Let Them Help: Decorating With Your Kids’ Input!

paint_handsEvery now and then I hit upon something that I know is a good idea. And, though this doesn’t happen very often, this is one of those times. There’s no way around it: decorating your kids’ rooms with their help is a great opportunity for you and for them. Oh, I know there are lots of little bugs in the idea and potential complications–but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a good thing to do.

Taking a room that was decorated with younger kids in mind and turning it into “hip, way cool pad” is a great way to let your kids know that YOU know that they’re growing up. Taking down the wallpaper borders of stuffed bears and turtles and replacing it with something more age-appropriate will make your kids feel important. And involving them in that process, seeking their input and listening to their suggestions will make them feel that they are on the path to growing up–they’re actually an active force in the creation of their new room.

Surprise Makeovers are Cool on TV, But Not So Much In Real Life

If you still need convincing that it’s a good idea to involve your kids in the process, then think about it this way: on TV, surprise makeovers are cool. They really are. But that’s because we don’t normally watch the recipient of the new room beyond their initial reaction. We see them when they first whip off a blindfold and stand blinking and squinting in the bright lights as they try to take in their new surroundings. Everybody’s happy and giggly and the show ends. We don’t see the couple standing there 12 hours later, now that the cameras and energetic TV personalities are gone, staring at the new walls and wondering what happened and how anybody ever thought that bright orange was a good look.

Your kids feel the same way about their room as you would about your home. Their room is their space–their world away from the world, especially as they get older. Just as you wouldn’t likely appreciate it if your husband or your neighbor just dropped by one afternoon and repainted your living room in colors of their choosing, neither will your kids necessarily be receptive to the changes you bring about one day while they’re off at school. Your vision for their room isn’t necessarily their vision for the room. You’ve got to make it your goal to discover a mutually acceptable vision.

Involve Them, But Remember Their Limitations

To that end, involve them in every aspect of the process. Take them to the store and let them look at colors. Let them flip through wallpaper books and mural books. Let them explore the world of Faux Painting. However, make sure that you keep the outings short and sweet–no marathon shopping trips that will frustrate and wear your kids out. Remember that their attention spans are not like yours–keeping the trips to a limited amount of time will make sure both of you enjoy the outings. And don’t forget to think bigger than just a trip to the paint store or the furniture store: try to tie your decorating trips in with a nice dinner out or something like that.

Taking the kids to the paint store and listening to their suggestions and then taking them out to dinner will be one of those special moments kids remember. If you treat their opinions as valid options and listen to their thoughts and take the time to discuss things with them over dinner, they will start to feel like an intricate part in the decision process. And trust me, I may have young kids and I may not have had much experience in the world of psychology, but I know this is a good thing. You don’t have to be a genius to see that by involving your kids in something so small as decorating their rooms, you’re basically telling them that their opinions matter and that you value their thoughts.

What If . . ?

Alright, now you’re probably thinking that I’m living in a world where everything is puppy dogs and lollipops. Sure it sounds good to involve the kids in the decorating process, but what’s going to happen when they pick out Sponge-Bob Yellow and Bright Red for their walls?  We’ll cover that in the next post.

Decorating Made Easy: Decorating with the 60-30-10 Rule

The 60-30-10 rule is a tested concept used by interior decorators everywhere.  It’s a simple proportion that spells out the ideal amounts of color to use in your decorating.

To keep it as simple as possible, 60% of your room should be composed of your dominant color, 30% should be composed of a secondary color and that final 10% should be reserved for accents.  Now, maybe that sounds a little confusing . . . so here are some examples:

This room is a perfect example of the 60-30-10 rule in practice. 60% = Lavendar (walls and blanket) 30% = White (bed and fireplace) 10% = brown/tan (chairs, dresser, floor)

This room is a perfect example of the 60-30-10 rule in practice.
60% = Lavendar (walls and blanket)
30% = White (bed and fireplace)
10% = brown/tan (chairs, dresser, floor)

 

 

 

Another great example: 60% = Tan (walls, floors) 30% Brown (couch, tables) 10% Blue and White (pillows, vases, etc.)

Another great example:
60% = Tan (walls, floors) 30% Brown (couch, tables)
10% Blue and White (pillows, vases, etc.)

 

 

 

A classic example showing that you don't need a soft, muted color on your walls to make this work. 60% = Red (walls, accessories) 30% = Cream (furniture, rug) 10% = Tan (floor, accessories)

A classic example showing that you don’t need a soft, muted color on your walls to make this work.
60% = Red (walls, accessories)
30% = Cream (furniture, rug)
10% = Tan (floor, accessories)

 

Another great example that clearly demonstrates that the main color doesn't need to be calm, simple, neutral or BORING! 60% = Green (walls, accessories) 30% = White (furniture, art prints) 10% = Dark Brown (floors, chair legs)

Another great example that clearly demonstrates that the main color doesn’t need to be calm, simple, neutral or BORING!
60% = Green (walls, accessories)
30% = White (furniture, art prints)
10% = Dark Brown (floors, chair legs)

 An example that proves you can use the 60-30-10 rule to work incredibly vibrant and bold colors smoothly into your decorating. 60% = Blue (walls, light) 30% = Pink (bedspread, chair, painted leaves) 10% = White (trim, doors)

An example that proves you can use the 60-30-10 rule to work incredibly vibrant and bold colors smoothly into your decorating.
60% = Blue (walls, light)
30% = Pink (bedspread, chair, painted leaves)
10% = White (trim, doors)

The color options are endless and it’s not difficult to see that using this rule helps you keep your color scheme under control and helps you produce an end result that’s very focused, very clean and very inviting!

Bad Uniforms and What They Teach Us About Paint

white_sox_shortsThe year was 1976.  The team was the Chicago White Sox.  The Sport?  Major League Baseball.  Yes.  Major League Baseball.

Maybe some of you remember this, maybe this is new to many of you, but for 3 games in 1976, the White Sox sent their players out on the field wearing…yes, shorts.  And not cool, baggy shorts. No.  Tight, clingy shorts.  With their socks pulled up all the way to their knees.

This alone would have been bad–a fashion faux-pas of epic proportions–but the designers of this sleek little number weren’t done.  They added to the shorts what would have been a boring white shirt were it not for the GI-NORMOUS 1970’s black collar.

Together, the whole outfit was so horrible, I’m pretty sure opposing teams refused to even take the field against the White Sox.  White Sox players themselves likely spent hours in counseling and therapy sessions after being ridiculed and laughed into oblivion by former fans.

And yet, what’s interesting to me is that underneath that ridiculous outfit, these men were still Major League Baseball players.  They are/were more successful than me by a long shot and yet, looking at the pictures, it’s almost impossible to think of them that way.

It’s a perfect example of that old saying about how the clothes make the man (or, of course, woman).  When we say that, we know that clothes don’t CHANGE who we are, but they certainly affect how we are perceived.

For example, think of the manliest man playing the game today–I’m not going to whitesox1976aname names, you just get somebody in your mind.  Picture that player and then dress him–in your mind–in this bozo outfit from the 1970s.  Give him shorts and white socks with black stripes pulled up to his ankles.  Put that little shirt on him with the big fluffy disco collar.  I guarantee if you do that, you’ll be unable to take him seriously.  The goofy get-up doesn’t change who he is, but it certainly changes who we think him to be.

Now let’s shift gears and talk about paint.

Your home–your living room, your kitchen, the exterior of your home itself–can be in great shape.  It can be solid, well-built, brand-new.  It can be composed of the highest quality materials and consist of the best workmanship known to mankind.  It can be all of those things, but if the paint colors are boring or were poorly chosen, all of the quality underneath remains hidden.

Look again at the pitcher in the top picture.  He may be a tremendous athlete (and even if he wasn’t, he’s still likely 20X more fit than most of us).  And yet, even though that may all be true, he looks so silly in his little shorts and his big collar and pulled-up socks that I look more manly sitting here typing this story about paint colors than he does throwing curveballs and 4-seam fastballs.

As I said earlier, clothes MAKE the man–they alter our perceptions–and the same is true with your home.  You can take the best, highest quality workmanship and hide all that quality beneath poor paint jobs and lousy color choices.

It’s a remarkable concept:  an athlete takes years and years of sweat and work and effort to hone him or herself to be the best he or she can be in their sport.  Just like those White Sox players.  And yet, all that work can be tossed out in a minute when you cover them over with a stupid-looking uniform.  You can spend hours and hours and tons of money making your home exactly the way you want it, but if you choose the wrong paint color–something that simple and that superficial–the rest of the work is cheapened.

So all that to say, choose wisely.  Color matters.  The right colors can make your home look like something out of a magazine and the wrong colors can make it look like kids built it.  Choose the right colors!

4 Tips to Help You Decorate With Color!

14b_kitchen_tomatotangoCSP1145_harborgrayAC25_smallerHave you tried bringing color into your home only to find that it didn’t work?  That the colors didn’t look good together?  That they were too bold or too overpowering?  And then, when that happened, did you simply go back to painting in soft whites and neutrals?

This happens to a lot of people we run into at RepcoLite–they branch out into the world of “color” only to find that the colors they chose didn’t look very good.  Typically, many of those folks then assume that “color’s not for them” or that “they’re just not cut out to decorate in color” and they return to the safety of neutral.

If that’s you, then hold on for a second:  color adds interest and visual appeal to our decorating.  It can take a boring room and turn it into something that turns heads and starts conversations.  The trick is to use the right colors in the right quantities.

And here are 4 quick ideas to help you do that:

CHECK OUT YOUR COLOR IN ALL LIGHTING SITUATIONS

Many folks come into the store, pick out some color samples, scrutinize them, and then order a gallon or two of paint.  Then they go home and paint their walls only to find that when night comes and the room darkens the color’s way too dark on their walls.  Avoid this mistake by taking your color chips home and examining them in YOUR lighting and in all lighting situations.  Look at the colors at night in the rooms in which they’ll be well before you start rolling them out!

CHOOSE YOUR PAINT LAST

In the decorating process, many folks start with the paint.  They’ll come to the paint store and try to establish their paint colors before they step into the furniture stores or the carpet stores.  This is a mistake.  Folks will come in, pick a bold, bright color for their walls, and then later discover they can’t find a couch or carpet that looks good with those colors.  They then, mistakenly, assume that bold colors are just not their thing.  The problem isn’t bold colors, it’s the timing of the color choice.  Remember:  Paint is the most adjustable aspect of any home decorating project and should therefore, be selected after everything else is chosen.  First find your couch, your carpet, your wall hangings, etc. and then have the paint made to pull colors from those items.  Doing it this way makes decorating with color easy.  Doing it backwards makes decorating with color seem impossible!

PLAN AHEAD

Another thing to think about applies especially to those folks who are working their way through their house.  They start with one room, get it finished and then move on to the next one.  If this is you, plan your steps and your decorating with an eye on your next move.  Don’t find a beautiful, bold color for your living room, make everything work together beautifully only to discover that you have no idea what color will go with it when you move to your hallway.  Plan your living room with your hallway in mind.  Make sure the colors will harmonize as you work your way through the house.

DON’T BE FOOLED BY COLOR CHIPS

This last tip is important!  When you look at a standard color chip, you’ll see a light color at the top and a darker version of that color at the bottom with five or six variations in between.  The typical response many of us have to this way of displaying color is to assume that the top color is an off white.  From there, we gauge the depth of the subsequent colors on the chip.  The mistake comes in our initial assumption:  often, the colors on the top of the chips are already significantly darker than off whites.  So, while the third color on the chip may look–by comparison to the other colors–to be a “medium-toned” color, we are often surprised to see how dark it actually is on our walls.  So all that to say, one of the best things you can do is take that color swatch you like and hold it up to some standard whites or off whites to give yourself a good perception of the true depth of the colors–that way you won’t be too surprised when you get them on your wall.

Sheep from Norway and Web-Based Color Tools

Sometimes, the most difficult part of the painting process is picking the right colors. After all, nobody wants to spend money and time on a project only to end up with colors they don’t like all over their walls. For that matter, nobody wants to spend time and money on a project only to end up with colors that they “like” on their walls. We want to go through the work of that painting process and end up with results we love.

And so, many would-be home re-decorators find themselves bogged down in the very first step of the painting process: color selection. Because really, it’s all about color. If you put the right combination of colors together, the project turns out great. Use the wrong colors and it’s not going to matter whether or not you used the highest quality paints, the best brushes and roller covers made from the wool of spotless sheep raised in the pristine, picturesque landscapes of Norway (or wherever). All the fancy tools and quality paints in the world can’t save you from a bad color combo.

Color’s critical to every paint project and finding your inspiration isn’t always easy. As a result, many people start a project expecting to make big changes in their home. By the end of the project, however, they find that they’ve fallen back into old standards they’ve become comfortable with. They know those color schemes worked in their home and they know they’re safe. But we also all know that “safe” isn’t always fun.

Finding new colors, new combinations, exciting themes seems tricky, but it doesn’t need to be. In fact, the internet is filled with great color tools that will help you visualize color combinations you may never have thought of before. These tools are designed for various purposes, but all of them can be used by the savvy home re-decorator to narrow down her colors, and, most importantly, to help her step outside of her standard color schemes.

Benjamin Moore’s Color Chooserpersonal_color_viewer

The first online tool I want to recommend to you is the Benjamin Moore Color Chooser. This is a standard tool designed specifically for selecting paint color combinations.

When you click the link, you’ll be taken to a page where you can create your own projects, store colors and do all kinds of other tasks. But the main thrust of the site is to allow you to pick from a variety of sample room photos and then fill in the walls, the trim, the ceilings with the Benjamin Moore Colors of your choice. You’ll be able to see how the colors interact with each other and you’ll get an idea about what certain color combos might look like in your home.

Spin the Color Wheel

spin_the_wheelAnother great tool is called Spin the Color Wheel. And while it sounds like a game show, you’re not going to win any prizes here (except maybe a cool color scheme for your bathroom).

Spin the Color Wheel is actually a tool that’s designed to help web-designers find perfect color schemes for, well, websites. And it’s actually kind of fun. (Even without the prizes. Or Pat Sajak. Or the crowd chanting “Spin. The. Wheel!”)

You just go to the site and click the “Spin the Color Wheel” button on the right. When you do so, you’ll be presented with 3 random color samples. If you don’t like any of them, you can “spin again”. If you like one or two of them, you can press a little “hold” button. This will lock this color down so it doesn’t change with subsequent spins of the wheel.

After going through it a couple times, I found 3 or 4 color schemes that I thought were pretty interesting (one of which is displayed in the picture above). Oh, they may need a little tweaking here and there, but still . . . I went from having no idea what colors to choose or what would look good together to having 3 or 4 places to start from.

The Color Wizard

color_wizardThe Color Wizard is another web-designer tool. But, just like the Color Wheel one we just talked about, the Color Wizard can help you narrow down paint colors and discover new themes.

This one works based on some RED, GREEN and BLUE sliders. You just drag the sliders from left to right and your color samples change. Sounds pretty basic, right? Well, there’s an interesting twist to this site that makes it worth checking out: using a selection panel on the left of the color sample window, you can select different types of color schemes. You can select Complimentary Colors and the options you receive when you drag the sliders will represent complimentary colors on a color wheel. Or, you could select Analagous Colors and you’ll be presented with samples that are strictly analagous. It’s a great way to explore color, and, like the other tools I mentioned above, it’s a great way to jump start your creative mind and help you discover color schemes you may never have considered before.

All in All…

All in all, tools like these are great ways for nervous or newbie decorators to discover color schemes and open their eyes to the wide world of color. However, I’d recommend a couple cautions.

First, remember that the colors you see on your screen (especially when using the Benjamin Moore color chooser or any other paint-related color tool) are not necessarily accurate representations of the color in real life. Your monitor may show colors with a greener tint than they really have, or maybe a redder tone. In real life, when you see the chips you thought looked so good on the computer, you might find that they don’t look good at all.

But don’t despair! Use the color selection tools on the internet for a basis for color selection. If you saw a great tan, blue and green combination, but don’t like the color chips when you see them in real life, then find other chips that come close to the colors as you saw them on your monitor.

A second caution I’d urge is this: the web-designer tools are not going to present you with nice and tidy paint chip references. Instead, you’re going to get color names like “#FF7700” or the ever popular “#D1BEAD”. These are web colors and web-designers and other geeks know what they mean. If you go into a paint store with those numbers, you’re going to get a lot of blank stares. So, use those colors as starting points. Use them to figure out what colors you like to see together and then, when you go to the paint store, do your best to recreate what you found. Good luck, have fun . . . and most importantly, get painting!