Insider Solutions

Color Can Tell a Story

Q: My husband and I just purchased a new home. We quickly painted the downstairs; it has a casual look with yellow and burnt orange. The couches are covered in blue denim fabric. We haven't done anything upstairs, except for our baby's room. Should we tie the downstairs to the upstairs? Do we need to use the same color scheme? Upstairs we have a loft with a television and futon and four bedrooms (including the baby's room).

A: Remember, when selecting a color scheme for your home, you are the most important consideration. To answer your question completely, I would need more information, so let me offer some general information. A new home is a wonderful opportunity to create a portrait of your family. Think of your new home as a new beginning. What color scheme would you like to live with? Keep in mind you will see it every day and that you will make several expensive purchases around your choices.

So far you have decided on yellow and burnt orange for your downstairs and the denim sofa is a good complement to those colors. You have chosen a version of the primary colors red, yellow and blue, which you can use throughout your home, or you can introduce new colors that go with them.

However, if you like the way the downstairs looks, you can certainly repeat the same colors upstairs. The colors you have used are strong, and to soften the feel, you could introduce a sage green, which gives a lighter feel and brings in the feeling of nature.

The architecture of the house will dictate where colors can begin and end, particularly in transitioning from room to room. There are natural breaking points in every house, like the wall going up the stairs that connects the downstairs and the upstairs.

If you have used the burnt orange on that wall, you can use accent colors on the other walls in the loft. If it is important to change the colors upstairs, you can create an architectural stopping point with the molding at the bottom or top of the staircase.

As you transition into the bedrooms, you can use a totally different color. The color used downstairs may be taken up to the loft area and changed at the entrance of each bedroom. The loft is your bridge between the downstairs and the upstairs. Keep in mind that your eye sees the loft when you are downstairs looking up and when you are in the loft looking down.

Because your home has to be pleasing to both of you, begin by going together to a paint store and selecting color chips you like. Think about your personal space, and then the common areas you share. If the colors don't all go together, you can tweak them by selecting slightly different shades of the same color until they look good together.

Once you have decided what colors to use, decide what room upstairs gets which color. This is an opportunity for each person—who is the principal user of the room—to express a preference. Most people are affected by the colors they choose to live with, so make your choice personal. If it is a common area you're discussing, it can become a time for communication and creativity where you may learn more about each other in a new way.

The taste of two people joined together becomes distinct and extremely creative. See where the discussion leads you. Don't be afraid; make your own rules and create a signature look that expresses both of you. Remember: Rooms have no feelings, You do!

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