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Painting Secrets: Tips & Tricks from the Nation's Favorite Painting Expert

Painting Secrets: Tips & Tricks from the Nation's Favorite Painting Expert

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Painting Secrets: Tips & Tricks from the Nation's Favorite Painting Expert

4/5 (1 peringkat)
511 pages
2 hours
Jan 6, 2004


Brian brings a bright new perspective to the principles of color, helping consumers make confident decisions. Unlike other paint books, the process of painting is emphasized. Clever "Wall Wizard" tips make painting simple and fun. For example, mix 1 gallon of warm water and 1/2 cup of fabric softener to clean brushes in 10 seconds. Decorative techniques for ragging, sponging, glazing, and using unusual tools for designer effects. Detailed coverage of tools and supplies, including varnishes, stains, and glazes.
Jan 6, 2004

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Painting Secrets - Brian Santos


chapter 1

The Magic of Color

Your home is your largest, most visible, and most expensive possession, and what color do you paint it? White! There are 16 million colors to choose from, but you wimp out and play it safe. Boring! And by the way, antique white, vanilla, and off-white are not colors.

Color is perhaps the most cost-effective and powerful tool in your decorating bag of tricks. Yet few people know the simple rules that govern this important element of design.

First understand there is absolutely no wrong color to use. Any color can be livable when the hue, value, intensity, and lighting are correct and in balance. If you want to paint a powder room purple with silver leafing and a black glaze, go for it! These color combinations used in the appropriate context, scale, and proportion can be stunning. Used inappropriately, though, they can appear garish and overwhelming.

So go ahead—experiment! If the outcome isn’t what you expected, the worst thing that can happen is you’ll have to paint the walls again—hardly an irreversible disaster. In this chapter, I’ll explain some common myths, mistakes, and misconceptions about color. You’ll learn about proven tools and techniques and be empowered with the knowledge and language of color to express your own style with skill and confidence.


Learn the simple rules that direct your design—page 10


Train your eyes to see color at work all around you—page 18


Choose the paint that’s best for your rooms—page 24


Effective design depends on the relationship of different colors in a room. Color creates a room’s personality, defines its style, sets its mood, controls its space, accents its advantages, and hides its faults. It can turn a dull space into a warm, inviting environment. Yet one color alone can’t achieve these benefits. You need a combination of colors that complement and reinforce a particular look or mood. This selection of color combinations becomes your decorating plan.

Changing the wall color and a few accessories creates three different looks in the same room.


Most people haven’t seen a color wheel since middle-school art class or high school home economics, but a Wall Wizard knows it is a handy design tool. A color wheel shows how colors relate to each other. Three relationships are of particular interest:


The most basic of color relationships, primary colors are the three pure colors found in light: red, yellow, and blue. They cannot be broken down into other colors, but when used in various combinations, they create all other colors. Primary colors are equidistant from one another on the color wheel.


The second level of colors are orange, green, and purple. Each is created from equal amounts of two primary colors. On the color wheel, each secondary color falls halfway between the two primary colors it contains and directly opposite the third primary color.


Tertiary, or third-level colors, are created by combining equal parts of a primary and its adjacent secondary color. Yellow and orange, for example, form yellow-orange.

Color levels build on each other. This means you need primary colors to form secondary colors, and both to develop tertiary colors.

The bottom color wheel presents the differences among pure colors, or hues, shown in the middle ring; shades, created by adding black, shown in the outer ring; and tints, created by adding white, shown in the inner ring.


The color wheel demystifies color relationships and helps you find colors that work well together. No hard-and-fast rules exist about which colors should be used together, but some natural combinations make successful matches. The following classic combinations are considered the basics for beginners.

Analogous colors. This set uses three colors located next to each other on the color wheel. Green, yellow-green, and yellow make an analogous arrangement. So do blue-green, blue, and blue-purple. Analogous colors are harmonious because the colors are closely related and your eyes pass over them easily.


Complementary colors. Two colors located opposite each other on the color wheel complement each other. The most common example is the red and green of Christmas. Another is blue and orange. Because a complementary plan combines exact opposites, it balances warm and cool colors. Complements stimulate one another but can seem garish if used together in full intensity.


Triad colors. Three colors, or a triad, are spaced equally in distance from each other on the color wheel. Red, blue, and yellow are a triad, for example, as is orange, green, and purple—and there are many more. Triads form complex, lively color plans, so controlling values and intensities is important.


Split complementary. This scheme combines a color plus the color on each side of its complement. Pairing yellow with blue-purple and red-purple, for example, makes a split complementary plan. The subtle shift in the complementary colors enriches the plan.

Split Complementary

A triad of primary colors—yellow, red, and blue—creates a bold color plan that moves through adjoining rooms.

The closely related colors of this room’s walls, furnishings, and accessories form an analogous plan.

Because these colors are opposite each other on the color wheel, the cool violet accents complement the warm yellows.

The following color combinations are also successful but require a little more thought, control, and balance.

Double split complementary This plan combines four colors, one from each side of two complementary colors. It is a rich color plan but difficult to bring off successfully.

Monochromatic In a monochromatic plan, one color is used in many values, intensities, and textures, so the mix stays lively and interesting. This sophisticated, aesthetic plan needs texture contrasts to work well.

Neutral This plan uses whites, grays, and black to build an elegant color palette. Some designers include browns, from cream to chocolate, in this category. The neutral plan needs value, intensity, and textural contrasts to be effective.

In most of these formulas, you need to combine a range of values and intensities to use the colors to full advantage. For instance, in the case of the classic red and green of Christmas, the red is a pure, intense hue, and the green is deeper than the pure hue, darker in value, and lower in intensity.


You don’t paint your dining room red; you paint it rouge, crimson, or scarlet. Using descriptive language for colors communicates the intricacies of their characteristics.

Mixing basic colors with one another or with white, black, or gray in varying proportions gives you thousands of options. All colors have three characteristics: hue, intensity, and value. These variations result in producing an endless range of colors.


Hue is the purest form of a color.


Intensity describes a color’s degree of purity, or saturation. Saturated colors appear more vivid to the eye. You can diminish the intensity of a color by adding either white or black to it; the color becomes paler or grayer depending on how much you add.


Value refers to the relative lightness or darkness of a color. As a color is mixed with white, gray, or black, it moves away from its pure color, becoming a tint or a shade.

A tint is a color that has been lightened by the addition of white. The more white you add, the paler the color. For example, pinks are tints of pure red. On the color wheel, tints lie inside the pure hues and move toward the center of the wheel as they get progressively lighter (page 9).

A shade is a color that has been darkened by the addition of black. The more black you add, the darker the color. Forest green is a shade of pure green. Shades lie outside the pure colors on the color wheel (page 9) and move outward as they get darker.

The vivid blue above the window combines with the pale yellow of the walls to display a classic mix of intensities.

Here the colors all come on strong, from the cabinet fronts to the walls to the border around the mirror.

A tone is a color that has been modified with gray, creating a more subtle or toned-down version of a color. Mustard is a tone of yellow.

Neutra colors are white, black, and gray, which are blends of white and black. Technically white and black are noncolors because white reflects all the colors in the full visible spectrum, and black absorbs all of them.

Working with different values of various colors in your decorating plan is more pleasing than choosing colors of the same value; it keeps colors from competing with each other. Blue and green, for instance, don’t always work well together, but a high-value pastel blue and a low-value dark green can be an effective combination.

The effect of low-value color selections, such as the peach bed ruffle, tablecloth, and pillows, is to create a quiet atmosphere, perfect for a bedroom.


A color value scale is a handy tool when mixing and matching colors. The value scale is separated into bars ranging from black at one end to white at the other, with the hue (pure color) in the middle. The shades or tints represent the relative darkness or lightness of a color (usually shown as 10 values for convenience on the scale, although the actual range of colors is continuous). The value is controlled by adding or subtracting black or white to the hue. The value scale shows the effect of adding a neutral gray (gray-dation) to the tints and shades.

Color and EMOTION

You often use color to describe emotion. You say someone is red with anger, green with envy, sad and blue, rosy with optimism—even purple with passion. Research confirms that different colors stimulate emotional and physical reactions in people. When selecting color for a room, keep in mind that each color has a psychological value. Review the following emotional correspondences and strive to make your design feel right as well as look right.


Red is warm, bold, stirring, and energetic. In its pure form it can increase heart rate and raise body temperature. Use red in rooms where activity occurs, like a family room, or where sleeping and resting is not a priority. For a deep, intense setting, use other colors sparingly in a red room. The eye is drawn to red, so it also makes an eye-catching accent color.


Yellow and orange are just as exciting as red, but they are more cheerful than bold, more bright than stimulating. Yellow and orange warm and enliven any room where they are used but work especially well to brighten dark rooms. On large surfaces they are best used in light values.


Green is the dominant color in nature. It is a pleasing, organic, fresh, calming, and restful color. It is a great color for any room where you want a relaxed and fresh atmosphere.


Blue, the color of sky and water, creates fresh, cool, and restful feelings. Blue walls can make a south- or west-facing room feel cooler. Because it recedes, blue also creates the illusion of space and distance, conjuring up emotions of haughtiness, formality, reserve, and sadness. In spite of evoking such contradictory reactions, blue is a favorite because it is easy on the eyes and the nerves, making it an excellent choice for rooms where you want to relax or sleep.


Purple is lush, regal, and passionate. It is an intense and highly emotional color, partly because it straddles the line between the warm red and cool blue. This makes it a difficult color to use in interior design, and it is usually confined to the role of an accent.


Black and white are pure contrasts and intensifiers—light and dark, yin and yang, all or nothing. Dramatic and elegant together, they lend sophistication in decor that is stylish and urban.

Color and LIGHT

Color comes to your eyes as reflected light. Change the type of light, and you will change the color. You need to control light sources, as well as the paint on a wall, to control color. Here are four types of light that affect color:

Natural light is sunlight (top photo), the purest light and the easiest on the eye. It covers the entire spectrum of light and

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  • (4/5)
    Excellent guide to house painting with many illustrations and fine color. How to repair plaster, choose colors,use a power spray. Designed for the do-it-yourselfer.