Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Colour Scheme Bible

Sophisticated system for combining colours: A new book is packed with pratical advice and a sophisticated mix-and-match system
-by Shelley Fralic, CanWest News Service

VANCOUVER B.C. - Choice, as anyone who has ever faced a wall of paint chips in the home improvement store well knows, can be a burden.
Steel is the new black. Ash is the new white. Marmalade is the new red. Primary, secondary, tertiary, sample pots, matching, tinting...
Color me confused.
If you long for the days when your vermilion pencil crayon was your most colourful possession, and really just need help in finding the right shade for the kitchen, check out The Colour Scheme Bible, written by Anna Starmer and published by Firefly Books ($29.95, wirebound hardcover).
Starmer offers a brief history of colour and then, for the purposes of the book, breaks the decorating choices into 10 palettes - pinks, reds, violets, oranges, browns, blues, yellows, greens, neutrals, greys.
Up front is a gallery of 200 paint chips taken from those palettes. These "main" colours key to pages that show them teamed with two highlight and two accent colours, along with tips on where and how to use the hues.
It's a sophisticated mix-and-match system with some surprising colour marriages.
Because I wish I was one, I picked a soft blond - it's called honey- from the front-of-the-book key and turned to find it matched with accents in cream and chocolate brown, with highlights in raspberry and neon pink.
I'm also going through a pink phase, so chose a tinted pink porcelain chip, which Starmer suggests is best accented with peach-organza and muted peach melba, along with poppy and Japanese lacquered red for highlighting.
Boldly going in fantasy where I'd never go in reality, I then opted for a deep purple as a main colour, and discovered it paired with a hue called bark that was the colour of something a Canada goose might leave behind.
Black and tan are big in home decor right now, and Starmer likes then coupled with violet and cobalt blue.
And so it goes, page after page -256 in all- a paint chip fetishist's gold mine.
The book also touches on the psychology of coulour as a mood enhancer, and how a certain shade can make you feel happy or sad.
For instance, says Starmer, orange stimulates creativity, blues are meditative, violet is sexy and yellow helps the brain work better.
The author thinks the colours you choose for your home should reflect your personality and suggests the use of a "mood boar," a collage of photographs, fabric and wallpaper swatches, paint chips and other bbits and pieces of personal inspiration that will help reveal your inner rainbow.
The book is infused with flowery language and adjectives like juicy and smart and laundered and sugary and flirtatious, all of which are nonsense and mean nothing when you put paint on a roller.
But once you get past its preciousness - we don't really want to eat paint or even date it - The Colour Scheme Bible is a useful self-consulting tool for the typical homeowner seeking adventure in a can of paint.
Starmer, billed as a colour and design specialist who has done work for IKEA, reminds us that it's only been in the past century that colour, once linked to the wealthy, has come to the masses, through television and magazines and the production of plastics and dyes.
Today, it's purported that technology allows us to create about 16 million different colours, any one of which you can choose to transform that kitchen.
Remember, then, the best advice that isn't in this book.
Go crazy. It's only a can of paint.

-found in "The Times Colonist" and dated 03/26/2005