Add rich character with affordable color
Carole Sloan -- Casual Living, June 1, 2008
Envision a brilliant shade of orange ... rich in character and depth, somewhere between a spicy paprika and an early morning sunrise. You know the color. You see it in all the hottest new interior design trends. Today’s top designers — and savvy homeowners — are using it to accent and accessorize nearly every room of the house. What you may not know is that it isn’t exactly new. Here, at Williamsburg, we call it Tucker Cupboard Orange and it is yet another example of how 18th-century design influences what we see and do today.
In the 18th century, the inside of the china cupboards were often painted a bright color to draw attention to the expensive dinnerware inside. While it is uncommon to see this in a private home, it is often used in a retail setting. Just as 18th-century Americans used bold, brilliant colors to show off fancy woodwork or expensive accessories, savvy retailers know when it come to displays, color is everything.
The amount of research that goes into color trending is astonishing. The fact that there are people whose career lies in forecasting next year’s “it” colors is an indicator of the important role color plays in every aspect of our lives. It can change our mood, make us rearrange our house and inspire us to purchase something that we normally wouldn’t dream of. So here’s what we know — color trends change regularly and retail locations are expected to keep up with the trends.
How then, in a receding economy, does a retailer use this valuable tool to impact sales without enlisting a major store overhaul every season? Anyone who has been following the trends knows we have finally moved out of the era of neutrals. Color is in. From bright, bold primary colors to soft, sweet pastels — retail environments are just popping with the colors of the season. Painting a space is the natural choice but not many retailers want to take the risk of painting a whole store or even one whole side of the store in a trend-bending color. The “floating wall” is, of course, a terrific way to divide your space into vignettes and is also incredibly easy to paint providing a colorful backdrop to your goods. A small freestanding wall can be easily re-purposed and repainted in a few hours to provide an easy, fresh new look. With a small wall you are much more likely to take some chances with the color knowing that it can be repainted with minimal effort. Trying to visualize how the muted tone of your outdoor furniture is going to make sense against a pacific blue wall? Accessorizing is the answer. All you need is some coordinating pieces of a similar color and you have the makings of a visually interesting vignette. One color can be very dramatic and impactful but if you want to combine a few colors to make your statement, enlist the “rule of three’s.”
A good rule of thumb, the “rule of three’s” guides us to pick one main color (the color in a rug or a large piece of furniture), one coordinating color (a lighter shade in the same tone or a complementary color found in a chair) and one accent color (a brighter, attention-getting color for the floating wall and accessories). The goal is to create a space that will allow your customers to dream.
I’m not one that gets persuaded by every trend that hits the pipeline. I do believe, however, that using color as a guide can aide a retailer in making decisions that will establish a sense of decorative authority instilling confidence in the customer. I know how much I am influenced by color. Just today, for the first day in a while, the sun popped out making all that’s in bloom in Williamsburg electrifyingly green. I was instantly aware of a lift in my mood and a spring in my step (almost made me want to go shopping!). And, by the way, that vibrant green color … it’s really hot right now, too.