October 10, 2006

Color Scheme Struggle

From Ask The Expert:

Q. I am struggling with my selection of a color scheme and time is running out. I have purchased used mahogany frame boards and I like classic design features. Would a selection of earth tones be in my best interest? I am considering a sand neutral for the majority of the public areas and white for the exam rooms. I am also considering a brick red to compliment the sand on one wall in the dispensing area.

What do you think? I am also concerned because my contractor wants me to go ahead and paint before selecting counter tops and floor coverings and I think I should do it the opposite due to the fact that you can always match paint up to your other selections.

Your book has helped me immensely! Thanks! Chris

A. The professional way to create a color scheme is to start with the carpet. Choosing a multi-hued carpet with an overall pattern or texture is the easiest path to a good color scheme because the carpet designer has already chosen colors that look great togther. Once you have a carpet that you love, you can pick out colors from the carpet to match or blend your plastic laminates (Formica) , paint, wallcoverings and other floor coverings like tile or vinyl.

Selecting paint first and then trying to find a carpet later is a recipe for disaster. Your idea of a sand neutral and brick red accents with mahogany cabinets can work very nicely, but I strongly recommend that you find a carpet that has the sand and brick colors in it first. Then you can match up the paint to the colors in the carpet and it will all look good together.

White is a color that can be very tricky to work with. There is a wide range of shades of white with subtle differences that the untrained eye may not pick up from looking at a paint chip. There are warm whites, cool whites, creamy whites, greyed whites and more. With your sand and brick color scheme you will have to be careful to stay on the warm side of the spectrum with your sand tone. I'd recommend going with a cream or ivory shade of white.

The wrong shade of white could make your office look harsh and cold. You would benefit from getting some professional assistance in putting together your color scheme. Don't let the contractor bully you into putting paint colors on the walls before you have selected your carpet and other elements (plastic laminates, tile, vinyl, wall covering, etc.)

Paint colors are the LAST thing to select because you must be sure you get the exact shade that will blend with all your other choices.

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