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Wood is also COLOR!

Posted by Emily Lauderback on

When there is significant wood in a space, it greatly affects the appearance of the paint colors--especially cool colors! This is due to metamerism: colors' appearance changes in relationship to the other finishes surrounding it.

Woods are warm and can be considered as red, orange, or yellow to determine how other colors will relate best. We prefer using "cool" colors as the paint or other dominant architectural finish to give the best energetic balance with the "warmth" of the wood. If the wood appears "red," the cool color will most likely take on a "green" cast, "orange" toned wood will bring out the "blue" in the cool color, and more "yellow" woods will enhance any "purple" tones in the cool color. This is the complementary relationship in action. The complementary color pairs want to find each other! The warm and the cool complete the spectrum and raise the energetic vibration. This is the most basic principle to understanding Color Theory developed as a phenomenon of physics by Sir Isaac Newton in the 1670's.

However, this can be tricky business! Complements also enhance each other and make each other appear brighter and more vibrant. Therefore, if you choose a cool color for balance that has too much pigment, it can appear too bright and harsh! Using soft, muted cool colors work best. On their own, one may even call them "gray." But as soon as it's next to the wood, suddenly it's blue, green, or purple. Magic!

This is why we have to see the colors we're considering in isolation with the other finishes that will be present when the painting is all done. Use swatches that are a single color with no white borders for the most accurate read. We have found that 4" swatches are best because our eyes can take in the entire relationship in one shot. If the swatches are too big, our eyes are busy scanning rather than feeling the relationship. When the swatches are too small, there is not enough there to feel the influence of the colors' relationship to each other. This is why the Dwelling Palettes were developed with Benjamin Moore Paint 4" swatches. The swatches can be considered as mini models of your walls.

Also remember, if the swatches are mini models of your walls, light is the other component of metamerism. Hold the swatches vertically when you are assessing their relationship to the wood architectural finishes...unless of course, you are considering painting your floor with that color!

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