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Author: Cristina Acosta

Cristina Acosta is an artist, author and color expert: Beautiful paintings, artisanal interior design and delicious recipes.

Losing Your Keys? Good Interior Design in the Entryway Can Help

Your entryway interior design could be sabotaging your life. How would you know? Well, do you lose things often at home, such as your keys, glasses or wallet? Do you pile things around, vowing to put them away later when you “have the time”? If this sounds like your experience, you may not be a scatter-brained slob, you may just be the victim of poor interior design.

Whimsical vintage key rack doubles as a hat hook.
Whimsical vintage key rack doubles as a hat hook.

Don’t rely on your willpower to change your losing ways. Instead, create physical systems in your entryway that support your personality and loosing things will occur less often. I’ve been known to put my purse in the refrigerator while hurriedly unloading groceries, so I know what I’m talking about. Implement my tips, then practice the habit of using them – the habit combined with the physical fixes is what will help you stay organized.

Imagine your home as a box of tools. Everything you put in that box must serve you in the best way possible. Unless you have the funds to remodel, the way you move throughout the home will be mostly controlled by the architecture. Despite that, there are still things you can do in your entryway to control chaos and encourage your neat self – no matter how small that self may be. Here are a few tips.

  • Install one or more key racks with hooks near EACH outside Entryway door: Use these racks for hanging keys and sunglasses safely and quickly as you enter or leave your home. If you wear hats, be sure to add a hat hook or peg.
  • Add organizers to your entryway: (If you mostly enter the house through the garage, install an organizer there). Place a bookshelf, vintage storage lockers, etc., or build cubbies with a basket, shelf or space for EACH person in the home. Make this area is large enough to hang purses, hats, jackets, shoes, umbrellas and other regularly used items.
  • Rest and regroup: Put a bench and/or table near the front door (outside as well if your situation allows): use this surface to rest groceries, etc., as you look for a key, stage items to leave with you, change shoes and more.

    An entryway mirror can brighten the space as well as give you a last minute visual check.
    An entryway mirror can brighten the space as well as give you a last minute visual check.
  • Hang an entryway mirror: Include a hook nearby for a lint roller for a quick clothing touch-up.
  • Control the entryway crud: Use both an inside and outside floor mat. Choose an exterior mat that catches the most dirt, water and sand depending upon your location, such as: cast iron or rubber lattice doormat, recessed grille mats, water-hog polypropylene mats with water dam boarder, or carpet and sisal mats if the transition area is relatively clean.
  • Remember to Charge: Add a power docking station to power bike lights and phones in the entryway so that you will remember to pick them up as you pass by.

Implement the entryway ideas that you think will work in your entry with the goal that each change will work with you and your family member’s thinking style and provide easy to use solutions that decrease drama and loss. These entryway ideas have worked well for me, and though I’m certainly not perfectly organized, I spend a lot less time looking for keys, purses, phones, etc., than I used to.

Great_Room_Accent_Wall © Cristina Acosta

How to Hang Art Advice from an Artist

Hanging art is all about location, location, location. As an artist, curator and interior designer, I’m giving you some how-to hang art advice that will help you place your pictures like a pro. Learning to hang art well is a craft (though some make it an art-form) that most anyone can learn.

Hanging art throughout your home is not just about the oft repeated advice that the ideal picture height is 57″ on center, measured from the floor. Here are a few tips:

  • Pick an art theme:
    • Choose art using visual themes – food, portraits, landscapes, abstract, etc. and hang the art in a room where that theme is appropriate to the decor.
    • Choose art using color themes – arrange art pieces by colors, such as placing all pieces with a predominance of cool blues and greens together, or pieces that are predominately in warm reds, yellow and oranges together.
    • Choose value themes – group art images with of like value together such as light soft values, bright colors, or dark values.
  • Create a focal point: Stand at the doorway to the room and notice where your eye goes first. That’s a focal point. Depending upon the size of a room, there is usually a main focal point with secondary and tertiary focal points. Hang art in those focal areas.
  • Cross-pollinate colors with art: Use art to add a pop of color to a room. Then add decor accent pieces that have some of the colors in the art: colored pillows, throws, lamps, etc.
  • Intimate versus expansive art: Small pieces of art are by nature of their size, more intimate. Large pieces are more expansive. Keep that in mind and put small pieces in areas where they get the attention they deserve. If you have a lot of small pieces, consider clustering them so that they act as one large piece on a wall.
  • Size matters: You can put a large painting on a small wall if the scale of the room works with it. Try an oversized painting in a small room and see how it works, you may surprise yourself.
  • Cluster: Treat a collection of small framed pieces as though it is one big painting or photograph:
  • The ideal picture height: Yes, scour the internet and you will see 57″ on center is the magic number. It might be. But this is your house and you and the people in it may like art a bit higher or lower. Use the 57″ as a starting place. End up wherever you would like. Just remember to be consistent throughout the room.
  • Proportion is key: Be sensitive to how the size and scale of the art feels in that particular room. Oversized might be perfect. A cluster of undersized art might be perfect. This is about your sensitivities. Change as needed.
  • Make Mistakes: Keep patching material and touch up paint on hand to make your mistakes easy to deal with. Mistakes are the mortar of creativity. Without mortar the bricks won’t be make a strong wall. When you work with your mistakes you will  observe, think and create more solutions.

Remember that location is key when hanging art. The right piece in the right space will feel right to you. And remember, measure twice before hanging (if you’re like me).



Paint Color Ideas, Color Tips for Your Home

Are you choosing wall paint colors for your home and using up valuable time? Do you need some paint color ideas? Call me for color help. We can consult remotely or in person. I’m spending this Fall/Winter season in the Coachella Valley Palm Springs, California, area and am available to work with you on your home, inside and out. Here are a few paint color tips that apply to most any residential or commercial architecture.

Wall Paint Color Ideas to Get You Going:

  • No remodel mishmash: Choose all of the colors for the building at once. A master color plan will save you time and money in the long run. Trying to link one “done” room to another and another as you fix up the house can result in an awkward lack of flow.
  • Shine control is crucial: Be sure to specify paint sheens for wall color and trim color that are consistent with both the use of the room and your interior design concepts. Many paint brands now offer a “washable” flat wall paint which can expand your paint sheen options.
  • Be there: Choosing paint colors in person, in the building, is the best way to choose wall paint color. Remote color choosing works, but not as quickly or easily.
  • Stick with a paint brand: Stay within the same brand of paint color as much as possible. Each paint brand uses consistent base tones to mix their colors. “Matching” a wall paint color from another paint brand can be iffy as the base tone choices the paint technician has are never a 100% match across brands.
  • Choose your expensive permanent surfaces first. It’s much easier to match paint to a natural stone or wood finish than it is to match those surfaces to a paint color. The large paint companies such as Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore and Pittsburgh Paint have literally hundreds of colors each of green, blue, brown, white, etc. Take advantage of the luxury of color variety that paint offers.

Note: Call Cristina Acosta 541-389-5711 for paint color advice and interior design color solutions. Fees are by the project and/or by the hour. My fee is $150.00 hourly with a minimum $300.00 for the first visit. Projects requiring travel will include travel fees and a per diem.



Color expert Cristina Acosta talks about white paint colors

Benjamin Moore’s 2016 Color of the Year is a Safe Bet for an Election Year

Will the 2016 election year be a white-out or a clean start? It’s impossible to say what the future holds, and one color that can swing in most any stylistic direction says it all – White. Benjamin Moore Paints, a U.S. paint coatings company based on the East Coast recently announced their choice of the “Color of the Year.” Welcome, Simply White OC 117, to the top of the color sample pile.

Simply White is a beautiful warm white paint color (which means it has a golden yellow undertone). Is it intrinsically more amazing than the other 250+ shades of white in the Benjamin Moore color palette? No. Similar Benjamin Moore whites, such as Snowfall White OC-118, Mountain Peak White OC-121, Cotton Balls OC-122, and Cloud Nine OC-119 are just as lovely.

Just like a menu listing or a book title, the name says it all. Can you imagine “Cotton Balls” as the color of the year? It’s a name stuck in the baby’s bathroom. Mountain Peak and Cloud Nine carry names just a bit too aspirational and over-reaching for a country dealing with the many shades of gray born of economically doubtful times.

So, Simply White it is. Its a gently optimistic name defining a white the color of whole-milk. But don’t let the name fool you. Layer whites of texture and shape and various temperatures (bluish whites, peach whites, mauve whites, etc.) and white can transform from a neutral clean slate to an aggressive assertion of pure dominance. Context is everything.

How you use a color is as important as which color you choose. Like the twenty six letters of the English alphabet, it’s the combinations that count. How a color is placed in a room, the quantities of that color, the architecture of that room, the latitude and longitude of that room, and the time and place that room occupies in human history are all influencing how the person or people in that room perceive the color.

If you are a real estate developer or a car manufacturer, learning that white is the new “It Color,” in the world of design might give you some peace of mind. Nothing about the phrase, “paint it white” seems risky or edgy. It’s been done before. And it never seemed to really bother anybody. Investments are safe and bets are hedged. If thoughts of beige and gray add to one’s free-floating anxiety, white is the panacea.

And, there is a lot to be anxious about. Global climate change, economic downturns, water scarcity, rising sea levels, species die-offs and human greed have weighted all of us with uncertainty. It’s time to settle in, minimize distractions and make changes that reduce pain and suffering. “We” is no longer just humanity. All species are connected.

Though there might be a bit of hubris defining the “color of the year” for 318 million Americans, anticipating what those Americans will want next year is not only fun, its big business. Hubris becomes self confident forecasting. Billions of manufacturing dollars follow the color trends and predictions, trickling down to the colors in our homes and on our backs.

A blank white screen or piece of white copy paper is an expanse with the potential to be filled with absolutely anything. White appears simple and open with unlimited possibilities. Solutions are just a page away. Simply White is a perfect election year color defined by an American company projecting a reservedly optimistic future.

Color Wheel from Paint Happy by ©Cristina Acosta

Complementary Colors – Tips and Ideas

Remember that opposites attract and you’ll start to get a grip on the concept of complementary colors.  But like any relationship of opposites, the passionate pop of togetherness can be festive and passionate or garish and out-of-control.

What exactly are complementary colors? Simply, they are colors that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel or color circle, a schematic that presents pigment colors in at the least, their primary and secondary relationships. Color circles or wheels dating to the 1700’s help artists and scientists visually understand the color experience (check this Wikipedia link). The complimentary colors opposite each other on the color wheel are pairs, for example: Red is opposite (complements) Green, Blue is opposite Orange, Yellow is opposite Violet. Science and history aside, here are some practical tips for using complementary colors in real life.

  • Follow the 80%-20% rule: Create dominance of one color over another by using  about 10%-20% of one complement against 80%-90% of the other complementary color. In the photos below, you can see how the red and green of the cup and grass change dominance due to their visual ratio. This is a 2-dimensional example that shows you how colors work in a contained area (print, painting, a computer or tv screen).
Green Dominates the Red Complementary Color
Green Dominates the Red Complementary Color
Red dominates the Green complementary color
Red dominates the Green complementary color










Choosing complementary colors for architectural spaces is a different challenge. When using complementary colors in a room or an area where multiple wall colors are visible from different vantage points, the percentages of color will vary with a person’s vantage point. My 80%-20% rule is a guideline, not a mandate, and like any design or art “rule,” can be broken successfully. As a architectural colorist I find that playing with the ratios of various colors is a exciting balancing act that shifts as you walk through a room or in and around a large architectural space.

Cascade Middle School Colors by Cristina Acosta, architectural colorist.
Cascade Middle School Colors by Cristina Acosta, architectural colorist. Note how the complementary colors of blue (turquoise) and orange balance each other.

For color consulting, contact colorist Cristina Acosta. 541-389-5711 [email protected]



Loft home colors red green gold © Cristina Acosta

Rich Wall Colors for a Great Room Loft

Three deep, saturated colors combine in one two-story open loft space. The architecture is inspired by a mid-century modern aesthetic with a Pacific Northwest inspired color palette. The client wanted a color plan that brightened the gray winter days giving their vacation condo a ski lodge feeling.

The two story loft area consisted of the dining area downstairs and an office upstairs. The entire loft area is open to the living room and kitchen and is part of a great-room. The architectural space was complex and mulit-use, which made it a fascinating project. I love architectural projects that are complex juxtapositions of space and structure. Designing a interior color plan is like creating a lovely rubix cube of color you can walk through.

Benjamin Moore Master Color Palette:

  • “Green” Dry Sage 2142-40 (eggshell)
  • “Gold” Roasted Sesame Seed 2060-40 (eggshell)
  • “Red” Rhubarb 2007-30 (eggshell)

Kitchen – Walls and ceiling including outside wrap and structure on dining side – Roasted Sesame Seed 2060-40

Dining – Walls all the way up stairway wall and North wall to the top  of second story loft– Rhubarb 2007-30. Ceiling in lower dining area — Roasted Sesame Seed 2060-40

Ceiling of Great Room (living, dining, entry) All Dry Sage 2142-40

*note: these particular colors are effective in this particular architectural environment. Test them before using them in your home.


Hire Cristina as your color expert for: Residential, commercial and institutional architectural projects. On site and remote projects welcome. Traveling is an additional option.

Exterior architecture bright colors of school by Cristina Acosta

Exterior Paint Colors Enhance Architecture

Color can change the way you perceive architecture, and it’s the least expensive “remodel” you can do! Artists know that color “moves” visually in space. Colors recede or advance depending upon where they are in relationship to each other and their surroundings.

If you are a homeowner choosing exterior paint colors, here are a few color tips:

  • Check to see if your neighborhood has any restrictions regarding color use. Often titled Covenants and Restrictions these rules will limit the choices you have. If your neighborhood is a designated historical area check with the local Historical Society or Building Dept. to learn if colors are restricted to historical colors typical to the era your house was built.
  • Choose at least 3 colors for the home so things don’t get too dull. Please don’t think that painting the whole house one color will make it “blend in”. The result is usually very “lumpish”. In a typical home the colors can applied like this:
    • Body Color (main part of house)

      Cottage cabin exterior colors © Cristina Acosta
      Cottage cabin exterior colors © Cristina Acosta
    • Trim Color (around windows and Doors)
    • Fascia Color (trim around the roof and possibly the belly band (6″ – 12″ wide plank trim that separates 2 stories, or the body of the house from the peak of the roof).
    • Door Color
  • The example of the home below shows this idea altered to suit the mid-century modern sensibility of the 25 year old home. Originally the windows were un-trimmed, so I only specified a fascia trim (in tan). To enhance the modern segments of the architecture, I had those segments each painted contrasting colors. The palette was inspired by the colors of the beach pebbles and flora at Elk Lake, a nearby High Cascade lake.

    Contemporary Exterior Paint Colors by Cristina Acosta
    Bold use of exterior paint colors enhances the complex contemporary architecture
  • Buy the best paint you can afford. High quality exterior paint has excellent UV blockers.
  • Whether you are painting it yourself or having it done, make sure that the prep work is well done. A good foundation of prep work will make your final paint colors last years longer.
  • If you have a strong prevailing wind/sun direction, put a extra coat of paint on those sides of the house. The entire paint job will last years longer.
Classic taupe and brown neutral wall colors © Cristina Acosta

Warm Gray Taupe Neutral Paint Colors are Calming and Serene

Three mushroom taupe neutral paint colors link the open plan master bedroom suite. Neutral colors can be “neutral” in several different tonal directions. This client’s master en suite bath is a selection of three mushroom taupe neutrals that coordinate beautifully as they merge within the architectural space of the room.

I specified Benjamin Moore Paint colors for this project. Areas of the master bath were open to the bedroom, so the color palette was used throughout the suite. The house is a large adobe style ranch house with contemporary and traditional accents. The color palette we developed for the entire home flowed beautifully in each wing of the home, changing moods with the rooms. It was a lovely project.

View From Master Bedroom into Bath with Rock Pillar and Wood Horse Sculpture:*

Ceiling of bedroom and Bathroom: Benjamin Moore, Whitall Brown HC-69, eggshell sheen.
Walls of Bedroom: Benjamin Moore, Jamesboro Gold HC-88, eggshell sheen.
Bathroom Walls: Benjamin Moore, Bear Creek 1470, eggshell sheen

*note: these particular colors are effective in this particular architectural environment. Test them before using them in your home.


Hire Cristina as your color expert for: Residential, commercial and institutional architectural projects. On site and remote projects welcome. Traveling is an additional option.

Classic Paint Colors ©Cristina Acosta

What’s Your Color Personality?

Originally published in Latina Style magazine, Su Casa home decor column, by Cristina Acosta

Dear Cristina,
I read somewhere that the colors I like tell a lot about my personality and that certain colors can affect my moods. Is it true that you can you tell what a person is like when you see the colors they paint their home? Can color change the way I feel?
J. Vigil

It’s certainly true that color, like music can encourage a particular mood or express an attitude. Don’t get carried away with the symbolic meanings of color just yet.  Often a lackluster color scheme is the result of a lack of confidence or knowledge of the design world, not a commentary on one’s character.
If people choose colors with as much confidence as they choose their music, you’d definitely get more of a sense of who they are when you view the results. Far more people are confident about their taste in music that are sure of their color sense.  Because of that, many people are afraid to experiment with color and often will choose colors for their home that seem safe – These are usually colors that they think other people will approve.

It’s time for a change. It’s time to ask yourself – What is my color personality?
Doty Horn, the Director of Color at Benjamin Moore Company says, “The trend is going to the individualizing of the color palette so that the person choosing it has a sense of ownership. This is who I am. This is my personality.”Johns Home-Livingroom.jpg
Just as we all don’t dance to the same tunes, colors don’t have the exact same effect on everyone. You may find that a color you love in one place doesn’t work at all in another location, whether that’s another room or another home. It’s the same thing that happens when a favorite album cut just doesn’t suit your mood at the moment, or you lose interest in it completely. As you change along with the world around you, so does your perception of color.

Josette Buisson, the Artistic Director of Pittsburgh Paints says“…conclusions (about color) are drawn from more subjective considerations, like the impact of technology on our life, our self-definition, and our relationships to one another.” She has developed a program for Pittsburgh Paints that links color choices to personality tendencies.

Though there is certainly scientific evidence that people in the same culture tend to share their response to certain colors, there are many exceptions. I love vibrant reds and use them in a variety of rooms in my home. Someone else may
experience red as over-stimulating and upsetting. Don’t take color advice verbatim.

Take a chance and experiment. Color is one of the most inexpensive design elements you can bring into your home. It is also the most powerful way you can express your personal home style.

So take time to discover which colors really grab you – not just the colors you think you “should” like. Peruse the websites of paint companies. Head to the store and collect paint chips of any color you’re interested in. When you have at least a few dozen samples, you’ll start to see a trend. Often you’ll surprise yourself when you see which colors you like.

Follow you heart and be brave with color. Whatever the result, when you surround yourself with your creative choices you will always feel energized and interested in your world.

These two pictures are from the same Hacienda-style home. For this formal yet friendly living room my clients chose colors in a subdued monochromatic palette of browns and golds. These colors express a calm and relaxed yet lush attitude. Bath, Green Project: Johns.jpg

A fiesta of color brightens the guest bath. The guest suite is down the hall from the more formal living room. Don’t be afraid to change moods throughout the house. Staying within the Hacienda concept, my clients were able to include more than one color palette.

Benjamin Moore Company   www.benjaminmoore.com
Pittsburgh Paint www.voiceofcolor.com
Article first published in Latina Style magazine

Nespresso boxes pair color with flavor

Inspired Sensational Color Can Be Yours!

Nespresso boxes pair color with flavor
Discovering and exploring inspiring color choices can entice us to try a new flavor. The Nespresso company has made an art form out of color choice as it affects product packaging and display placement. (And I love the coffee!)
photo: ©Cristina Acosta

Pick a color, any color, and you’ll be surprised. Because if you follow your color bliss and choose colors that attract and inspire you, the right color is closer than you think. Start randomly choosing colors that attract you and after you’ve made 50 to 100 selections, there will be a pattern to your color choices. Guaranteed. I see it with every client.

And no matter how forward-thinking or retro-minded we may be, we are still in the present moment. Which is why we need to repaint, remodel, re-brand, etc. Time is marching on and change is inevitable. Colors go in and out of fashion because pushing the changes of fashion is the flow of time and perception.

That said, can a color choice be out of context for a particular project or a particular room? Absolutely, if that project or room already has a defined color scheme. Choosing colors that integrate into an existing color plan has a different set of parameters than creating a completely new color plan.

If you want to know what you really think and feel about color, pay attention to what inspires you and look for patterns as your choices add up. Inspired, sensational color can be yours!