and learn from it. I had the pleasure of listening Lori Weitzner, a very talented textile/wallpaper designer whom creates scrumptious products. She spoke of how so many of her designs come from seeing and breathing, being a part of, and noticing nature. Absolutely sexier! Right on. xo Laura

  • Cristina Acosta says:

    Great post about working with clients and using neutral colors. Good work!

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