The other day, while consulting for a client, we picked the finishes for a kitchen redo and saved a marriage all at the same time! Seriously, picking selections can be stressful. All those choices, all that well meaning advice from friends and family…it can be mind boggling. Seeking the help of a designer, who’s probably done this thousands of times, is a smart idea. Because if choices are made just by picking what you like, then I can assure you, it’s going to be one big hot mess and not the beautiful space you’re dreaming of.
Sometimes you can’t have everything that you like best. This is why so many people end up with a room that doesn’t work. They go to the lighting store and pick a light they love because it’s so beautiful. Then to the tile shop where they see a gorgeous tile that sparkles and looks so pretty. The associate says it’s all the rage and just yesterday it was installed in a $3 million dollar home. Then it’s off to do flooring and counters and wall colours, which by the way, is going to be BM Revere Pewter because it looked so nice in the show home. Whew…you get the idea.
There are a few rules that need to be followed to get a space that harmonizes. A designer knows how to do this. And if a couple is having trouble agreeing, it helps to have a neutral party to present the options. If these rules are followed, the options become clear right away.
Not everything in a room can be a standout piece shouting, ‘look at me, look at me’. Some things have to be the worker bees. If you fall in love with a hand painted ceramic tile for a kitchen backsplash, then the counter, sink, and cabinets must all support the tile choice, not compete with it.
If it’s a showy light fixture that makes your heart race, then every other choice should bow to it. All decisions have to relate back to the showstopper. You have to think, ‘what can I put with this fixture to make sure it stays the star?’.
So to repeat, make sure there is only one star in each space. You can’t look at the choices in isolation. You have to look at the room as a completed whole. Remember:
And here’s one more thing to think about. Sometimes the star is already in the room. If you’re doing a partial reno, then you have to work with what’s there. And what’s there as the star, may not be what you like. If you have a loud countertop or a bossy floor, then you must work around that. We’ve had clients who hated their bossy granite countertop, but couldn’t afford to change it right away. With the right wall and cabinet paint colour, it came to life and actually looked good.
Which brings us to the other important rule when picking selections for a room. This is the rule that has to do with colour and why it’s hard to get it right.
Colours have both a mass tone and an undertone. The mass tone is the colour that is seen at first. Undertones can be a little more sneaky. They are often concealed if a colour is being viewed in isolation. But they don’t stay concealed for too long. If you’ve ever walked into a space and something felt off, it probably wasn’t so much the colours, as it was the undertones. See our post, Design Lesson Kitchen Edition for a visual explanation.
It takes lots of practice and a good eye to recognize the undertone of colour. And it’s not just paint you have to worry about. Counters, wallpaper, carpeting, draperies…it’s important to have everything work in harmony. Most colour mistakes occur not in picking colours, but in not correctly identifying undertones.
There’s a reason why designers to go school for years. There’s a lot to this business. So many rules to follow, and then of course, sometimes the rules are just crying out to be broken. If you’re the least little bit unsure about your selections, or choosing the finishes is putting your marriage in crisis, call in a professional. A good professional will guide you and help you, but the look and the feel will be yours.
Read more on colour here:
Karen Fron Design is a full-service Interior Design Firm located in Calgary, Alberta. We specialize in bespoke residential & commercial interiors, custom furniture & draperies, and whole home renovations.
“A well functioning and beautiful home makes life better.”