Gray, make way: Bright, bold paint colors will soon make a splash

  • Color consultant Amy Woolf at her home in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The home of Heather and Robert King, who run a color consultation business and painting company. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The home of Heather and Robert King, who run a color consultation business and painting company. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The home of Heather and Robert King, who run a color consultation business and painting company. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Amy Woolf, of Amy Woolf Color Consulting, holds a color fan deck at her home. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Alan King, of Brownlie and King Painting, paints a house in Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Alan King, of Brownlie and King Painting, paints a house in Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Paul Stevens, an employee of White Pine Painters, works on a house in Westhampton. Amy Woolf picked colors to honor the architecture in a historic farmhouse. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The home of Heather and Robert King, who run a color consultation business and painting company. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Heather King, of Heather King Design and Color Consultation, in her home in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Alan King, of Brownlie and King Painting, paints a house in Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

For the Gazette
Published: 11/22/2019 11:00:22 AM
Modified: 11/22/2019 11:00:10 AM

Whether you are a traditionalist or follow the latest trends in color and design, what, and how, you choose the paint color for your interior spaces can make a huge difference in the end result, and how you feel about your home.

Anyone who has gotten back from the paint store with their perfect color selection only to find that what they thought was gray now looks decidedly brown on their wall, knows the frustration of finding the right color.

Long before Amy Woolf of Northampton became a professional color consultant, she too had the same difficulties.

“At one point I had 13 swatches of brown paint on my wall and people thought it was an art installation,” she said with a laugh.

But after earning her accreditation as a IACC-Qualified Color Consultant/Designer with the International Association of Color Consultants, and honing her craft, Woolf has developed a very keen eye for choosing and pairing colors, and has her finger on the pulse of color trends.

Fifty shades of gray

“Right now in New England gray is in, and it has been the go to neutral for the last five years,” Woolf said.

While it is all the rage now, people initially met the idea of gray with suspicion.

“There was this notion of grey just being battleship grey, but that has definitely changed,” she said.

Today people are choosing a multitude of gray’s to grace their walls and complement their décor. The style is crisp and clean and many think it gives their home a sophisticated feel.

Wolff says there is no such thing as a totally neutral color as any color will always throw an undertone. This is what makes color selection tricky, as undertones cannot be seen on a chip.

Cool grays will have blue, purple and green undertones, while warm grays will have a yellow, red, or brown undertone to them.

“A little blue will go a long way. Pick a gray with a smidge of blue in it and it will be blue on the wall,” Woolf said.

Undertones will also pop or recess based on other colors they are near.

“Imagine a grey with a little touch of green in it, then put a red sofa up against that wall and it will push that green forward,” she said. “Make that an emerald sofa and it will suppress the green.”

To properly choose a color, Wolff says never pick a new color relative to the old color by simply holding up color chip or painting a swath of paint on the wall. Instead, lean the swatch against your sofa or view it near a window or glass slider to see how color and light will effect your selection.

Hiring a color consultant to help you tease out the perfect tones can make the job easier.

“It takes a leap of faith, but I have the predictive experience,” Woolf said.

Interior designer Heather King of Holyoke agrees and says her job is about making her clients take the plunge into change.

“It is about educating people not to be afraid to take a chance, she said. “You can always paint it over.”

Renew and transformwith paint

Regardless of color, paint can be used to bring life back to cabinetry and woodwork that is looking worse for wear.

A big fan of color herself, King still agrees that gray is hands down the go to color choice these days, but she also notes another trend in painting that is focused on practicality and sustainability.

“The trend is to re-purpose with paint instead of ripping out things like cabinets and throwing them into the landfill,” she said.

King says that she tries to zero in on what needs to change and what doesn’t.

“I have a client who has tons of cabinetry and wanted to paint rather than taking them all out,” she said. “They used to be a dark green color but now look great with a soft gray color, and for a third of the price of replacing the cabinets.”

Making it yours

One thing that both design consultants agree on is that adhering to color trends will eventually date a home; by following a trend, you may end up with something that just doesn’t work for you. So going with the colors you like may be a good solution for you.

“There is no perfect color, it is incredibly personal and what makes me feel happy could be boring or overwhelming to someone else,” Woolf said. “My number one piece of advice is don’t follow those dumb rules like ‘12 ways to pick the perfect color’ you see in magazines.”

Woolf says color choice is often based on one’s physiology and our psychological history with color.

“I had to wear a green uniform for years, after that I didn’t use green for years,” Woolf said. “People have what I like to call color allergies and there is no getting around that with some ‘12 ways to pick the perfect color’.”

Color on the horizon

Despite our individual tastes, there will always be those “in” trendy colors that change over time. Now Woolf says that bright rich colors are trending in metropolitan areas and will slowly be making their way into our area.

“The big story right now is that in five years, gray will be dated and we will be seeing things like beige paired with bright vivid intense colors.

According to Woolf, we are about to see a lot of green and blues boldly coming on the scene.

“There will be nothing shy about these colors, think bright leafy greens, rich emerald greens, and peacock green,” she said. “I think that people have really woken up to the possibilities of color.”

While the combination of grays and whites is often thought of as a quintessential New England palate, Woolf says the soon to be trending colors are actually taking us back to our roots.

During the Federal/Greek revival era, paint colors were bright shades of green, yellow, and blue, while our Victorian past boasted rich, velvety clarets, emerald, and deep, woodsy greens.

Trends come and go, what remains is the standard “everything old is new again,” at least on some level.

“I think that it is important to realize that anytime something is beautifully executed, it will always be in style,” Woolf said.




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