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Introduction to Paint Color

As a painting contractor, the most common question I hear from clients is: “What color should I choose?” This is a very good question indeed! After all, it is a decision that they will have to live with for a very long time, and a lot of people struggle with it.

It is generally understood that color combinations that appear pleasing are made up of colors considered to be in harmony, or agree with each other. Colors that do not agree with each other, or that clash, are not in harmony.

I always start with the main color – the color of the wall. What will your wall color be? Well, look around. What colors are other homes in your neighborhood painted? Do you like them? Look at the clothes inside your closet. Seriously, this may give you a clue as to your color preference because color associations are very personal.

Some colors will already be established for you by things such as the color of your roof, shrubbery and the color of buildings next door. Your color selection does not need to be wholly determined by those other colors but it should not clash with them either. The color of your furnishings can guide you in the selection of interior paint colors. Once again, your goal is to harmonize.

Once you have your main color, you can apply some easy rules and formulas to create a harmonious color scheme. One way to come up with a harmonious color is to use contrasting (lighter or darker) versions of your main color. Another good way to add a color to your scheme is through the use of a complementary color, found with the help of a color wheel.

The color wheel is a tool that can be used to help you think about color. It is basically a circle of colors represented in the color spectrum. The basic color wheel is laid out so that the primary colors (red, yellow and blue) are divided by secondary colors (orange, green and violet). Complementary colors are direct opposites and lie directly opposite each other on the color wheel. (You can pick up a color wheel or a Color Computer in any good art supply store.)

I read an article the other day that 78% of America lives with white walls. I have nothing against white, it does go well with just about anything and clashes with nothing. Yes, white is very safe but it’s also rather difficult to get “WOW!” about it.

In my 30+ years painting, I’ve painted a lot of white walls for clients, and I have some white in my own home. Your walls may be white, and may be this the way you love it! But, if those walls are white simply because you weren’t sure what other color to use, well perhaps now you can give it another look.

Yefim Skomorovsky
Painting Contractor in San Francisco Bay Area

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