Interior Design for Living: Color flow smoothes room shifts


Q: I am moving short­ly into a brand new home. I had every room painted off-white for the moment because I didn't know what else to do. I don't like it when every room is a different color, but I don't want it to be boring either. Can you give me some direction?

A: You were smart in your situation to paint all the rooms off-white. It's easy to live with, and you'll have no problem with your existing furniture coor­dinating. This way you can take your time and not make a hasty color decision or wallpaper selec­tion that you will later regret.

The flow of color from room to room in a house is very important, and many people aren't aware of it. Often they will feel comfortable or uncomfortable in .a home. They know it works well or doesn't work at all but don't know why. Very often the use of color has a lot to do with it.

As you walk from room to room, your eye carries the color. If the colors used in -two adjoining rooms clash, it's unsettling and inappropriate. As you move easily from room to room, so should your color transition.

This is not to say that every room has to be the same. You wouldn't want the exact color scheme in every room. It would become very boring very quickly.

Neither can you treat each room as a separate entity. If one adjoins the other, you must consid­er that.

For instance, if your family room and kitchen open into each other, you wouldn't use yellow and orange in your kitchen and red in your family room.

How do you solve this problem of having a pleasant flow from room to room and yet not be bor­ing? One good approach is to select a color, any color that you like.

Green will now be the thread that weaves all the rooms in the main living areas together.

If your living room faces south, it probably gets a lot of sun. You may want to use a cool color scheme. Green is a cool color, as is blue. They would be very attrac­tive mixed with neutrals and per­haps an accent of mauve.

If your dining room is off the living room and faces the opposite side of the house, it would have a northerly exposure. This light is cool, and you may want to offset that with a warmer color scheme. Consider using a little green to carry your color but emphasize the mauve that is a warm color.

It is presumed that your kitch­en is adjacent to your dining room. Incorporate the green into your color scheme to continue the flow, but you can accent it with another color, perhaps a yellow.

As you can see, each room now has a different color scheme, but they all relate to one another be­cause you've carried the green throughout. You can incorporate this principle using any color you choose.

The bedrooms are generally off a hall. You have more flexibility here as long as they don't clash with the color scheme in the hall.

The color selections you make definitely influence the "feel" you 'will get from the room. The "feel" you will want will be determined by many things. Exposure to the light, how the room will be used, how often and when, are all factors to be considered when selecting your color schemes.

The effect of softer, muted shades is much different than the effect of bright, intense colors. In a master bedroom, you may choose soothing, more restful shades. In a playroom full of activity, you may want bright, intense colors.

Nothing will have an impact on the decoration of your home more than the colors and patterns you select. Rather than indiscriminate­ly painting each room a different color, it is certainly preferable to paint all the rooms off-white until you have had a chance to consider all these things and decide what will work best for you.

The selection of color schemes and their flow from room to room is not easy. It takes time and a lot of planning.