I've been thinking a lot about color and culture, and have been exploring that theme in my fine art for many years. The landscape around us effects how we perceive color. This week I painted this silk scarf directly from the inspiration of some recent travels.
Choose the colors for your home that reflect the colors of your life.
Deep reds, earthy golds and gorgeous blues are no longer seen exclusively on the walls of trendy Mexican restaurants. Finally, the rest of the country has caught on and color is popping up everywhere! Now is the time to brighten up su casa with wondrous color.
Lush colors are associated with the richness and diversity of Latino culture. The love of abundant color defines the Latina soul – not a particular hue. Whether you love sun-drenched or subdued colors or something in between, you will learn to choose the colors that resonate with you. Regardless of the trends in home décor, remember that ultimately you will feel your best in a home that reflects your soul and the spirit of your family.
Color both creates and moves energy in your home. The colors you see as you walk throughout your home create an emotional climate in each room. Reds, golds and orange colors stimulate the appetite for food and friendship. Use them to create a warm inviting dining room and kitchen. Cool blues, violets and greens vibrate with a serene energy that may be perfect for a bedroom or sitting area. Rich neutrals like taupe, ginger and earthy browns and greens lower the energy in a room to a soft hum, perfect for a restful living room or library.
How do you find the colors you love and use them to create a home that resonates with your soul? Begin by figuring out which colors you really like. Start with something close to your heart – the colors of the landscape of your childhood home or the color of your favorite Cuban coffee. Latinas look gorgeous in a rainbow of colors. Check out your closet and you’ll often find that the colors you love to wear are often as flattering in your surroundings as they are on you. Take a trip to the mercado and walk down the produce aisle. Collect a basket of fruits and vegetables for inspiration – the soft browns of a coconut husk look great with the deep reds and greens of dried and fresh chilies. Head over to the paint store and pick up paint chips that approximate your favorite colors.
Next – determine if the colors you choose will be easy for you and other family members to live with. Rely on your intuition when you make your color choices. Have a cup of chocolate or tea and sit quietly as you look at the color chips. You may feel insecure and want to ask a lot of people about the choices you are making. Don’t do that! Others will often respond from their personal preferences—not yours. Consider the concerns of your family and encourage them to be willing to try something different. Be brave with your color choices. Go with your heart – if you love it – you can find a way to make it work.
When you’re choosing a grouping of colors, consider how the light available in the room will affect them. Put your arrangement of paint chips in different parts of the room, including the floor. Note how they look as the light changes throughout the day.
If the colors you choose seem too bright for you to live with – subdue them by choosing tones that are lighter or deeper. If your color choices seem a bit too subtle – amp up the color and choose a more saturated color.
If you love neutrals instead of identifiable colors, choose a selection of neutrals that include both warm and cool tones. My Abuelita decorated her living room with warm golds and dark woods contrasted with cool neutral whites. Her subdued color choices were accented with an occasional richly colored accent pillow or upholstered chair. The effect was elegant and serene. She saved her brightest colors for her kitchen – baskets and hand painted bowls piled high with oranges and avocados, and strands of chili ristras she strung herself. She was a talented chef. The abundance of color in her kitchen conveyed her love of plentiful, beautiful food. The colors you choose for each room should reflect your feelings for and the purpose of that room.
You may not have a favorite neutral. Sometimes you may be stuck with neutrals that already exist in your house and are just too much effort to change. This could be the color of a natural wood or stone floor or window trim. In my kitchen, I “inherited” the gray laminate cabinetry and countertops. To make this gray neutral look like an intentional choice (something I actually wanted rather than something I was stuck with), I choose red as my dominant accent color.
Now that you’ve chosen your colors, it’s time to decide where to put them. Painting every wall in your room may be intimidating. Start small by choosing a few accent walls to begin with. Walk into a room and figure out the first three places your eye travels to. Those areas are your focal points. Emphasize the walls in those three areas with color. If your floor plan is relatively open and you can see more than two rooms from any vantage point, choose colors of a similar value for those adjoining rooms. If a room is isolated from others, you can use wildly different colors from the rest of the home.
Remember – when you make a change – hold off on judging the color until the entire area you intend to change is painted. Making one drastic change may be a bit out of context with the rest of the room. Judging a color too early doesn’t take into account the final vision.
So what do you do if the color really doesn’t work? Rather than immediately painting the entire area over again, I’ll take an old washcloth, dip it directly into the paint can and scrub a thin layer of a contrasting color (from one of the other colors in the grouping I chose) over the wall. This trick works well if the second color is also the ceiling or trim color. If the wall still doesn’t look right, try a different color. It’s only paint; so don’t get discouraged if your first idea isn’t perfect. An unexpected result is not a mistake; it’s a step to success. A color change can be a breathtaking transformation in your room. Keep that in mind when you stand back to admire the results of your changes — remember to breathe!
Bringing color into your home brings beauty into your daily surroundings and opens your mind to the richness of the world around you. Something as simple as painting a wall can open a door in your thought processes. The more you look at a variety of colors in the changing light of the day, the more sensitive you become to beauty. Become practiced at recognizing beauty in the simplest of things and soon you’ll notice that you’re living an abundant colorful life!
Value – the relative lightness of darkness of a color compared to white or black.
Neutral Colors – usually refers to color variations of brown, gray or off-white.
Warm Colors – make you think of fire; reds, yellows and oranges.
Cool Colors – make you think of a snow-covered landscape or cool spring day; greens, blues and violets.
Note: The warmth or coolness of a color is always determined in comparison to the colors that surround it. Example: Red is warmer than green. Compare green to blue and green becomes a warm color.