Color Question

melody-sMay 28, 2012

I don't have a great eye for color so I am asking for the wisdom of this group.

My new home is in the Seattle area, and typical for this area we have a lot of grey rainy days with a few months of glorious summer. Also, even on sunny days the quality of the light is more diffuse than it is further south.

I am having the house interior painted before I move in and need to choose a color. I am debating between SW Restful White (a soft purer white) and Cottage Cream (a creamy ivory). I like the shabby chic, vintage, romantic decorating style. There are beams and boards on the ceiling which will be painted the same color as the walls. Most of the house will be the same color with the exception of an accent wall in a soft green (SW Koi Pond).

I think the Restful White is closer to what I have seen in the books and magazine, but they always seem to be in a warm sunny climate and I am not sure if that makes a difference. In the dreary days of winter I need a bit of warmth and I am concerned that the brighter white would seem too cold. I have tried samples of each of the potential colors and my initial sense was the Cottage Cream was better. I am just not sure if it will distract from the style I am after.

Given the light conditions and my intended style what would you recommend?

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Given your style, I would use the creamy white for sure. When linens and furniture are not modern or contemporary, but cottage or vintage or traditional, I feel it looks better.

I recently used SW Kerstal White in a bedroom area and was very pleased with it. It reads white but actually has quite a bit of light tan in it. It is very warm.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 12:27PM
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I would use the creamy white and throw in pure white accents. You need the warmth in the paint and you won't get it with Restful white. In the end it will all read white with various tones which make it so much more interesting.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 1:09PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

You might consider something more blue. Swedish design uses a lot of pale blue in their design and they spend 6 mos of the year in darkness as they are so far north. The pale blue and white helps offset the dreariness and lack of sunlight.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 3:51PM
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Thanks. I will go with the Cottage Cream color. The very light blue is an interesting idea, but I would not want it for the entire house. I will keep that in mind when I am ready to decorate/repaint the bedrooms.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 10:40PM
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I'd suggest the creamier white too but if it's too creamy maybe consider something like BM Simple White. Def. white but I nixed it in some of my rooms as reading to warm (I like a bright crisp white).

AnnieDeighnaugh - Love that pic! Where is it from?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 6:07AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

the pic is from a search on "swedish" and you'll get lots of beautiful rooms...many with the pale blue scheme.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 10:25AM
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As someone who lives in the Midwest, where it's gray for many months, I've never understood how the pale grays and blues offset the Swedish winters. I would have thought that warmer colors would do that. It seems to me that the Swedish look is more a reflection of the landscape (snow and ice and lake colors) than an antidote to it. The only reason I'm asking this is because I've thought of the pale blues and whites during our long gray months and they seem more desolate than cozy. But then maybe I'm completely wrong about Sweden!!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 3:36PM
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I agree that an off-white or cream would be a great color as the background for the shabby chic/cottage look that you like. You could then fill your home with rich wood and a lot of floral accents. Also agree with Indygo-girl that what is presented to us as Swedish design, with its ice blues and whites and grays reflects the winter landscape there. It may be pretty in a royal ballroom, but perhaps not so much for family life that needs to be cheerful through those chilly gray days.

For a different view of Scandinavian/Swedish interiors and home life, take a look at the paintings of Sweden's celebrated artist Carl Larsson. He uses lots of color and a lot of "stuff" to enhance his homey pictures. Beware though! These paintings are very charming and endearing and not expensive, either. I always have a struggle leaving this website without buying!

Click on, especially, Homelife, Interiors, and Crafts.

Here is a link that might be useful: Scandinavian Cozy

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 4:46PM
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My husband is from Sweden and I lived there for a short while, and have spent several months visiting. We try to go back every other year (his family here one year, us there the next). We'll be married 15 years this year, and in all those trips I've probably only brought back a small bag of things for the house (and a lot of them came from an Indian style store chain they have there, they aren't even Swedish!)

Where his family lives (right around the middle of the country) bright white walls are fairly common, with their natural pine floors, or this really hard manmade surface that's comparable to formica -- and super sturdy/thick wood blinds for blocking that midnight sun, of course! The airy blue mentioned above is fairly common too. All quite utilitarian.

From your descriptions I can completely picture a thick cream color. I have an old picture from PB somewhere that was my inspiration pic for my great room until I went a completely different direction, but the pic always "felt" so happy and warm to me. Think great creamy walls, white secondaries, and orange pops. Not garish orange, more like a mica lamp, and an apothecary jar full of dried orange slices. Mixture of wicker, wood and iron furniture. I'll post the pic if I can find it when I get home.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 5:30PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

In my view the pale blue has to do with the brightness of the light. When it's dark outside, you need more light and the blue is a brighter, whiter light than those with a cast of yellow tones....think about the LED lights and how bright and blue they are. If you are looking for warmth, then yellow shades, but if you want an antidote to dark months, then blue is it.

I remember being in Seattle one time and driving to a 9 am meeting and at 8:30 am it was still dark. I was SOOO depressed! But it wasn't terribly cold...just dark.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 7:18PM
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I think warmth is what I am looking for. I need to feel cozy in my home.

Since I moved here I have learned that the best antidote for the dark times is lots of lighting. For the most part good lighting works well, but it does get a bit rough in Dec and Jan.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 10:01PM
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I am a big advocate of subtle color in ceilings, and in your climate, with your creamy walls, I would consider a whisper of peachy color in the ceilings, particularly if your trim is bright white.

It's amazing how much warmth that subtle pinkness above you can bring into a scheme, even when it isn't noticeable as a color. Red and yellow are the parts of the spectrum that are missing in the cool wet light of the Pacific northwest, and so adding those tints back in can balance your scheme.

Two very pale, hardly noticeable peach tones are Donald Kaufman's #70, and Martin Senour's "First Bloom" MSW-27. For a little more noticeable peachyness, Duron/Sherwin Wms. "Polish Pink SW-7114 or "Pinkish" SW-7112 are worth considering.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 9:28AM
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