Most color holds profound meaning. When I asked our 50 experts, 4th graders at PS 20, about the color for the walls of room 220 their collective response came straight from the gut, “What if we painted the walls red?” I said, They yelled, “NOOOOO!” “What if we painted the ceiling light blue?” “YESSSSS!” filled the room.
Red could be a great choice for a single wall but which red? And which wall? It would be too intense for a while room. Light blue and yellow are colors that have to be very carefully chosen. And they are good options for a whole room. But there are literally hundreds of paint choices: It’s overwhelming, isn't it? But chosen well, color can change your life.
We all have gallons of paint we purchased that just didn't work out: Many of us struggle with picking colors. Part of the problem is over intellectualizing the choice: We interfere with our instincts. We get anxious. Part of the anxiety can be mitigated by following a few sensible rules.
So here are some tips:
Orient yourself to the room: Sit in it and just be. Then allow for thought: What’s the mood you want to strike? What are the ‘givens’ – what do you have to work with? And finally, here's some color wisdom: If you want the room to be calm, go with a cool, light color. If you want intensity, go with a strong color. If it's a large room with a lot of exposed surfaces, be aware that your eyes may get very tired of a strong color (like red). If you are going to cover almost all of the wall space with pictures or furniture the color of the wall may act as an accent or a 'frame' for what you put on the walls and you may want to go stronger. Does this room get a lot of natural light or not? Natural light affects how color is perceived. If you are in this room day in and day out, in a situation that's stressful – what direction would you go in?
Don’t willy nilly grab paint chips. Stick with one paint manufacturer you respect. Narrow down to two options and get a small quantity of each.
Paint a large portion of a wall of each, two coats. Brush it on a 3' by 3' wall and several surfaces near a window. This will help you imagine an entire room in each color you're testing. You will be shocked how different your perception of color is when you spread it over a larger surface. We chose two light blue colors for room 220 that, looking at the chips, you might not even be able to tell apart. Yet when we painted two large areas it was very clear that Billowy Down was our color. The other color was too yellow and intense. Again, a subtlety but an important difference.
As soon as the kids of room 220 saw Billowy Down they knew, like Goldilocks, it was just right. It's the kids that count. After all, we’re creating a room that calms them, that they want to learn in. That’s our orientation.
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