All about color and paint

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October 11, 1998|By Karol V. Menzie

Color is one of the simplest and yet most profound ways human beings have of shaping their surroundings to suit their style, taste and whim. Color can suggest a sense of history (Williamsburg blue), a sense of place (Provencal yellow), an era (mauve, the Gilded Age; turquoise, the 1950s), a discipline (minimalist white), a sport (black and orange), a gender (pink or blue). It can lift or soothe the spirits, whisper conformity or scream eccentricity. But how many of us really know how to use it? Fortunately, there are lots of sources available for help.

Dragging and ragging

Decorative paint techniques, from mixing and matching colors to faux finishes, are covered in two new books, "Country Living Country Paint," by Eleanor Levie and Rhoda Murphy (Hearst Books, 1998, $30), and "Furniture Facelifts" by Liz Wagstaff with Mark Thurgood (Chronicle Books, 1998, $19.95). The former covers dragging, ragging, antiquing, stenciling, freehand effects and murals. Example: A dragging technique with a corncob makes paneling in a 1960s-era dining room look like something from the late 17th century. The latter book covers stamps, stencils and decoupage techniques for transforming ordinary pieces of furniture into individual works of art. Examples: an inexpensive pine chest converted into a tartan showpiece, and woven rattan chairs decorated with fruit motifs.

Our favorites

Best-selling exterior paint colors in the Baltimore area, according to Sears Weatherbeater Paints:

* Base colors: Canterbury beige, white, mocha beige, cactus yellow, honey jar, pewter, Georgetown white.

* Accent colors: smoke blue, redwood, conch red, azalea leaf, regal green, molten black.

Most of these fall into the historic/classic families that remain popular in what Weatherbeater calls the "Seabreeze" region of the country, despite the rise of jewel tones such as plum berry in other areas.

Overall, a survey for Weatherbeater found, white is the most bTC popular color in this area, followed by blue, tan and brown, cream, beige, green, yellow and red.

Printer's ink

A textbook look at how professionals use color - as accent, as architecture, as sanctuary - comes from Terry Trucco's book "Color: Details and Design" (PBC International, 1998, $42.50). From the touches of nostalgic chartreuse in a Miami apartment to the whispery pales of a music room in a San Francisco designers' show house, Trucco explores a world of color schemes and the ways designers use color to create a look or a mood.

Trucco suggests that knowing when to break the rules is as important as knowing when to apply them.


Finding colors that work together is one of the trickiest parts of picking a color scheme for interior decorating. A book by artist Bonnie Rosser Krims, "The Perfect Palette" (Warner Books, 1998, $30), offers tips on training your eye, planning a whole-house scheme and buying and using paint.

She offers a series of "recipes," based on color families. One scheme in the red family is called "Pompeii" and uses a pale red, blue-green and yellow. "The Lake" scheme in the green family uses a pale green wash, violet and a pale gray-brown.


* Find out about the process of hand candle-dipping and learn to create your own candles from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Candle Making Day at Surreybrooke, a family-owned nursery and display garden at 8537 Hollow Road, Middletown. The event is free but registration is required. Call 301-371-7466.

* The Smithsonian Institution in Washington will be celebrating the food, style and culture of France this fall, starting with a seminar on the art and architecture of Louis XIV from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Subsequent events include a champagne-tasting brunch, a lecture on French interior design style, a lecture and workshop on topiary, and a session on French gardens and urban landscapes. There will be a gala benefit at the Washington Design Center. The events are part of the Smithsonian Associates programs. For more information on any of the events of "L'esprit de France," call 202-357-3030 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

* Henry Stern, park commissioner of New York City, will discuss "Remaking Public Parks" at 6 p.m. Thursday at Johns Hopkins' Evergreen House, 4545 N. Charles St. There is a reception after the lecture. Tickets are $8 for Evergreen members and $10 for nonmembers. For reservations or more information, call 410-516-0341.

Pub Date: 10/11/98

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