Designer tip: Ellen Kennon on picking perfect paint colors

A soft yellow color can brighten up a large, open room. Photo courtesy Ellen Kennon.

Anyone who has ever decorated a room can recall the scene—plastic mats all over the floor, paint color booklets splayed like playing cards, and streaks of samples lined up side by side, each one almost identical to the next. But deciding what color to paint a room can have lasting implications. How will the space generally be used, for example? Is the space intended to be soothing or stimulating? What kind of colors is the homeowner naturally drawn to?

St. Francisville-based interior designer Ellen Kennon takes all these questions into account when choosing color schemes for her own projects, careful to note the effects of color not just on a room, but on the people inside it.

“Because green is the most dominant color of the earth,” she says, “I tend us use it often—especially on woodwork, because it grounds the space and pulls your eye out toward the view, connecting you with your surrounding environment.”

In other cases, any cool, light color can have similar implications. These are “mental” colors, says Kennon, because they tend to inspire introspection. Warm colors, on the other hand, are “physical” colors, since they tend to inspire more extroversion and energy.

“Light pastels refresh and soothe. Darker colors envelop,” says Kennon. “Pale yellows and sandy beiges, balanced with soft, atmospheric blues or sea foam water colors, evoke feelings of being at the beach. Turquoises both soothe and refresh. Light sky blues cloak the atmosphere in peace.”

To learn more about Kennon and her projects, visit ellenkennon.com.

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