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March 12, 2010

Color IQ: Makeover Options for The Perfect Palette

I am so thrilled to see all the spectacular experiences and color ideas that many of you shared here, on facebook, and twitter in response to Meredith's Interesting Question on Color (Color IQ).  Altering colors in your home can change a room from status quo to extraordinary.  Adding the right combination of paint and color is one of the smartest and most cost effective design tricks out there when you're looking for a way to give your home a facelift.

So when one of our readers, Meredith, challenged us to come up with the perfect palette for her already "magazine ready" room, many of you pulled out those fan decks and shared your favorites!    As a result, here are some combinations that add just the right amount of color to upgrade her style and complete the look.  I used Benjamin Moore's Personal Color Viewer to upload Meredith's photos and try many, many color options!

Option One: Classic Sophisticate.  This palette is perfect if you're looking for colors that will stand the test of time.  Using two colors from our Historic Collection, I created a combination that is subtle and achieves just the look we were after.  Many votes came in for both colors from all of our readers!

Living Room Stonington Gray 

Stonington Gray HC-170 is a popular light gray with cool undertones and works well with Silver Satin OC-26 on the ceiling to keep the overall look cool and subtle.

Palladian Blue Color 

Palladian Blue, HC-144 is a classic color choice for the Dining Room

Classic Sophisticat blue gray color

Option Two: Naturally Inviting.  To play with tone and the natural elements in the space, I used a warm gray, Cape Hatteras Sand AC-34, to bring out the warmth of the wood and stone.  The blue is an aquatic inspired color called Serene Breeze 449.  It's invigorating and soothing at the same time.  These colors are accented by Cloud White OC-130 on both ceilings.

Living Room Cape Hatteras Sand

Cape Hatteras Sand AC-34 is a warm taupe gray that can bring out the warmth of the wood and stone.  It's paired with Cloud White OC-130, a balanced white for the ceiling that works with many colors

Serene Breeze Color 
The adjacent Dining Room is painted in Serene Breeze 449, a blue that has soft hints of green, too. 

Blue gray color natural inviting

Option Three: Fresh and Relaxing.  Gray Horse 2140-50 was another recommended color by our readers.  It's such a refreshing gray because of the green in it.  Green is a neutral these days and works beautifully with just about any color. It also works to bring out the opposing color, red/orange in the wood accents in both rooms.  Another suggested color, Constellation AF-540, is a as clear as a summer sky.  It offers a true blue option for this space.

Gray Horse 2140-50
Gray Horse 2140-50 is a green toned gray and will accent the stone hearth well while also highlighting the great amount of nature outside of the windows. Vanilla Milkshake OC-59 is a warm white on the ceiling.

 Constellation Color Affinity 

This blue option is more of a powder blue called Constellation AF-540

Gray Blue Colors Relaxing Fresh 

 And I didn't forget about trim.  To keep it simple, I found that Chantilly Lace OC-65 works beautifully for the trim with all three combinations.  I would suggest using the same color for trim throughout the open areas to help with flow and continuity. 

Chantilly Lace Color Trim

Just remember that colors are always so different on our computer screens than on our walls, so make sure to check out samples of each of these colors to really see the nuance and beauty of each one!

Meredith also mentioned that the previous owner was a smoker and left behind some lingering odors.  Carpet (and carpet pad) are one of the usual suspects when it comes to this problem in a house, but since we're working with hardwood floors, that can't be the source of the odor.  One of our readers, Donna Frasca, had a great suggestion to clean the walls first with "trisodium phosphate".  This is a great cleaning agent to get walls ready to prep.  Make sure to be cautious and follow safety guidelines if you decide to use this or any other cleaner on your walls, of course! 

To minimize the odor after cleaning, Benjamin Moore recommends priming and sealing the walls with a product called Fresh Start Alkyd Primer 024.  The advantage of this Alkyd Primer over others is that it's lower in VOC or volatile organic compounds than competitor's alkyd primers.  VOC's are the chemical and subsequent odor that's left in the air from many sources every day like painting, getting your nails done, or even spraying air freshener!  Some VOCs are more noticeable than others, of course.  But it's always a good idea to consider using low or zero VOC paints whenever possible.  My suggestion is to pair the Fresh Start Alkyd Primer 024 with a zero VOC paint that's available in limitless colors, like Natura.  This combination allows you to create the look you're after and still be able to breathe easy knowing that you have a high quality paint that will last and leave little impact on the environment.  (Note:  If you don't have these specific concerns that Meredith is dealing with, stick with Natura Interior Waterborne Paint Primer, otherwise known as Product 511.  Like Natura, it's also zero VOC!)

Meredith was kind enough to invite us into her home and so we've all raised our Color IQ's a bit.  I have a feeling we'd all like to know what Meredith will do next!  Meredith, I hope you'll share what you think and some "after" shots, too.

Try Benjamin Moore's Personal Color Viewer for your own rooms here and then find your local Benjamin Moore Retailer to complete you project!


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The best colors will highlight the most beautiful features of your home. Skillful use of color can even disguise design flaws, boosting the curb appeal and market value of your home. A well-chosen selection of contrasting trim and accent colors can draw attention to architectural details and disguise design flaws. A poor selection can make a house seem flat and featureless. Colors can create any ambiance in a house so you should choose carefully.

I love the way you put just the right colors together to make the changes subtle and classic. I am currently struggling to change interior colors in my home. When it was built five years ago, I was all about the yellows/golds...Chestertown buff, cornsilk, America's heartland, mannequin cream. Now I want to incorporate green into the mix but where to start? The kitchen cabinets must remain mannequin cream, is there a green for wall color that would work?


I know what you mean, Maria. Meredith is off to a great start! She emailed me and said she loves the suggestions. I think we're all on pins and needles to see what she does-- she's promised to keep us in the know, so I'll share it with everyone, too.

@Laurie, Good choice- Stonington Gray is gorgeous w/Palladian Blue- I'm so excited to hear you're using them, too! Where will the Palladian Blue be introduced? It even looks great as an accent in ceramics or dinnerware, actually.

I have never seen a space so perfectly neutral and right out of a magazine at the same time!! Beautiful! Makes it easy to change once she wants a change from Blue! I love Palladian Blue!

I'm a little biased because I have Stonington Gray in my dining room, but I love it together with the Palladian Blue. Those two look GREAT together-- comfortable and welcoming, I'm going with them! :)

Oooh, my favorite colors are Constellation and Palladian Blue - so soothing and beautiful!


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