Envision Color and Make it “Green”
Envision Color and Make it “Green”
By Mary Courtney
One of the better ideas that have resulted from our carefully looking at the impact we play on the environment is the development of fine quality paints that have little or no negative effects on our planet. Not very long ago most paint and finishes produced fumes and lasting aromas that would leave toxic irritants within the home or buildings where they were used. These then mixed with the toxic fumes from floor coverings, building materials and even some window coverings. We weren’t aware of this just a few years ago. Subsequent testing has found that these toxic materials often contributed to some illnesses and discomfort. Now researchers have worked to solve this problem.
Just about every paint company now carries products that have low, or no, Volatile Organic Compounds, or”VOC”. Benjamin Moore with their “Natura” and “Aura” lines, available here in Sonoma, is one of the leaders in this field. The quality of their paints is excellent, with great coverage, an unlimited number of colors and a wide selection of finishes. Taking responsibility for the health of our environment and for ourselves is a top priority with many manufacturers; and public awareness is now demanding this.
So, technicalities aside, the most important decision for most people is which colors to use. This can be a daunting task, especially for the exterior of our homes. Your home’s exterior is an area that is very visible and it is usually a large job, which means it will also be somewhat expensive. The colors selected should distinguish your home’s best features, diminish the imperfections, and be long lasting. This is the place to be careful about which colors to use, and in selecting who does the job.
When working with someone I will first present a selection of colors that I recommend, perhaps with a second or maybe even a third grouping. Usually, for each grouping, three colors that work well together will be chosen: One color for the body of the house, another for the trim, and the third for sashes, shutters and doors. Then, when the colors are selected by the client, I prepare large sample color boards that we can move around and which enable us to see how they will look both in the daytime and at night. Sometimes, when looking at the sample boards, we realize that a color just doesn’t “work” so it is very easy to make changes then rather than later.
If doing this yourself you can paint large samples of the colors you select right on the house, just remember to choose both sunny and dark areas as the color will change with the light. Each home has its own particular setting and natural light, depending on the angle of the sun during the day and the effect of shading. All of the major paint manufacturers provide examples of color groupings that work together and free brochures are available. If in doubt, choose one of their recommendations.
When looking at your home and trying to decide on the colors, first look at your neighbors’ homes. Which ones do you like better than others and why? If a color scheme is too “blah” the home looks flat and featureless, if too bold it can overwhelm the architecture and neighborhood.
What is the style of your home? It may be traditional, historical, southwest/adobe, a cottage or bungalow, modern? The trick is to choose colors that are appropriate to the style and age of the home and in keeping within the general feeling of the neighborhood.
Sonoma has an abundance of beautiful older homes decorated in appropriate historical colors. That’s just one of the reasons why this is such a lovely town. Both Benjamin Moore and Dunn Edwards have excellent information available, particularly for the selection of authentic historical colors. Every historical period has its preferred palettes.
Another thing to remember is your roof. The roof is a large area and needs to be considered when making color selections. What color is it? I will often repeat that basic color, maybe a bit darker or lighter, but it would be included somewhere in the overall color scheme.
Take time to decide, look around you and develop a critical eye for what you see. How do you want your home to appear? This is an important decision and one that I would want you to be very pleased with. Carefully choosing your colors will enhance your investment and be something you will enjoy and be proud of, it is after all, “your” home.
You may contact me through my website if you have any questions, I would be more than happy to answer them for you.
Mary Courtney, Interior Design, www.marycourtneydesigns.com
Homes painted by Tara Custom Painting