Color Me Home Episode 1: Finding Inspiration

Welcome to Color Me Home! As a quick introduction, Color Me Home is a podcast about painting, decorating, creative projects, and whatever else happens to come up in the conversation. It’s hosted by Betsy Thompson and Dan Hansen from RepcoLite Paints.

This week Betsy and Dan discuss how to find the inspiration for your next color scheme. It often seems overwhelming to pick colors when you find yourself standing in front of a color display that offers over 3,000 varying tones and shades! But the good news is that finding inspiration is much easier than you might think!

Episode Outline

  • Nature (1:24)
  • Our Expanded Neighborhoods (3:24)
  • Our Existing Decor and Furniture (12:20)
  • Our Closets (15:54)
  • Magazines (19:07)
  • Your Own Photos (21:43)
  • Online Tools and Sources of Inspiration (25:15)
  • The Unusual and Unexpected (35:30)

Links for Online Tools and Sources of Inspiration

We spoke about a number of sites that we recommend for finding inspiration. Here are the links for everything we mentioned!

  • Design Seeds (browse 1000’s of photos/color schemes)
  • Houzz (browse 100’s of 1000’s of photos for inspiration)
  • Pictaculous (upload your own photos to create color schemes)
  • Easy RGB (to convert web-specific colors into Benjamin Moore color numbers!)

And here’s one more site we strongly, strongly recommend:

Palette Generator.com

palettegenerator
This site completely replaces Pictaculous (mentioned above). If we’d known about this one before we recorded our podcast, we’d have included it and left out Pictaculous. And here’s why: it’s way easier, it provides much better information, and, best of all, you can mark off a section of the photo you uploaded and only draw colors from that location! It is easily one of the best online sources for finding inspiration you’ll ever use–especially when you use it in conjunction with the EasyRGB site mentioned above. Below are just a few examples of color schemes Betsy put together based on her own photos and the color recommendations from palettegenerator.com!

The colors above came together quickly! And it was fun to do. Sure, the colors recommended by PaletteGenerator.com needed to be adjusted and toned down somewhat, but it still gave us some direction to get started. In fact, we both agreed that using the website was much quicker than even taking the photo to the store and trying to find colors to match. It’s a powerful tool to help you go from 1000’s of options down to just a few in literally seconds!

3 Reasons Why Simply White Simply Works

Bessler_2014

Photo by Bessler_2014

It’s old news, I know, but the color of 2016 is white. Yeah. White. Oh, technically it’s #OC-117 Simply White from Benjamin Moore, but, for all practical purposes, it’s white.

And that seems so profoundly . . . boring. White? The Benjamin Moore color system is home to over 3,500 bright, soft, wild, calming, deep, muted colors and the best they could come up with for 2016 was white?

A few months ago when the news came out, I thought it was crazy. The bold joke of some group of color professionals at Benjamin Moore who just didn’t care anymore. A group of people who, while sitting around sipping designer drinks, decided collectively: “let’s go into that meeting tomorrow and tell them white and see what happens! It’ll be hilarious!”

Yet, instead of being laughed out of whatever official color meeting took place, nobody got the joke and white was officially enshrined as the color of the year.

White?

That’s what I thought, anyway.

And then I saw some of the photos Benjamin Moore was using in their promotions. I read some of the explanations, the stories, the Narrative (with a capital “N”). And it started to make sense. Here are 3 reasons why I’ve changed my mind on Simply White.

Simplification

White simplifies. It declutters. It breathes a sense of calm, of peace, of cleanliness into a room. In this day and age of overwhelming visual stimulation, what’s needed most is often a simplification. A harbor. A space where visual overload isn’t allowed. A space where we can sit with a cup of coffee and the only distractions are the swirling snow outside the window and the gentle creaking of the hardwood when the furnace runs. White conveys that sense of calm, that sense of peace that is lacking in so much of our lives.

The Perfect Backdrop

White provides the perfect backdrop for all the other colors we use in our homes. As Ellen O’Neill, Benjamin Moore’s Creative Director, states in an interview with Architectural Digest: “When we were redesigning the showroom in the D&D Building, I said, ‘Just paint it all white because the story here is about all of our colors. And the best way to see those colors is in a white space.'”

What she’s getting at is this: white doesn’t compete for primacy. White’s content to take the backseat, to highlight another color, to direct all attention that way. In a space with white walls, any other color will gain strength, will stand out, can become the accent tone that gives a room it’s personality. And the beauty of it is that that color doesn’t need to be a vibrant orange, a deep blue, a dark red in order to do this. In a white room, that accent color can be as simple as a honey-hued stain on a couple of wood stools in a kitchen. Or the wooden beams on a ceiling. Or a slate gray countertop. Or a denim blue wall. Or a mossy green dresser. A white backdrop infuses each of these simple tones with a strength and a power in our decorating that they don’t have when surrounded by other colors.

Accommodating

Finally, white is imminently easy to work with. Working in a paint store and knowing the struggles many folks have when they try to find colors for their home, this is a very important point for me. Sure, design and style are important, but so is practicality. And Simply White is imminently practical. Why? Because it works in any decor. It adapts easily, fluidly, to whatever style you prefer. It can look rustic and it can look modern. It can work in a home where the desire is to create a lived-in, comfortable setting and it can work in a space where the goal is to create a pristine, almost clinical cleanliness. Few other colors are this accommodating. Few will look this good in so many settings with so little effort.

Making Home Feel Like Home

Benjamin Moore’s decision to make Simply White the color of the year was a bit of a surprise. And while at first it seemed like a choice devoid of serious thought, I’ve changed my mind. And on this particularly blustery winter day, I find myself drawn into the rooms in the photos. The simplicity, the clean lines, the natural tones…they make every one of those rooms feel, in a strange sense, like home. And that’s the point and power of paint, isn’t it?  To take a space that’s wrapped in something as impersonal and cold as drywall and plaster and turn it into something that feels like home.

 

3 Reasons to Go Neutral When Selling Your Home!

bedroom-1006526_1920My wife and I just bought a new home. And while everything ended well, the process of searching was not without its fair share of stress. However, despite all that, I discovered that touring many different homes and asking questions like “can we live here” was also very interesting and very eye-opening to me.

See, usually, I think and talk about paint and colors and decorating from the perspective of a homeowner who plans on staying in his or her home indefinitely. I generally talk about the importance of decorating with color, about putting your personality into your choices and all that. However, as I toured many of these homes, looking for one to purchase and move my family into, I kept thinking–over and over–how I wished the sellers had potentially put just a little bit less of themselves and their personality into the paint jobs.

As I said earlier, it was a bit of an eye-opener for me–and something that I failed to do myself in my own home–but it made me realize that when it comes to selling your home, neutral beats color almost every time. Here are just a few reasons:

1.  Color Often Requires a Repaint

Neutrals never do. Bold, interesting color schemes built around your furniture and decor are tremendously effective ways to infuse a home with life and personality. And if you’re staying there, that’s great. However, if you’re selling your home think about it: the colors are built around your furniture and your personality. New buyers look at them and think: “Wow, almost everything here will need to be repainted before we can put our stuff in here.”

Neutral colors, on the other hand, may not pop with personality or excitement, but neither do they leave a prospective buyer thinking “repaint, repaint, repaint” as she walks from room to room to room.

On the other hand, touring homes with neutral colors, I found myself saying:  “We could put some color in this room down the line, but,” (and here’s the money-line), “but, we can move in with it just like it is.”

Repainting a room, in reality, is not a big project, but that doesn’t stop many people from thinking of it has a huge undertaking. When you fill your “For Sale” home with color, many prospective buyers walk out with an idea that a lot of work and expense is required before the home will be ready for their stuff. When you paint with neutrals, the home is move-in ready.

2.  Color Is Personal

Neutral, on the other hand, allows for multiple personalities (in a good way). Color reflects our personality, our moods. Colors on the wall of a room help to determine the atmosphere of that room–how we feel about it and how we feel in it. When you decorate your “For Sale” home in colors, you are setting the tone for a given space based on how you feel about it, on your personality.

Decorating in neutrals, however, gives the prospective buyers the complete freedom to customize that room to fit their family, their moods, their personality. Remember:  when people go through your home, you want them to feel as if it could be theirs. When you’ve got your personal favorite color combinations spread thickly on every wall, it becomes a little harder for folks to picture themselves in your home. Neutrals on the walls allows the many folks with many different personalities who tour your home to each potentially picture it as theirs.

3.  Colors On the Wall Present a Finished Work

Neutrals provide a blank canvas to work on. Don’t assume that neutral colors are boring and that using them means your home won’t have any appeal. You can still introduce color and flair to your decorating through the use of accessories. This is perfect because it shows that your home provides an interesting setting, full of color and life. However, prospective buyers immediately realize that when those items are removed, they’ve got a blank canvas to put their own mark on.

My wife and I saw this over and over. Certain homes we toured had neutral walls and colorful accessories–and while we maybe weren’t interested in the colors used, we spent many nights dreaming about how we could bring our colors into that home in accessories and furniture we bought, painted, or brought with us.

We weren’t thinking about the work of repainting rooms. We were thinking instead about moving in and buying new decor that would help us spread our colors and personality through the home should we buy it. There is a night-and-day difference between those two modes of thinking. If you, as a seller, have people leave your home after a walk-through dreaming about the new decor they can purchase or bring with them, you’re way ahead of the seller who’s prospective buyers leave wondering how much it’s going to cost to cover the lime green bathroom walls.

Of course, color works when selling homes.  Of course, neutrals aren’t the only way to go.  However, I bring up these points because I was struck over and over by the ease with which I could picture my family and I living in the homes that were largely neutral.  Conversely, I was surprised how often we left the homes full of trendy colors and said things like “that house looked cool, but it definitely didn’t fit our personality.”

It’s color–it can be covered over.  And I know that.  Still, I found it hard to overcome the natural tendency to see someone else’s color scheme as theirs, not mine.

Bottom line?  Think about it!  If you’re selling your home and you’re repainting, why not opt for some neutral tones? It might help you get your house off the market quicker!

Paint Colors, Light Bulbs and John Boomsma

boomsma2The other day, I received a call from the Manager at our Jenison RepcoLite, John Boomsma (see inset).  He had just run into a crazy situation in the store and figured I could make use of the information on our blog.

John explained that he had received a phone call earlier in the week from a customer who was extremely frustrated.  She was at a loss–didn’t know what to do.  See, she had just painted two rooms in her home.  As most people do when getting ready to paint, she had agonized for a few days or weeks over colors.

Finally, after much effort and after asking her family 100 times which color they liked the most (and then opting for the color she liked the best despite what they said), she painted both rooms.

And that’s when things got weird.

In room 1, she loved the color.  It was perfect.  It blended with the fabrics, the carpet, the trim and so on.  It was exactly the look she had wanted.

However, she was shocked to discover that she hated room 2.  The color looked terrible with the fabrics, the carpet, the trim, and so on.

The weird thing?  The color was the same in both rooms.  So was the fabric.  And the carpet.  And the trim.  Identical rooms painted with the exact same color out of the exact same gallon and room 1 looked beautiful and room 2 looked terrible.

So she called RepcoLite in Jenison where she bought the paint, wanting to know what was going on.

Now, I’ll admit that while John was telling me this story, I was a little intrigued.  These things are sometimes like mysteries and it can be fun and rewarding to puzzle them out and find a solution.  However, I have to be honest:  I wasn’t sure, from what I was hearing, what the problem could possibly be.

I assumed maybe a paint color problem.  Maybe the roller she used had paint in it from another job.  Maybe the previous color on the wall was showing through, making the color in room 2 look different.

I had a number of different theories, but then John said “you know what the problem was?  You know what went wrong?”

I waited.  He waited.  (Turns out he wanted me to say “no, I don’t know what the problem was” before he’d continue.)  So I admitted ignorance (which made him happy), and he explained, in a single, compound word:  “lightbulbs!”

He went on to explain that the customer had an incandescent lightbulb in room 1–the room she loved.  In room 2, the lightbulb was one of those fluorescent, energy-saving bulbs.  The tone of the light coming from each of those bulbs was enough to visually alter the color on her walls.

The fix?  Simple:  change bulbs.

The customer tried the fix and was back in the store a day or so later to report that everything turned out well.  Instead of repainting a room–going through all that work and spending that extra money–all she had to do was change a lightbulb.

So the point of the story, if it’s not obvious, is this:  lighting matters!  Check out your colors in your room, in your lighting before you buy and before you paint.  And likewise, before you give up on a color that you thought you liked but find that you really hate when you see it on your wall, give some thought to the lighting in your room.  Could a simple changing of a lightbulb make all the difference?  It’s at least worth a try!

3 Ways to Compromise With Your Kids about Paint Colors

donuts-690281_1280Once upon a time, probably about 6 years ago or so, my wife and I walked with our kids to the Zeeland Bakery.  Caleb (who was 5 at the time) waited outside with me while my wife and the other kids sauntered into the shop and ordered various donuts and cookies and different types of bread.  (It’s always a huge undertaking whenever we go to the bakery).

Anyway, while Caleb and I were waiting outside, a lady walked by with a 1-year-old boy in a stroller.  I smiled at the lady and Caleb smiled at the lady and he even went so far as to say “Hello.”  I was proud that the little guy was so polite.  And it was this pride which eventually led to my downfall.

See, as the lady was walking away, but while she was still within earshot, I thought I’d demonstrate how polite and kind my little guy was.  So I said, loud enough for the lady to hear, “Wasn’t that a nice little boy?”

Oh, it was a question that he should have been able to hit out of the park.  It was an easy one.  A no-brainer.  All he had to say was “Yes Dad, that boy seemed very nice, indeed.”  Had he said that, the lady would have thought I was a super parent because I’d raised such a wonderfully polite little lad.  In fact, I figured there was always the off chance that she’d turn her stroller around, shake my hand and ask my advice as to how to raise her own child.

Yes, my mind was brimming with the possibilities and the glory when Caleb spoke up.  He raised his little voice to match my raised voice and suddenly, as is always the case when this kind of thing happens, the entire world quit moving.  Suddenly, there were no cars–no road noise.  The shop doors quit opening and closing.  The clocks that had been ticking ceased their workings for a few split seconds.  Even the birds and the wind and the airplanes and the fountains went silent.  A whisper at one end of Main Street would have been audible at the other.  And it was into this utter and complete silence that Caleb bellowed his answer, informing me, the lady, her poor, poor child and everybody else within earshot that, “No,” he didn’t think that kid was all that much.  “In fact,” he went on to say, “the kid was actually kind of ugly.  His ears were big and his nose was all turned up and his eyes were squinty.  Like a rat.”  As if this wasn’t bad enough, Caleb ended by informing me (and all of Zeeland) that he had only said “hello” to the kid because “he felt sorry for him.”

Well, I just stared at him in horror and disbelief as he continued to rattle off all sorts of uncomplimentary descriptions that reverberated off the buildings and up and down the silent streets.  Silent, that is, except for the wildly squeaking wheels of the lady’s stroller as she pushed her child rapidly away from that horrible father and his nasty little son….

I mention this little episode partly as penance but also because it’s the perfect example of how kids think and act.  If you ask for a child’s opinion, you’re going to get it.  They’ll typically tell you exactly what they think.  Problem is, while they’re usually honest, they don’t always exercise the best judgment.

In an earlier article (which you can read HERE), I suggested that it’s important to involve your kids in the process of decorating their rooms.  You should let them pick the colors, ask them what they like and what they hope to see in their rooms.  However, when you do that, you’re going to have to be ready for some crazy answers from time to time.  In fact, when you ask an 8-year-old what colors he’d like on his walls, don’t plan on hearing him say “Oh, a nice medium-beige with an earthy brown would do just lovely.”  No, get ready for black and orange (halloween colors).  Or bright blue and red and yellow (Superman colors).

So, with that said, if you do decide to let them help you decorate their own rooms (which I still believe to be a great idea), you better have a method in mind as to how to incorporate their ideas without completely abandoning the overall look of the room.  You both need to be happy with the outcome.  And that means compromise.  Here are 3 tips:

1. PICK AN ACCENT WALL

When your kids choose the brightest yellows and oranges, the flashiest greens and blues, a great compromise is to paint one of the walls–an accent wall–with one of those bright, flashy colors.  Have them settle on which color they like best and see if you can’t work that into a small wall–a wall with a window or a door.

Now, in most cases, when you paint an accent wall, you’d pick the focal point of the room to do this with.  In this case, however . . . well, not so much.  If you’re trying to minimize the effect of the color, then picking the focal point of the room is the last thing you want to do.  Just pick a small wall–a wall that’s not the first thing you see when you walk into the room–and see if you can’t put their color there.  They’ll be happy, feeling proud when they see their bright wall and you’ll be happy because the room doesn’t glow like the face of the sun.

2. PICK MUTED VERSIONS OF THEIR COLOR

Another great compromise that sometimes works in the paint store is to steer kids toward more muted versions of their colors.  If they love bright reds and yellows, maybe throw out some options like a rusty red or terracotta and a more muted yellow.  Sometimes they’ll see these new colors and be completely willing to compromise.  Again, with this type of scenario, both of you can potentially reach a mutually happy outcome.

3. ACCESSORIZE, ACCESSORIZE, ACCESSORIZE

Perhaps the best way of working wild, crazy colors into a decorating scheme is to bring those colors in with accessories.  If your kids want to see black and orange or some other funky combination of colors on their walls, but you can’t bring yourself to do it, then offer this:  coat the walls with a nice neutral color and then bring in accessories that fit your child’s desired color scheme.  Bring in lampshades with bright colors, find art prints with the colors, switchplates and any number of other accessories that will serve to fill the room with the chosen colors without overloading the walls and driving you crazy.

The bottom line is this:  when you bring your kids into the decorating picture, you’ve got to be ready to compromise.  Don’t let them decide everything when you hate what they’re coming up with.  Likewise, don’t decide everything yourself when they hate what you’re coming up with.  You both have to be happy with the outcome for this little project to work.  If you hate the room, you’re always going to feel irritated when you walk past it.  If they hate the room, don’t worry, they’ll find a way to let you know about it.

So work together, have fun, and compromise!