Bedroom BluesBedroom Blues
I recently purchased a one-bedroom condo in the unaffordable northern Virginia area of Clifton. An unbelievable feat considering I am a teacher. Boy, do I need your help! The condo is 16 years old and everything is original. This is the first time that I have had a bedroom of my own. Growing up I always had leftovers from my brothers. My dilemma is what color to paint "my" bedroom. I am on a tight budget and find myself buying quart after quart of paint and I am no further with a decision. The room is 11x14 with a long reach-in closet and one large window. The room does get light. I have white cut-out linens for my bed and a queen mattress and box spring and that is it. I have tried some shades of blues and periwinkles, but they all have been too dark, intense, icy or even chalky.
I want my linens and artwork to be more of the focal point. The focal point does not need to be the painted walls. But, currently, the walls are cream and just too bland. If I could dream for a moment and have any kind of bedroom I would like it to be a little rustic like the Sundance Catalog, but with some feminine undertones. I like the blues and periwinkles — I just cannot seem to find one that is soft enough. I am truly open to suggestions!
—My First Bedroom in Virginia
Dear My First Bedroom in Virginia,
Congratulations on your new home and your very own bedroom. I understand why you want to get it right.
Although you don’t say which colors you did test, based on your preference for blues, I’ve noted a few colors here that you might consider if you do want blue for your walls. Look at these colors, all from Benjamin Moore: #687 and #688, which are soft blue-greens; other lovely light blues are: #716, ‘Fantasy Blue;" or #1640 or #1641. Also consider: #827,"Lake Placid" or #1632, "Glass Slipper," a more grayed blue. Sherwin Williams #6534 is a blue with warmer undertones. If you decide to go with a warmer color all together, take a look at Benjamin Moore #2153-60, "Rich Cream." It’s a soft yellow. Whatever color you select, do it in a flat finish. Many companies now produce a "washable" flat paint, which is what I would recommend for the more rustic look. If that is not available, use the finish nearest to flat, which is usually eggshell.
For your ceiling, I recommend the warm off-white of Benjanmin Moore 967, in a flat finish. Alternative to trim being the same color as the ceiling: use a color 2 shades deeper than the wall. Using Aqua Pearl finish for the trim color will give you a softer, more rustic look on the trim, than using semi gloss, which is shinier.
Since you mentioned Sundance, if you like their colors why not just try their paint sampler and get the paint from them? I noticed on their web site (sundancecatalog.com) they do sell paint. Have fun!
—Color consultant Barbara Jacobs, Integral Color and Design
Not Afraid of ColorNot Afraid of Color
Hello! My name is Dana and I am sending you this message from Tennessee. My question is about choosing a color for my walls of my bedroom. My bedroom has an Asian theme to it. My bedroom furniture is a dark walnut/cherry color. My comforter is a light tan with brown circles all over it.
I want to paint my walls and was thinking of a color called orange clay. It is almost the color of a terra cotta plant holder. Do you think that would be a good color? I am not afraid of color, I love it! And I definitely need something other than brown. Help please!
Dear Asian-Themed Bedroom:
Yes, that orangey-clay color should work well if you are going for the oh-so-popular informal Asian look that we see on the market today. The color seems to work well with your preponderance of browns (a color not on the color wheel, but rather the combination of all colors).
What you will finally end up with is an analogous color scheme. Analogous color schemes are quite restful in nature and easy on the eyes. Not a lot of excitement going on in terms of contrast between objects.
Here's a tip: Try to incorporate at least three colors in the space. You mention the light tan comforter with the dark walnut furniture. An excellent corollary to these two colors would be the rust or terra cotta clay you mention. So, I would say that is a good choice. You have a yellow, brown and clay as your three colors in the space.
What I might suggest though, is that you will need to add interest to the space also. It could fall into the too sleepy category at the rate you are going. In other words, there may not be enough visual interest using the color scheme you mentioned.
Add some sparkle to your Asian Sweet Dreams motif. I might suggest copper for light fixture bases, some jade accent pieces, a touch of gold or brass. These will highlight your colors used sparingly. You may also want to dip your toe in some medium-valued greens for bed throw pillows also. This addition will spur you to add other colors to your design in the form of soft goods such as the green pillow mentioned above. Toss some eggplant colored drink coasters on to the end table, or add a weathered pine trunk to the foot of the bed to improve the materials mix, and add minor colors to the space.
Another quick tip: Bamboo shades are all the rage these days. They come in a plethora of combinations and can be obtained on the cheap, or as moderate window coverings. I have used them to great effect when decorating dressed down Asian rooms. Many come with black bamboo stripes (with burnt red and brown mixed) in them. With perhaps a raw silk over-treatment panel. As the old interior design wives' tale says, adding black to a space helps to enhance the other colors in the room.
Don't worry too much about sun rot with the Thai-inspired raw silk, they should be protected adequately by the bamboo blinds, or you may want them as stationary panels to save money on fabric and avoid the sun rot issue all together. Raw silk can be obtained rather inexpensively too.
—Designer Mark McCauley, ASID
Mix & MatchMix & Match
My question is I have a very large living room and the top half of the walls are a beautiful light brown stained pine board and I can’t decided on what color to paint the bottom half of the walls. I have a navy blue couch and love seat that I have to try and match up! Any suggestions?
—Unmatched and Miserable
Dear Unmatched and Miserable,
I actually recommend not trying to actually "match" either the wall or the furniture. Rather, look for a complement that will allow the colors of the wall and furniture to find a common ground, a connection, so to speak. You could find that kind of color in the green or blue-green family. Think of it like this: The warm, light brown of the upper walls has a reddish or golden quality, probably both. The deep blue of the furniture is very cool, and a strong color. To create the connection and "ground" the furniture, so it does not appear to ‘jump out’ at you from the wall, you will want to use a color that is a little deeper than the walls, but not as dark as the furniture. So, in looking for a medium-depth color in the green/blue-green range, you can take a look at something like Benjamin Moore #703, "Catalina Blue." This combination of warm + cool in the room will create a very natural kind of palette and should be a lovely complement to the wood walls and the cool, deep color of the furniture. Bring in other colors with textural accessories like pillows, in colors like deep gold, rust, plum, if it suits your taste.
—Color consultant Barbara Jacobs, Integral Color and Design