Virtual Color Consulting - Before and After

This is just a sneak peek at a project I have been working on virtually in Alexandria, VA. My client sent me these two photos and I thought they were so much fun, I just had to share them with you!

Lots of color in this Before shot. Not terrible, but also not for everyone. And, I would never have carried that living room color into the hallway and upstairs landing. Color signals where we are in a space and this "bleed" just sends the wrong signal, in my opinion.

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And here is the after! Notice the gorgeous wainscoting and the restful colors I selected for this classic, elegant home. I can't wait to see everything once the boxes have been unpacked and the furniture placed!

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If you're looking for Virtual Color Consulting, you can read more here.
Then drop me an email. I'd love to hear more about your project!

 

Some Before & After Fun - The Exterior Colors Edition

 
 

We're having a major blizzard here in New England. My color consulting appointments for the day have been cancelled, my dog is curled up at my feet under my desk, there is soup on the stove and I thought it would be a fun reminder of exterior painting season (warmer weather!) to take a look at some of my favorite exterior transformations from the past couple years.

The home above belongs to a single dad with two young kids. His goal was to bring some cheer to their home, both inside and out. I was inspired by how bold he was willing to be...here with a color that feels very much like Pantone's Color of the Year, Greenery. I think it is a terrific color scheme for this Massachusetts Colonial!  Here's where we started...

 
 
 
 

I love the way the new color sets off the roof color so well. And the newer, more vibrant red just says Welcome Home. Perfect for a such a sweet family!  


Our next home is a bungalow in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Northampton, MA. Not sure what the thought behind this color scheme was, but this beauty really needed pulling together. When different colors are used to create variety, often what happens is the house becomes visually disjointed. My goal is always to bring the house into a cohesive whole. One of my Decorating Mantras is:

"Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should" 

 
 

I think it's safe to say that's true for the teal trim. It sure is fun, bit a bit too "creative" for my clients. They were struggling with grays and finding that most of their picks made the house look and feel like a battleship. When they tried to correct it, they veered too far toward brown, which wasn't floating their boat either.  The painter was ready to start, the pressure was on and their builder suggested they give me a call.   

Together, we chose some friendlier grays, with a little green dropped in for warmth and to help settle the house into its surroundings. We used a slightly darker color on top, since darker colors recede, in order to bring the upper and lower facades into balance.  

 
 
 

Normally, I would never specify such a bold color for garage doors, especially if they're visible from the street, but this garage, hidden around the back was the perfect candidate for the gorgeous red used on the front door!

 

Next up is this lovely country estate in Western Massachusetts with a natural wood shake roof. When I think about color and design, I want to establish a hierarchy for what matters most, and in this case, it was the roof. My main goal was to really make it look terrific and the soft beige, while not offensive, was doing it no favors.

 
 

My client sent me this inspiration photo, thinking her house would look much better with a darker color

 
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I think she was on the right track, but I had something a little bolder in mind!

In the inspiration photo, the barn-style garage was separate and set way back, so using red made sense.  My concern for this project was that a red garage would overpower the main house and leave the covered porch area feeling orphaned. Even though it's a cute idea for some houses, I knew it just wouldn't work here.  Luckily, my client trusted me on that....and on a bolder color! 

With a little bit of prodding, a few rounds of testing and some encouraging phone conversations, she let go of the mid-tone taupe she was after and embraced this deep green-gray.  Look at how great the roof looks now! The darker field color (that's color-pro-speak for the main color) brightens the roof and enhances the natural texture and variations. We chose a creamy trim color to keep the warm and welcoming feeling. See how we stuck to that idea of creating a cohesive whole? My client said "stunning" and I'd have to agree!

 
 

Notice how this deep red on the doors, which I chose from the darkest tones in the brick, enhances the brick rather than fighting it. That's what it's all about...making the natural materials look their absolute best, while making sure we honor the architecture.

 

 

P.S. I'd never seen this house in person before I went to take the after photos. My client was in a huge rush, painter at the ready, and my schedule for on-site consults was full. So we did this work virtually. I do virtual color consulting with clients all over the country.
It can be done!  

 

 

 

And, if you missed my blog pot from last fall, about how we handled this roof....which is green and in great condition not to be replaced anytime soon, you can jump over to that post right here.

 

We made lots of changes--think shutters, foundation, color for the porch ceilings--you won't believe the difference! And, I hear the neighbors are just thrilled.

 

If you're thinking about painting your exterior this spring, I suggest you call around to contractors now. The season here in New England, and in much of the country, is limited and the best painters are already starting to book their summer work. And if you need help with color, please let me know. It's always a good idea to call me before the painter shows up. Another of my Decorating Mantras:  No one ever makes a mistake taking their time. 

 

Painting These Wood Cabinets Isn't Going To Solve The Problem

New clients have just purchased a fantastic mid-century executive ranch for their retirement home.  They are ready to kick back and live life in this spacious and well-designed home.  Big remodeling projects are definitely NOT on their wish list, so we have chosen new wall colors and will be doing some small updates to bring the house into alignment with the way they want to live.  

But, one thing they knew before I even got there, is that this kitchen needs help.

 
The 90's are calling...they want their backsplash back!

The 90's are calling...they want their backsplash back!

 

My clients had already spoken with a contractor about painting the cabinets white. I let them know how important prep is, and that it could be done so long as we chose the right white.  Anyone who has been paying attention knows that here are hundreds of whites to choose from and selecting the correct white is tricky.  We wandered the rest of the house, choosing color and discussing the look and feel they want.  And when we circled back to the kitchen to revisit the idea of painting the cabinets white, I made the following observation:

What's wrong with this kitchen is not the cabinets but the tile.

The home was built around 1960 and I believe the cabinets are original.  They are solid as a rock, even after half a century!  Where things went wrong was in the mid-90's when the previous owners put on an addition and decided to spruce up the kitchen.  They mistakenly selected tile that was popular at the time and really had nothing to do with the style of the kitchen or the architecture of the house.  (Add to that, the serious mis-matching of the colors...a bunch of orange-y browns that just don't play well together.  UGH!)

I had to be honest with my clients (because that's how I roll!) so I told them that the problem was NOT going to be solved by painting the cabinets.  Those mid-century cabinets want to be wood.  Painting them white, even if they did get the job done properly, would never suit the style of the house.  And we'd still have that 90's tile to contend with. 

My advice was to pull that backsplash pronto, leave the wood as-is and do something really gorgeous and a bit whimsical (colorful!) to balance the orange-y wood and distract from not-terrific flooring.   Because my client's favorite color is a rich blue, and because blue and orange make a smashing complementary color scheme, we pulled Benjamin Moore's Buckland Blue as an inspiration.  Here's a mock-up...

 
Now we're having some fun!   (Disclaimer:  I am a Color Expert, not a Photoshop Expert!!)

Now we're having some fun!   (Disclaimer:  I am a Color Expert, not a Photoshop Expert!!)

 

This week, I spent some time in the tile store, looking at some spectacular blue tile for my client.  Here is what I found:

 
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The goal is to use color intelligently -- to honor the style and era of the house, to use color to draw the eye such that the floor will be less of an issue, and to have some fun, of course, by using one of these really gorgeous materials.

Sorry, but that tumbled stone just doesn't say "Gorgeous" to me!

Stay tuned....I'll let you know what my client decides, whether to paint the cabinets white and live with that backsplash, or go for something way more appropriate.  You know which plan has got my vote!  How about you....paint or tile?

A Colorful roundup for holiday giving

As the holidays and gift-giving deadlines quickly approach, my eye is of course drawn to the most colorful delights around.  Just for fun, here is my short list of goodies for all of your favorite people, including you!
 

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From Hermès, one of my favorite perfume houses, this colorful collection is ideal for travel, for layering, for experimenting.  And, that signature orange box is heaven!  You can find it at Nordstrom, along with a smaller 5-piece set.

 
 

Because I know you don't want to ever show up empty-handed, here's a delightful set of colorful matches, just right to go with the candle of your choice, from Portmanteau Papers.  Ultra-affordable and highly unusual...two of my favorite qualities in gifts!  

The Museum of Modern Art Jumping Point Calendar becomes a rainbow-hued work of art with every passing day.  It's good for any aged recipient, at a terrific price of less than $20.

 
 

For the budding journal-keeper or the already super-organized, Paper Source has this lovely set of color-coded journals, ready to record by the date or by the topic.  They also offer a gorgeous selection of all kinds of lovely things that make fantastic stocking stuffers.  I love their papers and notepads especially and their gift wrap department is to die for!    

And for those who will be lighting Hanukkah candles, a gift of unusual hand-dipped tapers will always be welcome.  They can be found them at The Jewish Museum of New York among other places. 

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For the young, or young at heart, a rainbow of colorful eyeshadows might be just the thing!  These are from Urban Decay and can be found at Sephora, currently on sale for $39.

I love nothing more than to receive a practical gift and dish towels certainly fill the bill!  These colorful beauties, from Anthropologie would brighten anyone's kitchen through the dark days of winter. 

For the chocolate lovers (yes, that means you!) this little library from Vosges is sure to please.  Make sure you buy more than just one....because after all this shopping, you certainly deserve a gift too! 

As always, I hope you'll use these ideas to inspire but always shop locally first.   Happy Holidays!   xo - Amy 

Hate Your Tile? Make Paint Your Bully!

My client, having just purchased her "dream home" was feeling stuck choosing a color to paint her tile backsplash.  Yes, you read that correctly!  It is done, it can be done....painting ceramic tile.  For some rooms, it can be a reasonable stop-gap until the budget allows for replacement. 

And yet, do I think this is a good idea?  Not really.  Because the places where we most want a change of color are hard-working places--bathrooms and kitchens--and paint will just start to chip and peel almost immediately given the daily wear and tear.  So, unless you really love Shabby Chic, which my client does not, I lovingly ask you to please step away from the paint for tile idea.

So, here's what we were dealing with....tile (that really looks more like bathroom tile) was left in place, cabinets--very nice cabinets that my client really loves--installed right on top of it, by the previous owner.  (Seriously people??)

You can clearly see that the color statement being made here is YELLOW.

So, what to do?  Of course, I felt I had to offer a little Tough (Paint) Love and strongly suggest that we not choose a color for the tile, but rather select a stronger color for the walls as a way to suppress the tile color.  

In other words...Make Paint Your Bully!  

I also wanted to really bring out the cabinets and nothing does more for wood than warm greens in my experience.

Suddenly, with some Benjamin Moore Burgess Green CW-485 on the walls, that yellow takes a giant step backward and starts to read a bit more like a neutral ivory.  The black banding, which initially felt harsh against the white, feels more connected to the black granite counters.  

 
 

Notice how the color statement is now "Green" and even the leaded glass upper seems more prominent surrounded by flattering color!  

 
 

The exciting news is that my client does plan to have a contractor come in and cover the tile with new tile (since blasting it out would basically destroy the kitchen).  He'll also add wainscoting to the rest of the room, as well as the breakfast room next door.  But she loves that Burgess Green so much, it will be staying on after the remodeling is complete!  We'll be choosing a warmer white for the tile and wainscoting paint to flatter the warm tones in the cabinets and counters.   

What to do with a green roof?

My clients, a young family referred by another much-loved client, had lived here for a couple years.  The roof was relatively new and would not be changed any time soon.  Oh, how I wish the previous owners had made a better selection for roofing material!  But, you see the color they chose for the body of the house, as well.  Clearly there should have been a Color Intervention.

But anyway....this is what we had to work with!

 
 

A green roof really ruled out most other "color colors" so we looked toward neutrals.  And I figured I'd turn up the fun with a little accent color in just the right places.  We also decided to get rid of the shutters since they were really just decorative add-ons, and sometimes less is more.   (My advice is usually to take stuff down--window treatments, shutters, extra details--and see if you miss them.  More often that not, clients prefer a cleaner result.)

So, here's the after shot, taken on this glorious October day!  We chose a stately gray, Gauntlet Gray 7019 from Sherwin-Williams, to be exact.  The trim is Sherwin-Williams Pearly White 7009, a warm gray with a lot of tone.  You really don't want to use a bright white for exterior trim as it almost always looks artificial and just too stark against most house colors.  Notice how I also specified a darker color for the foundation, to help the house feel grounded.  

(And, yes...scroll back up for a second and check out the yellow foundation on the before pic!  Someone had actually painted the pointing darker!  Eeek!!)

 
 

We accented the porches with a soft teal, to play nicely with the green roof and added some cooling greenish blue to the porch ceilings.  That second-story porch is one of my favorite things about this charming house!  I hope my clients have many happy and peaceful moments sitting out there on a breezy day!