January-February 2012 | Bethesda HOME

It's all about hue

Seeing red? Feeling blue? Tickled pink? There's more to color than meets the eye

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Proxmire was inspired by the pink roses on the kitchen window treatments when she selected the pink wallpaper, paint and accents for this Bethesda kitchen and adjoining sitting area.  Bethesda interior designer Kelley Proxmire likes to intensify the effect of a color by making rooms monochromatic, which can be soothing to the eye. “I like to use one color with white so that the color pops but isn’t jarring,” she says.

She paired a rich, chocolate brown with white for a “his-and-hers sitting room” in a Chevy Chase home that was selected as the 2010 D.C. Design House, a leading fundraising event for the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., that’s open to local designers.

“Brown has a sophisticated feel, but is also welcoming and practical,” Proxmire says. “For this room, I wanted to use a color that wasn’t too feminine or too masculine. I wanted to create a calm, cohesive space that both a husband and wife could use.”

Seeing such a strong color can be a bit shocking at first. “Often clients feel panicked once they see a new color on the walls, especially if they’d been living in a neutral environment,” Madyson says.

Her advice: Live with it for a week before making a decision. Once the furniture and accessories have been arranged, she says, homeowners usually are happy with the color choice. “Many say, ‘That’s just the change I needed,’ ” she says.

And for those who don’t warm up to their new colors, the fix is simple: Repaint.

Considering Color

Many of us have bought a gallon (or two) of paint only to find that the robin’s egg blue we thought we’d selected was really aqua once it was on the wall. To avoid that:

  • Look at color samples in the actual space. K.C. Cohn, a professional color consultant in the Bethesda area, says a room’s appearance changes as the sun rises and sets. Kitchen walls that look butter yellow at breakfast may appear golden at dinner.
  • Artificial lighting also affects paint colors, which can appear warmer or cooler depending on the use of incandescent, halogen or fluorescent bulbs.
  • Because it’s hard to visualize a full wall of color based on a 2-inch paint chip, many retailers sell sample-size jars of paint in 8 or 16 ounces that typically cover a 4-by-6-inch or 8-by-8-inch square. The downside is that these can be messy and require repainting to test different colors. And they can be expensive—costing $3 to $6 each.  
  • For a bigger splash, C2 Paint sells “The Ultimate Paint Chip” online, an 18-by-24-inch poster-size sample sheet in a single color for $8.99. This paint chip, the company says, won’t get lost in your wallet.

Gabriele McCormick is a frequent contributor to Bethesda Magazine. To comment on this story, email comments@bethesdamagazine.com.