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April 25, 2011

Winning Colors for an Entrance Foyer

Lucianna Samu

If you own a television, chances are you've seen the Kohler faucet commercial, where a well-heeled client plunks a trendsetting faucet onto her architect’s desk and suggests: "Design a house around this."  It's not as far fetched an idea as you might think.  Let's suppose the thing being plunked onto a desk was a paint color.  What to do?  Designers might identify any color that an entire palette is planned around as a "bridge" color.  In general, color experts assign the word "core," to a single hue that links a palette together.  I chose to work my whole house color palette around the winning combination of black+white.  An ambitious choice for a bridge color?  Take a look!


"Bridge" is an accurate description for any color which will unify a palette.  A good bridge color will link differing hues together and act as a buffer between even seemingly incompatible color combinations.  Since maintaining a pleasing flow of color from room to room makes sense, it's equally sensible to link your color transitions together with any single repetitive hue.  Unlike a neutral color, an ambiguous color is generally much more complex.  When in doubt, remember that any color that's hard to describe or name is likely to be an ambiguous color.  Here are some of the hard to describe darlings of ambiguity:

Brazen 259, Antique Bronze 217, Inner Balance 1522, Crisp Khaki 234

If you have a beautiful room that falls a little flat, the addition an ambiguous bridge color will solidify the color scheme and add weight or ground the palette.  Beyond that, repeating an ambiguous color selection throughout a house is the easiest trick to I know to maintain the flow of color from room to room while harmonizing the color scheme overall.  Test this concept in any room where the color choice appears tentative, especially a room that feels a little boring or blah, and you'll see how powerful the repetition of a weighty color can be!   The theory is simple--a good bridge color adds interest and balance to a colorful palette and, more importantly, advances the entire palette overall.  How will I add black+white to six rooms without having my house appear a poor interpretation of a vintage Chanel suit?  Easy--a combination of re-interpreted, classic, black+white finishes and a few enhancements to my existing black+white influences.


As predicted, Bonne Nuit AF-635 visually lowers the foyer ceiling, which adds a comforting intimacy to the entry.  You'll recall I hoped to offer my guests a reason to pause in the entry and gather themselves together.  At night, the mirrored Moravian chandelier dances across the subtle semi-gloss sheen, and so far, everyone is happy to linger awhile!  Take a look at how the starkness of the high contrast black and white hand painted "wallpaper" grew more subdued under its new purple "sky."  The design is borrowed from a platter I was enticed to buy at Pottery Barn.  I'll include the info of how to reproduce borrowed or found designs for you next week, when I reveal another smashing black+white paint finish I've been working on.  Never forget that while my colors may not necessarily be your colors, the techniques themselves are no less effective!


I had to battle my love of crisp white trim and the need for a warmer, creamy white, to compliment the existing strie.  Choosing any color is always a process of elimination.  Once I taped up each shade of white I was considering, I forced myself to eliminate my usual favorites--Paradise Beach 911, which is too pink, and Palace White 956, which is too grey.


I looked at the chips in the daylight and at night and, knowing the purple ceiling would influence the white hues, I waited until the ceiling was finished too.  One by one, I eliminated.  Using scissors, I unceremoniously cut the chips to the beat of my opinions; too grey, too yellow, too white; snip, snip, snip.  Finally, I arrived at a perfectly creamy beige, which is a near exact match to the existing strie combination. Refining the contrast of the trim color, to a near straight match to the wall finish, expands the wall perimeter. Each door is framed by 3 inches or more of trim on either side; 8 x 3 = 24 inches. It’s subtle, but I gained over two feet of consistent perimeter wall by virtue of my balanced trim color.  This is one sure way to make a space feel larger--reduce the surrounding trim color contrast. 



My final color tweak in the foyer begins to answer the call for must-have furnishings, and all the plain-old stuff a functional entry foyer, needs to have.  Besides adding some heft to the diminutive nature of the salvaged closet door, the tiny band of spicy, nearly green, brown, (Buckthorn 987) will lend it's cooperative nature to brass and wood surfaces elsewhere in the house.  It will also be a great ally to me when I begin the hunt for a super practical area rug that can withstand the perils of muddy boots.  Surely a trip to West Elm is in order?  I have many options for a rug now, which is good, because most color pros would suggest selecting the rug before painting the walls!  Ah, we're learning how to be brave colorists around here aren't we?

The foyer still needs a dazzling mirror, something high gloss to take the "grandma" away and a chair.  For right now, I'm mesmerized by the Bonne Nuit, and thrilled I was able to enhance the big color winner in the room--the black+white wall finish.

Stay colorful.


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Welcome to the Northeast Ana! You may want to consider a warmer yellow than Haystack for your well-lit kitchen. The winter sun can be very strident here in the Northeast, and if you live somewhere where the snow lingers, your kitchen will appear extra bright in winter. Shooting star, 304, or Country comfort, 305, are both warm (and delicious!) kitchen yellows. I like your idea for orange--the success of which will depend on how much wall space you have. You'll want to have a nice expanse of wall for a dramatic orange. Cantaloupe, 157, and Sweet Melon, 121, are both warm and subtle, and will look lovely with your black counters, especially if your cabinets are wood? I'll be in my kitchen next week, and have lots more color tips to share. Best of luck in your new home!

I agree completely that nothing sets the mood in our homes better than an enticing color palette.

When it comes to home decorations, aside from your particular accesories at home color is one of the first thing that attracts the attention of your guest.

Beautiful entry way...I am looking for a color for my kitchen that is anchor by 3 windows. I am from the south and my last kitchen color was Haystack (pretty easy choice lots windows & good use of natural light).

I am not sure if I should continue with the Haystack or branch out to another yellow or consider something totally dramatic like orange (moved up to Northeast). Oh, my counter tops and appliances are black (came with the purchase).


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