How your favorite photos create a palette.

I clapped, cheered, and said out loud… Now that is a cool idea!

Not an entirely new concept, just one we likely forget to consider during the uninspired shuffle in which we’re decorating or trying to come up with paint color ideas and it just has to be done, quickly.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful, if the colors in your home we’re drawn straight from a photo snapped on a memorable vacation, hike, scenic moment, the yard, or any space you love.

What a great conversation to be had if people came over and asked, how did you choose your colors?

Take a peak-

Thank you House Beautiful for making my day, thought this was a great example. Love the photo, the location, and the weathered quality of the colors pulled straight from layers of paint applied through history. Doesn’t this just get the creative folk howling, ha ha?

So I gave it a whirl…

One of my favorite photos of my little guy…

And, a photo from a heavenly little trip my husband and I took in what seemed to be tropical paradise.

My honest thoughts on this exercise? Wow, this works really well! And you develop a fond connection since the colors come from a very warm place.

Give it a try, it’s quite fun! Hope you’re inspired…


The Power of Trim Color.

I was lucky enough to help this homeowner choose new trim colors, what a lovely place? In the process we discussed; roof color (roof was replaced), the addition of copper trim, and simplification of some of the trim lines.


The client was interested in maintaining a sense of the home’s Craftsman Style, in which structures blend harmoniously with nature. After considering a few directions, we agreed on earthy greens and creams. They complemented the golden brick well, remained true to the style, yet added a fresh, contemporary touch.

We tested a variety of shades (some of the creams were too yellow, whew), until we found a combination that felt just right. Our final selections were- Benjamin Moore crownsville gray, baffin island, and georgian green.

And after a loooooooong painting, roofing, flooding (yikes), shall we call it enduring process, we have a new look!


Isn’t it amazing how trim colors can completely shift a home’s appearance? The photo washes the colors unfortunately, but my favorite part of this transformation is the entrance. It looks lighter, brighter, and happier!

The homeowner told me someone walked by and said, cool Eddie Bauer colors, ha. Thought that was funny and right on.

A new take on Stephanie’s bedroom!

A while back, Peggy and I created an online plan for her California home. It was a pleasure working with her and I was happy to see her come back with another project.

This is a fun one! Her daughter Stephanie is currently attending college and heading in an architectural direction- thumbs-up! She will be home for the summer and wanted to create a new look for her bedroom. This is a temporary dwelling so we’re looking for an easy, light, inexpensive, low-maintenance, pick-me-up.

Current bedroom-

Looks like we have a bright, happy room with pretty woodwork to build upon.

Inspiration photo-

Creative direction- “Stephanie has expressed she is wanting an urban loft feel for her bedroom. Obviously the green walls will be covered up and she wants to use the skyline pillow as her inspiration piece. She mentioned a dramatic purple or a grey (maybe for the ceiling)? I don’t want to stifle your creativity so your input is welcomed!”

So we settled on the above photo as a bit of a guide (notice the similarity in furniture/trim), love the look!

My first inclination regarding wall color was to keep it light and airy. A sophisticated light gray with a little warmth, maybe a whisper of violet in the undertone. Our winner- Benjamin Moore silver fox 2108-50, a really beautiful shade, check it out.

Then I put together a mood board to help Stephanie create the scene-

(curtain panels Ikea, bedding Target, chandelier Ikea, throw pillows Crate and Barrel/Tonic Living, sheets Target, prints theloveshop/Etsy)

Everything you see is very inexpensive! My personal favorite- the bedding… $34.99 for a king comforter this cute?

Additional suggestions- Change the dresser knobs to something elegant like glass, hang an inexpensive, chandelier type light- maybe around the dresser, layer the bedding and add throw pillows for pop, hang a dynamic gallery wall- frame a variety of prints/photos, etc… in white or silver frames.

And the look is underway! They have painted, purchased the bedding, and let me know it’s turning out well. Enjoy the new look Stephanie!

A Taupe Revolution.

My how things have changed since Color Zen came alive in 2009 :) I could barely mention the word gray without knocking the wind out of client sails.

I think we were still on Tuscan overload. Gold, red, warm neutrals. Absolutely nothing wrong with these colors, just temporarily overdosed!!

But, this season clients are interested in or at least open to a wider variety of options. Blues, greens, and grays in particular. And the neutral of choice (Are you on the edge of your seat?) is my beloved TAUPE.

We recently painted our entire living area Sherwin Williams outerbanks, which definitely falls into the category. With pops of white and chartreuse, I’m loving the look.

Here is a taste…

Why is taupe so lovable? It gives you the modern feel of gray, without the blue undertones. A mix of brown and gray, it stays warm and complements a variety of wood tones from painted white to oak to espresso. It is rich and allows artwork/decor to pop, without leaving you feeling washed out.

Here are my tried and true favorites shades, dark & light-
(Benjamin Moore) fairview taupe, kingsport gray, alexandria beige, stone hearth, indian river, brandon beige, racoon hollow, sparrow, and weimeraner.

Taupe is the new beige? Maybe something like that, ha. Cheers to a new favorite!

(thank you Design Sponge and for the photos)

Perfect Palette Inspiration: object groupings.

What makes object groupings in magazines so darn appealing? I was going to say appealing to the eye, but maybe it’s to a variety of senses

one from Architectural Digest got me good. I’ve had it stashed away in an “inspiration folder” for a few months. The color! And the graphic design, love it. Let’s see, they call this “The Scent Calendar 2011”, 12 monthly candles developed in part by fashion designers and beauty moguls- that sucks me in even more :) $650 at Maison Gerard (yes you read that correctly). Maybe in my next lifetime?

But to the point- spreads like this make GREAT color palette inspiration. So if you come across something that stops you, tear it out and tuck away. I love when clients share visuals like this. Especially if they’re not exactly sure where to begin. You can learn a lot about your own taste by these selections.

The best part? A visual can be interpreted creatively, in so many different ways. Such as…

Enjoy your favorite design magazine and let the wheels turn… Need help interpreting? Contact me anytime.

(thank you Amanda Nisbet,, House Beautiful, and for the photos)