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Choosing Color for your Home

Part Three: Color Balance

10/01/2006 - "Realize that selecting color for our homes is not a lifetime commitment, but a statement of style that can evolve as we ourselves grow" says designer Bruce Knott.

Fear of commitment--- who would have recognized that it even affects home decorating? Nevertheless it's true. I see that fear manifested in the homogenous creams and whites that cloak the walls of most every home. To relieve the boredom of this nondescript canvas, we need to overcome our fear of deciding and choose color.

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Neutral tones like beige, gray, and off-white seem safe. They reduce tension and are meditative. However, when everything in a space is neutral, it troubles us. The human brain can't function well with a lack of stimulus. Color helps provide that stimulus. A neutral room becomes beautiful when just a few splashes of one vivid color punctuate the space. The small punches of color balance the large neutral plane.

One step beyond neutral is monochromatic. A monochromatic color scheme is one where everything in the room is one color. Interest is created by adding texture and pattern, and varying tints and shades of that one hue. Balance is achieved by evenly dispersing the tones and textures throughout the space.

More complex color schemes also need balance. A relational color scheme is one which chooses several colors that are next to one another on the color wheel. Green, yellow, and orange represent one possible relational combination. Here, balance is achieved by choosing one of the three to be dominant, and using the other two as accents. When distributing accent colors throughout a room, repeat them frequently. Repetition creates rhythm.

Complimentary color schemes are the most vibrant. Two contrasting or opposite colors are used. Contrasting colors intensify each other. They draw attention to their difference and can actually appear to vibrate. They are most peaceful when the intensity of the two colors is equal. However, if carefully balanced, differing intensities can also be harmonious. Brighter or darker colors have more visual weight and impact than softer and subtler hues. Choose the subtle color to cover the largest expanses in the room, and use the more vibrant hue in smaller amounts. The visual weight of the two will then be in balance.

Color balance is much simpler in practice than it sounds in theory. We have a natural inclination to arrange the elements within our dwellings in a balanced way. Taking the first step of choosing a color scheme will begin the process that will flow into a home filled with personality.

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