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It’s All White

By Rachel Perls of Hue Consulting, decor8 guest writer

White is the color of whipped cream and popcorn, of fresh snow and fluffy clouds. It is the presence of all colors in light, but the absence of color in pigment. White has the vibrancy to rival the brightest hues, so should not be considered a neutral. Think of whitewashed buildings in Greece overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean.

via: Flickr

A common misconception is that white, in and of itself, will make a space bigger and brighter. Much of this depends on the lighting-just picture that small, dark hallway with white walls. It tends to look grey and dingy, doesn?t it? Without light streaming through a big window, it doesn?t work. I must admit, as a color consultant, trained in the psychological and physiological effects of color, I try to steer my clients away from using too much white. From a scientific perspective, studies have shown that it has little, if any, positive psychotherapeutic value. But, these articles on color are good exercises in learning how to embrace something that you might otherwise wrinkle your nose at. And so, without further ado, I bring you, white!

Signifying purity, simplicity, and the barest of essentials, white is a favorite of designers and architects for sparse modern spaces.

It?s also been embraced for a more country feeling; think Rachel Ashwell?s Shabby Chic. Thought of as clean and pristine, you have to be careful not to over-do using white because it runs the risk of appearing cold, lacking emotional warmth, even clinical.

To avoid this effect, off-whites such as ivory, cream, and whites tinted with colors can be layered in, adding texture and softness.

One Room, Three Ways via: Southern Living

One Room, Three Ways via: Southern Living

One Room, Three Ways via: Southern Living

It?s a great place to start with your big ?base? pieces: the couch, fireplace mantle and side chair. Then bring in other colors to really customize the space to your taste. Same basic elements, totally different feel to each.

White is great as an accent, to add contrast, and provide a unifying element through spaces. For instance, white trim, molding and floorboards. Or how about this great idea – artwork all framed in white-so sharp!

White kitchens are quite popular. As a super duper messy cook, my white cabinets and stove are my undoing; every tiny little splatter glares back at me. It sure does look lovely paired with some soft blues, doesn?t it?

via: Fired Earth

Another way to avoid white?s side effect of sterility is to bring in different textures and natural materials. I love the bathroom shown above with soft, natural stone and creamy colored tiles. Just think about all the different materials you can use, all with vastly different looks- stone, ceramic tile, painted wood?

These rooms use the same color scheme, but look at how a few key pieces can completely change its character.

White is a blank canvas, and really is there for you to project your personal tastes and styles upon. How do you feel about white? How do you use it in your home?

{Thank you Rachel for stopping in with your post about white. To read more of Rachel’s insights on color, visit her blog or previous articles written for decor8 right here. -holly}

Posted in Color Inspiration, Decorating Tips, guest bloggers on September 20, 2007

Sunday Inspiration

If you find yourself avoiding a particular color, try to experiment with that hue via photography. I recently set off to study purple and I am so glad I did because I learned something about myself. I don’t dislike purple. I dislike fully saturated purple, but I love the less intense shades, the muted violets, especially stunning when combined with pink, turquoise, and gray. Or with yellow and pale green. Here are a few photos that I took yesterday. When I uploaded them to my computer, I sat in my chair in awe. I’m a believer. I want to start working with purple more in my life. Can you see why?


I don’t know if this exercise will work for you, but whenever you find yourself disliking a color, take out your camera and challenge yourself to photograph only things in the color you dislike. Keep at it for a few weeks. It’s usually not the color but the level of intensity of that particular hue that turns you off. A highly saturated color is quite intense, but a less saturated color is more on the muted side, far less vivid, and has more gray in it. Maybe your photography exercise will help you see your least favorite hue in a whole new way. Ha! I guess you can say that I needed to adjust my lens in more ways than one because my camera helped me to see purple, I color I avoided for years, in a whole new light!

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me, And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves, And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter…But maybe I ought to practice a little now, So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised when suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple?” – Jenny Joseph, Author

(image by holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Color Inspiration on August 12, 2007

Color Conversation: Podcast

Here is a link to the podcast that I told you about yesterday, the topic is color, and I interview Rachel from Hue Consulting during the first half and the second half, I chat with Marisa from Creative Thursday. All three of us really hope you enjoy it!


Tip: The podcast is 55 minutes long, so you may want to download it and listen to it in two parts. If I host a podcast in the future, I know to keep it to around 20 minutes next time, but if you love color and would like to learn more about it from the perspective of a professional color consultant (Rachel) and a full-time painter (Marisa), I truly think it’s worth your time to listen in. I played it while organizing my office this morning and really enjoyed what both ladies had to say. :)

To read previous posts on decor8 by Rachel on color, click here. She covered all of the primary and secondary colors so well. I should have her back to talk to us about white and maybe black now. Hmm…

Here’s a link over to the podcast.

(The above photo is part of a creative exercise I started yesterday, which was inspired by my conversation with Rachel and Marisa. I decided to photograph a mini view of a room I imagine, laying only very few items on a white surface and photographing them, almost in color tray style. For this one, I imagined a nursery since our closest friends in Germany are having a baby. Maybe you would like to try this creative exercise as well, taking a picture of a few things that you imagine in a particular room? If you do, let me know and I’ll start a little flickr group or something where we can deposit them. Just for fun.)

(image from holly becker)

Posted in Color Inspiration on August 03, 2007

PANTONE Fashion Color Report ’07

Do you like to keep up with current color trends? Visit PANTONE to download their color reports for fall fashion ’07. It’s an exciting preview of the colors we’re likely to see hit stores in the months ahead. Let’s see how many of them spill over into interiors… Here’s what the big guns are predicting next season, ?Complex and exotic describe the intriguingly unusual and inviting color palette for fall ?07. The traditional neutral shades expected for autumn have been replaced this season with rich, nuanced hues, offering more opportunity for creativity with interesting and unexpected color combinations.”

“Spicy Chili Pepper and exotic Lemon Curry stimulate the taste buds, entice the senses and enliven any wardrobe.”

“Purple Wine, the ultimate expression of creativity, marries purple and wine, broadening the appeal of purple for fashion. The violet undertones of Dusk give gray a whole new dimension, making this fall?s neutral much more desirable.”

“Carafe, a deep, espresso brown, adds contrast to the palette, providing a rich alternative to the usual black or charcoal. Sumptuous Cashmere Rose is not only the perfect complement to any of fall?s colors, but also flatters any complexion.”

“Many seasons have paid homage to nature, and fall ?07 is no exception. Shale Green takes the shade in a murky, blue/gray direction, while foliage-inspired Green Moss goes to the yellow side.”

“Earthy Burnt Ochre is this autumn?s orange and sophisticated Stargazer continues the trend of turquoise, but with a deeper intensity.?

(images from pantone)

Posted in Color Inspiration on July 06, 2007

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