From home to haven |

From home to haven

Architectural color consultant Rachel Noble helped clients determine their colors for this space.
Submitted by Rachel Noble |

The hardest part of painting, by far, is choosing a color. So many options and so many different factors to consider. Turns out, there’s a whole philosophy and profession dedicated to deciding on the right colors – architectural color consultation.

A rapidly growing service, color consultants work on homes and businesses, helping owners create a desired atmosphere.

“Color affects us both physiologically and psychologically,” Rachel Noble of Sundance Colors in Grass Valley, said. “When you create an atmosphere, you do it with color.”

Surprisingly, Noble doesn’t make suggestions. Rather than coming in with a set scheme or palette, she guides clients toward finding the right look and feel of a room, noting that everyone has the innate ability to recognize when a space works. They don’t know how or why, it just simply does.

She starts the process by going into a home and discussing what the client doesn’t like. “Everyone knows what they don’t want,” she said.

She then takes a myriad of elements into consideration, having clients fill out a questionnaire and walking through the home with them, getting a personal feel from their décor, artwork, the way they dress, lifestyle, and any recent or upcoming life changes.

Then there are the colors that are already in place — countertops, flooring, and furniture and how those hues and undertones will harmonize with what is chosen for the walls. Harmony is key in architectural color.

“Color will look differently in different spaces,” Noble said. “It’s not static. It’s always in relation to something else. It’s never in isolation, even neutral colors.”

Aside from the endless selection of colors and marketing push from paint companies and the home improvement industry, Noble says one common mistake is that people often choose a color, rather than atmosphere. A person may love red, but once it’s on the wall, it’s overwhelming.

Noble says that while Americans have about 100,000 color choices, only about 15 percent of a fan deck (a comprehensive collection of coordinating palettes) gets used on a regular basis — adding to the unnecessary confusion and frustration.

By the initial meeting, she can generally get a sense of what people are attracted to, as far as strong colors or muted tones, color tolerance, warm versus cool palette, phase of life, and hue preferences. Once the colors and other variables are identified, people realize they’re no longer choosing from 5,000 colors.

Those who have been guided by Noble have been nothing short of thrilled.

“I’ve been attracted to old world (style), but she helped me understand how it would work, specifically with the lighting,” said Sally Herring, who met Noble at Knight’s Paint. “She’s really enforced my decision and opened me up to things I wouldn’t necessarily have brought in, and done in an appropriate way.”

The two are working together to successfully create the environment Herring had her heart set on, finding the balance of new tile with the hues of a reclaimed barn-wood door and the use of a fallen oak tree. Noble points out that each type of wood is different and influences the color around it.

While certain rooms may be prone to specific colors, it still comes back to atmosphere. A living room tends to be warmer, perhaps promoting conversation, while bathrooms are more serene, calming, and meditative.

Each space has its own individual purpose. Noble notes that a hotel lobby may be warm and welcoming, while a bank may be imposing, instilling security and strength.

Both have different goals and intended psychological effects.

The choice of color for the exterior is just as important as the interior. Different, but equally important things to consider include the architecture; the neighborhood; the color of earth (including rock, pavement, grass, and types of trees); home at first sight (down a tree-lined driveway, free-standing from afar); material of the home; and color and style of vegetation and landscaping.

Ultimately it always comes down to narrowing down the possibilities — from dislikes to surroundings.

“I don’t choose color. I suggest, and they know what they want. It’s more finding that part in you,” she said.

Noble does in-store consultations at Knight’s Paint in Grass Valley, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday.

She can also be contacted through her website, She will be giving a presentation from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at Knight’s Paint. Cost is $10.

Katrina Paz is a freelance writer in Grass Valley.

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