Monday, July 21, 2014

Picking A Paint Colour: Style at Home Designer Secrets

Thank you to Style at Home, I was thrilled to be participate in their special 100+ Designer Secrets colour issue, which hit the stands a while back.  I have to admit I had some difficulty getting my hands on a copy, the first one I had was left behind at a girfriends before I even cracked it open (and I never saw it again) then it took quite some time to find another copy on the East Coast.  Inside you’ll find some tips from myself and other paint aficionados on how to pick paint colours.  Its a a great topic, one of the major components of every project I work on is selecting all the paint finishes, usually for an entire house. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to elaborate beyond my tips included in the issue.  How and where to start when picking a paint colour?

Many designers will say that they pull the paint colour from a fabric, or select a paint based on the exposure of the room or chose colours from the homeowners wardrobe.  All common approaches when decorating an existing room.  But what if the space a) doesn’t have any significant fabric, or b) doesn’t have a window or c) the occupants vary in age, gender, and fashion taste.  Many times you can be in a position to have to pick a paint colour without having a significant fabric or persian rug to work with.  You can still lay the groundwork for a beautiful palette - if you chose the right neutrals you can layer in the colour later.

Because most of my client projects are renovations, often the paint colours for the entire interior have to be selected long before the homeowners and I have even contemplated new fabrics or area carpets or before they've accumulated an art collection.  Sometimes newly furnishing the space will follow a year or so after move in, sometimes only a few main rooms are decorated with the remaining to be completed over time.  Aside from those situations that are driven by time and budgets, there are many spaces in a house that often don’t ever have fabrics in them such as; bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, staircases or laundry rooms. The paint colour can spin off of a fabric story from adjacent rooms but that colour, primarily, has to relate to the hard surfaces.

Finish samples for a clients kitchen (paint top right).  The paint selections compliment the wood floor and cabinets, the marble backsplash and quartz countertop and stainless steel.

My process for selecting paint is always the same. It never starts with fabric.  The approach I take with paint is that its role is to enhance everything in the space (and the views outside) not distract from it.  First and foremost I take direction from the permanent surfaces and architectural details like wood, stone, tiles, metal, mouldings and in some cases broadloom. These are far more permanent than any fabric or wallpaper but are the foundation of the overall palette and have to be considered with every paint selected.  Secondly, I take into consideration the style and character of the home (Heritage or contemporary).  Lastly, the natural light and views - what is the setting, what is the view outside the windows. (The only exception to any of the above is kids rooms, its all about their favourite colour and making it work for both mom and child!).

All the upholstery fabrics chosen for the living room in this contemporary home were pulled from the colours in the stone fireplace.  The travertine stone tile was also used in the entryway and a guest bathroom.

For 90% of the interiors I design, I could happily work from a paint deck of nothing but greys and when I say grey, my definition of grey covers a wide spectrum from warm to cool, from almost white to almost black , from clear to muddy and with undertones that can make them read green, blue, beige, purple or brown.  Light and airy, to dark and dramatic, its all there.  Its in this spectrum that I always find the perfect neutral that works beautifully with the finishes of the house as well as more vibrant colours that could be found in the garden, fabrics or the painting over the mantel.  For walls, when I'm not chosing white I'm always drawn to the mineral, sky and watery greys.  I am least drawn to anything with a red undertone or citrus colours because I don't think they pair favorabely with most natural wood tones (typically golden or reddish woods) they don’t compliment or contrast instead they can clash with these woods or suffocate the room in one note. (This is particularly the case in Canada where we use a lot of wood floors, wood cabinets, wood railings, and wood furniture.)  Contrary to this effect greyed neutrals do the complete opposite, to my eye grey makes all other colours and materials look better.  Grey is anything but dreary in fact I love how grey brings everything in a room to life - nothing enhances wood tones, complements colour and is crisper with white trim better than grey.  It has the ability to make anything paired with it look modern and sophisticated, and that's why it has been and will continue to be my go to palette for picking the perfect colour.

The natural walnut floors and various feature stones inspired the paint palette for throughout the home.  The paint palette was a range of off-whites and greys,  contrasted by black metal window frames.
You can never judge a grey by the paint chip alone,,,these chameleons only reveal their true beauty in context with the whole of the room. Sample, sample, sample.

Whether you like your spaces neutral or colourful you'll find loads of great colour tips and advice in this issue, including my best tip on picking the right paint colour and what paint combo i'm coveting now.   If you haven’t see it yet its on stands until August 31st.

All Photos and Design (Except Cover Photo):  Carol Reed Interior Design

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Boathouse Bathroom: Before & After

Happy Canada Day! Its a perfect day to share a before and after of a clients red & white cottage bathroom.  This boathouse bathroom evokes a classic canadian cottage style and what's even more dreamy about it is the sound of the waves lapping against the docks below you.

Last year I completed a whole Cottage renovation for a client that involved updating the main cottage and boathouse to incorporate all new finishes and fixtures but without doing extensive construction. I find these type of projects incredibly enjoyable because its so exciting to explore the potential of the existing space and see the dramatic improvements that can result by making a series of simple but thoughtful changes.  By simple I don’t mean the modifications didn’t still require a lot of time, effort, and co-ordination but they were simple in that they didn’t require new construction or complicated modifications.  I made a visit to the cottage a few weeks ago to check on the status before this season got underway.

Boathouse Bathroom Before

The entire interior of the boathouse (which is only used seasonally) was knotty pine, with exception of the floor which was carpeted in the living areas and tiled in the bathroom.  The biggest change I made was that every bit of exposed natural wood on the interior was painted white, and then we added new but reclaimed wide plank engineered pine on the floor.  Essentially I took all the wood away from the walls and ceilings and put it on the floor.  This effectively doubled the brightness of the interior, emphasized its dramatic vaulted ceilings and painting the wood panelling created interesting tone on tone texture.  The best part was the lake view and exterior landscape became the focal point. The white paint transformed the boathouse interior to a fresh, bright, summery oasis.

The boathouse bathroom is a good size with interesting ceiling lines but was dated with respect to its fixtures and accessories and the ceramic floor a bit too suburban looking.  Everything about the vanity was perfect though, it was excellent quality and was hand built from solid wood with lots of storage and was in perfect condition, that and the mirror were definitely keepers.  I even loved the natural pine countertop and wanted to preserve it because i think its an excellent choice for this application it’s not the place for expensive marble or quartz.  I saw loads of potential for this space merely with paint and new fixtures.  A main criteria for selecting new items was we had a very short timeline to complete all the changes so everything needed to be readily available and/or deliverable to cottage country.  Below is a rough concept I put together for the owners and they quickly agreed with all the proposed changes...

New proposed finishes, Carol Reed Interior Design.

The vanity and the existing mirror would simply be updated with a red paint and some new striped ceramic knobs.  New engineered plank fooring replaced the tile and was in the same tones as the existing wood countertop.  The key to retaining the wood countertop was replacing the old drop-in sink with a vessel style sink that would fit over the old sink cutout.  I decided to mix in some more contemporary fixtures with the otherwise very traditional space but keeping the metal finishes in a dark bronze gives them a more relaxed nostalgic look.  A gooseneck barn light fixture with filament style bulb gives the bathroom a modern rustic vibe.

Boathouse Bathroom - After

In the end we opted for a countertop mounted faucet in lieu of the wall mounted (from the same series) for an easier install.  A simple hook for a hand towel (I’m obsessed with turkish towels ones and stock up on them whenever I find them!) its rope fringe and blue stripes evoke a nautical vibe, an oversize seagrass basket and more wall hooks on the opposite wall (not yet installed) store large beach towels.

Boathouse Bathroom Vanity - After.

My visit to the cottage last month was my first since all the major installations were completed in the boathouse last summer so its was a thrill to see the progress.  I took note of some final details that still need to be addressed, one of them includes installing new knobs on the vanity, I'm in love with the white ones I found with a stripe around the rim which i think will be the perfect finishing touch.  Lastly I think the floor needs a fun colourful indoor/outdoor rug for in front of the vanity.  But so far the transformation of this lakeside loo as been a dramatic improvement - I think its now bursting with character and style!

Happy Canada Day!

All Photos and Room Design by:  Carol Reed
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