Tips for Matching Colors
When I explain to clients that you don’t HAVE to match colors, the often seem nervous. For those of you who like to layer many fabrics in a room and also want them to look matched, here are some tips: (click images for more info)
Matching a range is easier than matching a point.
Few materials are strictly one color. Identify the color range within each item and then compare. This illustration represents two materials. On top: the white and off white found in marble. On the bottom: an off white velvet. The velvet has a smaller range of color and is perceived more as a solid than a pattern, but the range is there. The closer the two ranges are to centering each other, the more matched they will be perceived to be. In this example, most people would accept this range as a match.
Varying threads, layered finishes, and textures create color range.
Shiny white wood trim seems brighter than satin white wood trim. Have you noticed it also seems darker in the shadows? Anything with a sheen will be perceived as having a broader range of color than a flat in the same material. All faux finishes have a range of some degree and are much easier to coordinate than flat paint. Natural materials such as stone and wood have variances in the color which makes them easy to use. Notice all components in the item you are considering. Silk fabric often has 2-5 colors of threads in the weave. The overall effect is solid, but folds of fabric produce at least three identifiable colors. Take a close look at looped carpet, chenille fabric, and other surfaces in which the texture changes. The light strikes each facet differently producing different results. Add color shift and textural shift, and you will have a very broad range to match.
Bracketing colors makes them appear to match.
Suppose you have a gorgeous rug with true red in the design but you don’t want true red in any of your furnishings. You can obviously skip the red, but look at how choosing a color on either side of red on the color wheel is a pleasing match. A wine and an orange red can feel more sophisticated especially with other non primary colors. This approach works with any color. We are very accustomed to seeing many greens together in nature, so green is especially easy to bracket.
Choose elements with a common undertone or overtone.
Have you ever seen a collection of fabric, paint, or wall covering which seems to have a common cloudiness, earthiness, sun kissed look? In paint, a common murky base may literally be waiting for pigments to be added. Identify the tinting factor in a color and make sure it is in companion colors. To the left three colors have a foggy tone. In the rug shown, all colors have a sunny gold overtone. Here are some pairs to help you see the concept. Raisin and olive (similar brown grey tone) Chocolate and Lime (clear and rich) Chestnut and Celery (golden).
Pinpoint Color to emphasize your favorite
Suppose a textile has a chocolate background and a range of blue greens with grey tones. When you like a particular hue or tone best, bring it out in other elements of the room. This way, the color is immediately identified and the harmonious similar colors will blend in quietly. When we wanted an easy match, we went for a range of color. Here we strike an exacting color to stand out. This technique works for any design element with color.
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Trends & Traditions / Design Nashville