Before you take a claw hammer to your walls, grab that carpet remainder that’s on sale, or decide you have to move to be happy in a home, consider calling a color consultant.
What, you ask, is a color consultant?
Let’s be clear: We aren’t talking about the person who dyes your hair. Rather, just as an architect can show you the plan for building a new home, a color consultant can show you a well thought out plan for painting your home and harmonizing the colors.
“A color consultant should be called in when a homeowner is thinking about painting, but they just don’t know,” explains color consultant Roxann Childe.
With a background in painting, design, and the effects of color and form in places of work and play, Childe takes a close look at, and has a long talk about, what a homeowner wants.
“I’m looking at placement, at the type of paint, and how it fits with the overall picture,” she explains.The benefits of her work are readily seen by clients: In addition to a fresh coat of paint on the walls in colors that match what they own, homeowners can also often forego more expensive remodeling.
Homeowners then have a choice: They can do the painting themselves, or hire a painter. Either way, Childe provides them with a specification sheet that can be used to fairly compare bids or, in the do-it-yourself scenario, ensure that the specified color is purchased.
In fact, Childe often helps her clients broaden their color spectrum. “As a color consultant, I have access to lines of paints, and know about lines of paints and paint colors, that the average homeowner may not be aware of, or have access to,” she explains.
In fact, as part of her work, Childe also fixes ‘mistakes’ made by impatient homeowners. “Sometimes, when a homeowner has picked out a color themselves, they get it on the walls and they go, ‘Oh, it’s just so not right.’ That can be so defeating. My work prevents that.”
Whether working from scratch or correcting a do-it-yourself job gone wrong, Childe says the cure is not always drastic. “Most people don’t realize the correction is usually miniscule.
Many times, the original color just needs to be lightened or darkened,” she explains. “It’s not always as catastrophic as people think.” Childe adds that often, in attempting to correct it themselves, homeowners will go too far the opposite direction. (So for example, if a color was too red and clashed with the furniture’s blue tones, the homeowner is likely to rush out and buy a bluer paint that clashes with the orange or other tones in a room.)
While Childe, like many of her colleagues, belongs to IACCNA (International Association for Color Consultants North America), she differs from other consultants in several ways.
The most obvious way is that Childe does not rely solely on computer renderings. “My style is personal, so I’d prefer to show them actual swatches and do sketches,” she explains. “Plus, if you are just emailing a person a computer-generated plan, their computer may not be calibrated, so the colors may not be accurate.”
Childe also believes that meeting a client one on one and discussing their desires and goals are extremely important. “It’s important that my clients feel they have, in me, someone who can work with their vision and build a palette. My approach is just to sit down and have a dialogue, see the environment, see what their needs are, and go from there.”
In addition to considering the homeowner’s wishes, Childe also incorporates the use of each room, the style and type of trim, furniture that will stay, lighting, and other variables.
As she discusses colors and choices with her clients, she leaves behind samples, and if a color looks promising, sizable swatches on the intended wall, so clients can live with it for a few days and see whether they truly like the proposed color.
Of course, we all know about a possible color consultant’s nightmare – we may even be the owners of such a scenario. So I pose the question: What if a client has, for instance, a lime green couch they love and another object that is bright orange? And they don’t want to get rid of either one, but instead, keep them in the same room?
Childe is undaunted. Is this a room that should be full of a lot of energy, she asks? Or are they seeking to tone down the energy level, yet incorporate bright orange and lime green possessions? Color wheels are already spinning in her head. “It might mean toning down a color,” she says thoughtfully, “but trust me, there’s a paint color out there that will make it work.”