Ask anyone if they have a favorite color and most will be able to conjure up a definite preference. Blue gets the nod as a perennial favorite while some have a yen for red. Truth be told, we all have an emotional response to color because we know our likes and dislikes. Though we aren’t afraid to state our partiality toward certain colors, when it comes to decorating, learning to trust ourselves and harness our reactions can put our personal stamp on style.
Color experts know this inherently. That is why professional color associations like Pantone herald in a new palette each season forecasting important trends for the fashion and home furnishings industry. Bringing color into your home, and in particular the kitchen, is only a challenge when we close off the notion to experiment.
Boston-based color consultant Barbara Jacobs, IACC, urges those to think about the psychology of color. "Color’s impact is undeniable, causing comfort levels to rise and fall. Be a little brave. Experiment with color and analyze the mood &mdash always seek to expand your comfort zone." Just as you want your kitchen to have an inviting "Good Morning" countenance, you may find that cheery shade of sunflower too bold, preferring a glaze of soft ochre instead.
Choosing colors is a study in experimentation, taste and experience. Here are a few helpful questions to answer before spending buckets on paint and costly designers.
- What colors are naturally appealing to you?
- Do you want to make the space appear more open or enclosed?
- Which colors make you feel energized or relaxed?
- What colors inspire you?
- What direction does your kitchen face?
- How much natural light filters in throughout the day?
Once you’ve studied your kitchen, impose the 60-30-10 rule suggested by Interior Designer Mark McCauley, ASID. "The eye takes in the big picture first &mdash 60 percent coming from the overall or dominate color; walls painted a sage green, for example. Next, a creamy off-white as a secondary color accounts for 30 percent of the scheme, perhaps in the window treatment, floor or countertop. Finally, the remaining 10 percent will come from shots of zingy tomato red or citrusy orange in the accessories, rugs or other fabric."
A log-home kitchen is not that different from conventional kitchens save for one main difference &mdash more wood. And, with more wood, an infusion of color brings relief from a dark, closed-in feeling.
"With brown so enveloping, even the brightest kitchen can benefit from a splash of color. In many log homes, homeowners will insist on adding some drywall to break up the wood," says Tennessee Log homeowner Marsha Smith.
Because many log homes are constructed with an open plan permitting one room to open onto the next, color schemes generally flow into one another. Therefore, when there’s an overall color theme, it will generally be duplicated throughout the home.
One Ohio log homeowner who decorated with a classic Arts and Crafts style took cues from the original Roycroft palette that suggested selecting colors from nature. Together with the Mission style furnishings, the natural apple green color they chose for their kitchen walls blended harmoniously with the home’s other color shades of maize, tan and brown.
Paint is a very economical way to liven up a kitchen. If you want to boldly add a shot of color, consider painting only one wall &mdash say, an alcove with a daring complementary color &mdash instead of painting the entire room. A swipe of sunny yellow or soothing aquamarine will transport a kitchen into the 21st century.
Like paint, cabinets provide another way to add color. Whether you’re installing brand new or refinishing existing, the sky’s the limit on your taste and pocketbook.
Jill Saunders, kitchen designer with Kansas City-based Dorfman Plumbing Supply, sees the trend segueing from light tones to deeper, richer woods for cabinets. "Cherry, mahogany, dark oak &mdash akin to nearly a black walnut &mdash and alder wood, which is the poor man’s cherry, is a real shift from the formerly light wood or painted white kitchens of the past," she says.
Another idea is to add texture through color. You can create a distressed look from an antique rub. For example, a creamy undercoat can be coated with a chocolate over-glaze or a moss green tint with an aged finish, and the look is instantly customized.
The distressed look is available from cabinetmakers. Fieldstone Cabinets currently features Aegean Mist, a dusty blue color with a whitish wash resulting in an aged French feel.
Neff, Siematic, Downsview, Poggenpohl, and Snaidero, upscale purveyors of kitchen and bath cabinetry, are at the leading edge of design. Carefully handcrafted with exotic veneers such as ribbon mahogany, zebrawood and bamboo, these companies espouse excellence offering custom colors and superior surface design for the most discriminating buyer.
Randy Sisk, owner of Kitchens by Kleweno, notes that the bold new look is a European influence &mdash a monochromatic color scheme shown on horizontal or longer and winder cabinets. He recommends escaping "stainless fatigue" upon purchasing appliances: "La Coneufe and Aga Cookers offer exciting colorful options for your next range/oven," he says.
Cabinetry notwithstanding, expanses of color and texture can easily be introduced into the palette through countertops. Though interesting textures from paper (yes, paper) sorghum, pewter and reclaimed glass are the rage in Europe, natural surfaces are more familiar and here to stay. Colored granite, slate, quartz and marble are available in arresting veins of color from Volga Blue to Silver Sea Green and Tropical Violet.
Man has attempted to imitate Mother Nature engineering products such as Corian and Formica that astound consumers with ingenious fabrications. These are so realistic it’s often hard to realize that they are mimicking real stone with tints, shades and tones in innumerable colors and patterns. There is even a 5- to 8-inch-thick plastic laminate that is made with a honeycombed interior to give it extreme strength, light weight and a range of color options.
Stone is enduring but tile, pavers (think of the earthy glow Mexican Saltillo tiles impart), porcelain and glass aren’t far behind. If you want to add custom coloration, tile is one of the surest bets.
California-based Oceanside Tile specializes in unique glass tile surfaces from backsplashes to floors. From a bathroom flooded with sea foam glass tiles with names like "Haiku and Rain," to a bronze-and-gold flecked Tessera mosaic-lined bar and backsplash, unique tile adds just the right note of color. Bisazza and Ahnzu are two companies on the radar for interesting tile applications.
Something new coming along is a solid glass backsplash done with textured glass and then painted on the back to lend a unique illusion on the front.
Want more? Have an artist who specializes in hand-painted tile design a scene of your own. Golden hills in Tuscany, a field of French lavender, the Corsican blue sea … seek an artist who can interpret your vision and have them paint a story for you.
Let your kitchen be your intrepid palette showcasing everything from a vegetable dyed rug to a colorful collection of carnival glass, both of which offer enlightened shades of delicious color.
This article originally appeared in the January 2007 issue of Country’s Best Log Homes.