- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Laurie Baulig is not afraid to experiment with color.
While some people would be hesitant to paint the main walls of their home in vibrant red, Ms. Baulig, who lives in Arlington, took the risk and is pleased with the results.
For her entire life, the walls of the homes in which she lived were in neutral shades. After debating the idea for about a year, she hired interior designer Maxine Cohen, president of Maximizedecors in Northwest, to tackle the project of faux painting portions of the walls in her living room and dining room in red, which coordinates with her furniture. Faux painting is decorative painting using sponges to create a textured appearance on a surface. Ms. Beulig's walls have a leathery finish.
"I remember the day Maxine was going to get started," Ms. Baulig says. "I went to work and came home, and I saw this lipstick red color all over the walls, and I just about died, but with faux painting, there is a base color. The first color almost knocked me down the stairs, but there were
about three different glazes on top of it until it was finished. It looks fabulous. I'm very happy with it."
Although there are about 10 million possible colors that one could use when decorating a home, most people play it safe by using only neutral tones, such as beige. However, decorators say color shouldn't be feared and avoided but incorporated into one's interior with common sense.

Ms. Cohen of Maximizedecors says there is nothing more important than how color is used in a room. Some clients believe they will get tired of a certain color after a time and try to be conservative, but she says the most elegant homes rarely have white walls.
For instance, one client with a basement apartment requested white walls because there were no windows. He thought white would lighten the interior. Ms. Cohen says it instead would have made the room feel stark and cold. She suggested using a creamy tan so the room would have a little more warmth.
"Color is always a statement," Ms. Cohen says. "It takes a commitment to paint a wall a color. People need their hands held to make a leap like that."
Moderation is the key to the successful use of any color, says Carey Besch, senior sales and design associate at Foster Remodeling Solutions in Lorton. She usually advises customers away from fads to combinations that will stand the test of time, especially when they are investing a lot of money in the project.
She says she sees a lot of green kitchen cabinets in magazines but doesn't think they are as practical as ones made from natural cherry wood. Also, sile stone, a new option for countertops that is a manufactured quartz product, comes in bright red and royal blue. Although this might look wonderful with the right application, she warns clients to think about staring at such bold colors for 10 years.
"That may be great now, but in a few years, it may not be stylish anymore," she says. "You can always change paint colors on the walls, and you can change accessories, but if you are spending $10,000 on a granite countertop, you don't want to choose something outrageous because you won't be changing it next year."

Mark McCauley, vice president of merchandising and design at McCauley Design in Barrington, Ill., says there are three basic color schemes one can always consider for a room complementary, analogous and monochromatic. He is the author of "Color Your Home Beautiful" and "Color Therapy at Home."
The use of two complementary colors, such as red and green, blue and orange, or yellow and violet, tends to create a more formal feeling and might be used in a dining room or library. Colors are categorized through the color wheel, which describes the relationships among hues. It is laid out so that any two primary colors (red, yellow, blue) are separated by the secondary colors they can create when mixed (orange, violet and green). Complementary colors are opposite one another on the color wheel.
When incorporating an analogous color scheme into a room, one chooses colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. For example, orange and yellow are analogous colors. With those two colors, one can create even more analogous colors, such as yellow-orange, orange-yellow and others in between. All of these will have the common primary color of yellow. This scheme establishes a more informal feeling than complementary colors and probably would be used in family rooms or living rooms.
Although monochromatic color schemes, which use tints and shades of only one color, are an option, Mr. McCauley believes they are dull, and he advises against them.
"It induces a coma," he says. "It's too boring."
The biggest mistake people make when using color in interior design is not the color schemes they choose but the values of the color they distribute throughout the room, Mr. McCauley says. The relative lightness or darkness of a color will make all the difference. He says it's much easier to live with little contrast rather than high contrast. Even though one may decide to use violet, one doesn't need to use the boldest hue on the market.
Further, when decorating a room, one is actually trying to replicate the outside world. Therefore, Mr. McCauley suggests placing darker values on the floor, medium values on the walls and lighter values on the ceiling, which is similar to the design of the Earth.
To create a flow of color from room to room in a house, Mr. McCauley suggests following the 60-30-10 rule. He says the wall spaces, the largest areas in the room, are 60 percent of the color in the room. The window treatments, rugs or upholstery would be 30 percent, while accessories are 10 percent. For instance, if in the dining room one uses 60 percent red, 30 percent green and 10 percent blue, in the living room one could use 60 percent green, 30 percent blue and 10 percent of a new color, such as yellow. This way, one can pull colors from one room to another in the house.
"Anyone can use the 60-30-10 rule," he says. "It's like the way a man dresses in a suit, shirt and tie. If you decorate a room this way, it works every time."

Interior designer Ann Platz, owner of Ann Platz and Co., in Atlanta, Ga., says learning how to use color takes time. She says the subject usually is a mystery to most people. Although they love color, they might not know exactly how to use it. She says people need to train their eyes to see details.
For instance, green is considered the most urban color one could choose, which is why restaurants such as Applebee's incorporate it into their exterior to communicate the concept of a good value. The hue can be used anywhere in the home, Mrs. Platz says.
Yellow, which is used in the McDonald's trademark, is the quickest and most exciting color. Its linkage with the company has led people to associate it with "fast food." Mrs. Platz suggests using this color in the public areas of the home, such as the living room, dining room and entrance hall. Yellow should not be placed in a room that is meant for resting, such as a bedroom or nursery, she says.
However, blue, which is often used in hospitals, is a calming color and works well in bedrooms. Red often causes people to lose all track of time, which is why high-end restaurants and casinos feature that color. Red tones are perfect for dining rooms and libraries.
Orange and violet are considered sophisticated colors. In ancient times, purple and violet dyes were rare and expensive. Purple came to be associated with wealth, royalty, power and dignity. Orange, which can appear as peach and brick, would be pleasing in a family room, but an extremely vivid shade of orange can be tiring when used over a large surface.
"Color is going to be something that is a continuing education for all your life," Mrs. Platz says. "If you watch people play with color combinations, it's so much a part of self-discovery. It's a lifetime pursuit."


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