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Originally published Friday, March 29, 2013 at 8:00 PM

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How to pick paint colors | HomeWork

When choosing paint colors, remember that lighting has a strong influence on the way colors will appear in a room.

Special to The Seattle Times



Q. What advice can you give for choosing paint colors for my home?

A. Color should be rewarding both visually and emotionally. The right shades can make rooms appear larger or smaller and even subtle tones can add warmth or create a soothing feel. Instead of worrying about which colors are trending, utilize colors you love; colors that make you feel happy or relaxed.

To translate the language of color, it helps to understand the relationship of color with other colors and the effects of light and proportion. Think of space as planes of color – the wall, floor and ceiling – which together create a 3D visual picture.

The warm side of the color wheel includes yellows, reds and oranges. They are generally the more active colors and can dominate a space because they appear to come toward you. The cool side, which includes blues, greens and purple, are more passive and tend to retreat and create calm in a space. Darker shades of any color will play a more dominate role, as do more intense colors.

We all know Seattle can be quite gray at times. Keep that in mind as you choose your color palette. Pale yellows can bring a little sunshine to long winter days. You can find white or cream colors that actually have yellow undertones, which have a brighter, warmer look than a pure white will.

If you like bold tones, painting the dining room or even the kitchen a rich red can add a feeling of vibrancy, energy and warmth. If neutral colors are your style, use a taupe with a hint of yellow or gold to offer a bit of warmth. And if you want to use grays, combine them with a color on the warm side of the spectrum.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

• When choosing paint colors remember that lighting has a strong influence on the way colors will appear in a room.

• Think about using accent colors to support a focal point in a room, such as the fireplace in a living room.

• Using a warm or dark color at the end of a long hall will make it appear more inviting.

• Using an accent color on the ceiling in a powder room will make the ceiling in the room feel taller.

• Using a monochromatic color scheme in a small room will make it feel larger. You can add interest by varying textures of furniture, pillows, drapes and accent pieces.

• You can bring the outside in by using colors in a room that echo what you see out the window, such as trees and bushes or a garden full of brightly colored flowers. If you have a window view of tree branches, painting the window wall green can actually make the wall seem to disappear as though the room were somehow both inside and out.

• You can add flexibility to a room with neutral colors by using bold colors in accent pieces like pillows, art, throws and even fresh flowers.

Your home is an extension of your personality and your style is always evolving so don’t be afraid to experiment. After all, it’s only paint.

Wendy Albee of Albee Interior Design is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council and provided the information contained in this article. If you would like more information or have questions about home improvement send them to Sorry no personal replies. Always consult local codes and contractors.