SELECTING PAINT COLORS FOR A BEACH HOUSE CAN BE A MAGICAL JOURNEY!
I select paint colors all the time for projects in the office as well as numerous in-home paint consultations per month. And for years, I taught a class called ‘The Importance of Color’ which addressed selecting and using the right paint in residential interiors. I love color—beautiful color—and most of the time I enjoy making these paint selections but it is never a straight forward task.
There are many tasks that I do in the office—some fun, some not so fun; some easy, some much more difficult. However, none of these tasks is quite like selecting a paint palette—either for the interior or the exterior of a house. I don’t how other designers go about it, but selecting paint is one of the more strange things that I do [at least my version of it].
First of all, I have to be in the right mood and I have to feel emotionally balanced.That may seem odd but color is the language of emotion. Color bypasses the intellect and speaks directly to your emotional center. Only if you are in an emotionally neutral place will you be able to really see and rightfully assess the hues before you. It is also important that I know my client’s likes and dislikes, as well as I can; and be familiar with the house that I am selecting the colors for. And it is equally important that I be well acquainted with the paint lines of the major paint manufacturers and know which company has hues and finishes which will support my design direction.
Then, there is the mystical part! I find that ‘my process’ is to slip into a kind-of-trance [years of meditation helps with this] which allows me to be led to the color families and collections which will work best for each room and which will work together as a whole house palette. What does this process look like? Well I start by pulling out all the fan decks and the paint brochures and piling them on the desk before me in full natural light so that I can ‘read’ the color before me. Over the years, I have also discovered the manufacturers I want to use and which companies produce the best hues of a particular color. The manufacturers that I prefer to work with these days are Benjamin Moore, Pittsburgh and Ralph Lauren Paints.
Then I just open myself to my design muse, staying in the moment with the colors and set off on a magical journey; really not knowing where I will end up. Invariably, it will be someplace much different, more nuanced, or more deeply developed than my initial concept. While I am looking at the various colors and chips, I repeatedly test each color selection with my sense of the client and the spirit of the house—the quality of the rooms, the quality of light, and the relationship of rooms to one another and, of course, the architectural style and the finish materials which want to be enhanced in one way or another by the paint selection. Only when I look back at the desk and all the materials strewn across the room could I possibly retrace the circuitous journey that led to the final paint selection.
On a recent project, I was asked to select paint colors for the major rooms of an oceanfront property on the north coast of Washington state with a spectacular view of the Salish Sea and British Columbia. My client and I had talked over the phone about a design direction for these rooms but in a loose way. So it was an utter surprise and a delight to me that I found myself delving into a new collection of paint from Benjamin Moore called Williamsburg. This is an intriguing paint collection which is inspired by the historic structures of Colonial Williamsburg. These colors while an obvious choice in an historical context have been updated and developed to please our contemporary taste as well. ‘Trend meets tradition’ is the tag line that Benjamin Moore developed for this collection.
It was in the Willamsburg collection that I found the soft, dreamy sand color that is perfect for the walls of the vaulted living room. A tint of the wall color is perfect for the exposed rafters. And a warm, creamy off-white color for the ceiling is the perfect companion that sets these colors off while tying them all together.
This is a great collection that is worth checking out. And despite the fact that they were inspired by historic American structures in the old South, these colors are beautiful, classic and immensely suitable to the coast of the Pacific Northwest. They are very at home at the beach. Some of these colors are the colors of drift wood, beach grass and seashells on a warm, sun-drenched day! What could be more perfect on a looming, gray winter day?