Designer + Colour Consultant, Philippa Radon
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The 10 Commandments of Choosing Color

Selecting colours takes courage — and best done with lots of cups of tea (or bubbly). Here are the 10 things I recommend to make sure your color choices are spot on.

  1. To Each Their Own: Be authentic to yourself, as what really matters is how you respond to it. If the colour works for you, it’s right!
  2. Feel it Out: Ask yourself lots of questions about the experience you want to have within that particular space. What colours come to mind for you personally that create that feeling. That’s the best starting point and will lead you to making authentic choices.
  3. Identify Inspiration: What is the colour “driver”? That one ‘thing’ that you knew to be the engine starter, inspiration and energy instigator.  It could be in the form of fabric, tile, flowers, paper … absolutely anything! Once you’ve found it, you’ll know it.
  4. Colour Questions: Color is never seen in isolation – it is always in a relationship with something else, so the question is:  what kind of relationship do you want to have with colour? Dramatic, bold, energizing, neutral, quiet, calm, etc. Write out a list of words to best describe this for yourself.
  5. Exploration: We often imitate before we can innovate, so resource through as many areas as possible for ideas. Magazines, movie sets, art and nature…. get out there and explore.
  6. Form & Function: What is the function of the room? Is it used mostly day or nighttime? Ask yourself why you want to have that experience in order to broaden your vision and consider other contributing colour elements.
  7. Break it Down: Break colour down into manageable components considering your space like Paint by Numbers. Pair surfaces together as you build your palette (i.e. ceilings/floors). This concept helps you layer the colours while exploring the relationships between them.C2 color palette
  8. Let it Flow: Consider threading one colour throughout your entire home – one that links all of the rooms, varying from being a full on broad stroke to barely traceable. Your eye will always find it and it will help your color transition easily from room to room.
  9. Attention to Accents: All colour schemes are improved by accents, the final touches of colour that add an element of surprise, and bring rooms to life. Introduce colour accents with pillows or unique tabletop accessories – these will help tell your individual style story.
  10. Simple Surprises: Use colour in unexpected places, behind closed doors, inside cabinets, drawers and closets. All those tucked away places that provide an element of surprise once revealed. Much like having a beautiful lining inside your coat.

    C2 Al Green

    Painting the inside of your front door is a refreshing surprise.

Colors do not transition from home to home in the same way, so be mindful of using the same palette all the time. New spaces warrant new colour consideration.

I’m happy to assist with your color questions. Just add a comment in the area below.

Mapping: The Architecture of Interior Design

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”– Marcel Proust

For some reason we instinctively trust maps. They provide a sense of familiarity to the unknown and are seemingly trustworthy and reassuring that we are taking the right path…or that we ultimately know where we are heading. Today more than ever, we rely on maps to help us plan and navigate our daily lives. The GPS- enabled smartphone has become an essential part of modern existence, supporting a universal fast paced world where time is a valued commodity. Consider how chaotic and haphazard a life without direction would be, how much time would be wasted. Maps help navigate us into making better use of those precious hours and minutes. (more…)

Maps go way back. We’ve seen beautifully penned and coloured old maps where the countries are odd shapes and sizes— perhaps with no America or New Zealand because they hadn’t yet been discovered. There has always been a need to map out the world. To help us understand where we are in relation to other people or places, physically and culturally. Our sense of home is based on our mental map of the world as we know it, with us at the centre. Today, despite all the modern technology, the emotional need to know where we are and chart our everyday rituals and routine remains as meaningful as it did for those early explorers.

Part of the charm of the maps of old was their sense of history and adventure. Somehow, maps allow you to venture farther than you ever thought possible. The adventure of being original and defining our own style and sense of self needs supportive direction. In this way, mapping still revolves around the joy of discovery, about inviting your dreams into reality.

A map is your compass—in both life and design. It allows you to make note of a point of reference for your ideas and then expand them into other areas. It offers you the freedom to self-navigate, knowing that you can lose yourself in exploration, while being safe in the knowledge that you are tethered and able to find your way back to home base at any time. The same is true when you embark on your journey of discovering your personal style, and esthetic sensabilities.

Maps also remind you that there is more than one route to any destination. We’ve all heard the expression: “life is more about the journey than the destination” — and with design, that journey is one that should force you to explore new resources, or move into new arenas in an organic way. The more layered and complex the path becomes, the more options will inevitably present themselves. So trusting one’s intuition is essential when presented with a fork in the road.

“Utilizing a mapping process allows you to broaden your view and gain the confidence you need to tap into your creativity with confidence.”

 

At its simplest level, mapping allows us to take a bird’s eye view of any project.  A “you are here” starting point that offers you an overview perspective to see how a plethora of elements can be woven together to form a cohesive picture. Sometimes, I like to think of myself as a circus performer, spinning an array of plates around and around atop perilously long poles. These performers must be hyper aware of every individual plate’s speed and momentum in order to prevent everything from literally crashing to the ground. That’s how it can feel when monitoring the numerous overlapping elements of any design project, the mapping technique offers a way of staying on top of every situation and keeping those plates spinning.

Maps give us an all-important overview that helps make a project seem more manageable. Design projects often have a way of making you feel overwhelmed before you even begin, as you start to compile an infinite “to do” list. Your map also allows you to “zoom in and out” on the project as a whole. Zooming in allows us to hone in on the finer details, while zooming out allows us to examine the bigger picture at any time. It is always important to keep looking at both to foresee what lies ahead — truly one of the great benefits of mapping.

I also work specifically on colour maps as the beginning stage of colour selecting.  Colour is the starting point for me on all my projects, the discovery of the general palette and its complexities. It is a more inspiring and practical way to select and group the colors and chart their relationships allowing all the spaces to connect and flow.

“Mapping enables me to develop a design experience; it provides an overview of the spaces so that I can see how the colour threads weave between them in a mindful, orchestrated manner.”

This mapping method is a way of brainstorming and recording important details and information in a colourful and creative way. A freestyle storyboard, that is the whole picture of every thought, every idea, brainwave mental image and realization I have. Think of the all-too-common experience of having had a wonderful dream that you are certain you’ll remember — only to have every last remnant of that dream evaporate and leave you wondering how you could have lost such a memorable thought. Mapping enables you to capture those ideas in the same way you might record dreams in a journal — it keeps a record of those fleeting but often intuitive notions before they disappear into the ether.

C2 colour mapping

“Maps help to show you where you are, but a home is about developing who you are.”

I am a highly visual person, (compensates for my dyslexia!) so for me, connecting a subject with an image helps lock that idea in my memory. Sometimes on those inevitable complicated days, when it feels like nothing is working, having a map allows me to switch gears and move into another area, yet know that I am still heading in the right direction.

Mapping is a visual tool that you can expand continuously without upsetting any order of sequence that contains all the information I want in a personal, functional and artistic visual image. It’s a way to help us chart uniquely personal home stories and create decor and colour schemes that resonate with our home’s ultimate purpose and lifestyle choices.

Techniques for the Evolving Interior Designer

“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you decorate your home, how your writing looks and the way you feel.”
— Helen Bonham Carter

There are quotes that we find, or that find us, which strike a deep and resounding chord. The above is simplistic – an observation of finding beauty in the everyday around us.

As an interior designer, it serves to remind me that I don’t have to orchestrate large projects or depend on clients to be creative – that I am my own piece of working art, with a multitude of daily opportunities to be exploringly artistic. Being creative for my own purposes and development contributes so positively to my work to others. The results are not about design for design sake, but in creating environments that house and preserve experiences of everyday life.

To be self confident in design, to be able to envision, research and resource, craft and create a well tailored interior that resonates the personality of the dweller is an art form.  It is the creating of a visual map. It is the telling of a story that tells other stories – a collaboration that builds relationships based on intuitive trust between strangers with sensibilities that resonate and mesh. It is not about a designer’s prior achievements or well-styled portfolio, but instead, the recognition of a partnership – a chance to explore, journey and travel together and transform a home into something unique and beautiful.

Creating personal design stories with my clients.

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New projects demand new exploration. While the blueprint is different each time, there is a familiarity to the process that I am able to introduce to my clients. Establishing a visual guide and direction that immediately opens up the conversation to their individuality and personalization.

To me, the word “project” indicates a sense of movement that encourages me to collect myself from any disorder or holding pattern; it’s a signal to my creative resources that we will soon be called upon to contribute.  An inner energy and excitement is ignited, space cleared and prepared, tools sharpened.  The project assembly and mapping begins.

Mapping techniques provide a theoretical beginning, middle and end, that starts with placing my clients and I together at the “You are Here” point.  It’s the embarking of a road trip.

These techniques allow us to zoom in and out, with a bird’s eye view, of the terrain we will traverse.  This introduces my clients to a new approach, a new way of designing their home and developing their own sense of style with a greater confidence, appreciation and understanding of the design process. Developing a visual story is a balancing act, a collaborative art that helps achieve successful interiors.  After all, is that not what we are all striving for?  A nostalgic collective of timeless beauty, comfort, functionality and longevity? A surrounding that nurtures us, frames memories and marks time?

My role as a designer is ever changing. Though technically, “design” (purpose, planning or intention behind an action or material object) still defines my role, my approach has developed into something deeper and more meaningful.  For so many, the value of home life is lost in the hubbub, flurry, trends and speed of daily life. My approach, allows us to redefine what matters most as we layer and mix the relationships of our lifestyle choices, interests and style. It is all so intertwined.  Where else is there but within our homes to harness the opportunity to build our personal portfolio, that encompasses everything for each of us uniquely.

Like so many industries today, everything under the design umbrella has been affected by technological advancement, product exposure and of course, social media, at a pace I cannot pretend to conquer.  Though essential and beneficial, I am graced in that my world remains tactile and intimate…and in the knowing our responses are most honest when through direct visual contact, feel and fragrance.

I have entered hundreds of homes over the years, (I really should have counted!) of every shape, size, style, age and continent. I absolutely love the rush of that first introduction, the roaming through someone else’s rooms and observing, ingesting everything I possibly can.

Our homes represent so much about us; they are an insight into our minds, personality, order, energy and passions.  In an age where we live with such reconstruction and adaptation to new social and economic conditions, the need to feel our homes are authentic and true to our own nature and sensibilities, is paramount to our sense of well being and stability. I want to create homes that entice you to stay home more, enjoying the creature comforts and beauty of your surroundings. Mature and evolve as your own life does naturally, seasonally.

The accumulation of my design experience, trained eye and intuitive nature complimented by practiced studies, such as Vastu Shastra, Hygge living and Aromatherapy contribute in creating interiors that are carefully curated and tailored on many levels. The rewards and gratification support the belief and knowledge that our happiness is genuinely affected by our surroundings. There is a strong golden thread and building of all these relationships for our wellbeing.  It is a permanent practice for me, not an occasional exercise, but a way of life.

A “Hygge” (pronounced hue-guh) approach to living is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling of making your environment cozy, charming and special.

I am inspired by colour; it is my medium.  The starting point for almost everything.

“The whole nature of colour is deeply personal and subjective – but never private.”

Be it from paint, textiles, flora or art  – these are the necessary vehicles that convey and transport the world of colour and design for me. Colour is a living organism that grows and molds and shapes.  Colour is the daily mystery that I swim in.  It provides a renewed approach to my everyday living, everyday.

As I tackle new adventures in the upcoming year, I plan to devote more time to considering the why, what and how, to test my own techniques and continue to evolve as a designer.

I have the unique opportunity to use my own home reconstruction project as inspiration to test new design techniques so that I can help others create spaces they love to live in.

Though I have lived in and transformed many homes, my current (rather dilapidated) 1890s farmhouse home in Eden, WNY is a true test to all my skills as it slowly transforms into something that is essentially, authentically me.

Nature provides a constant source of inspiration.

Please join my on my design journey on Instagram @philipparadon.

 

The Journey Back to Black: The Nuances of Dark Walls

There is something undeniably glamorous about a minimalist stance — the balancing act of reduction; the idea of “less is more”. But to eclipse color and blanket everything with black holds a magic of its own.   Currently, I am experiencing a great sense of relief and freedom with this intentional choice and, for the first time, refusing to get caught up in the drama and complexity that comes with layering color and forming harmonious, complimentary color palettes. As much as I love, adore and appreciate color — and its walk before me every minute of my day — there is something  currently refreshing and appealing in the choice to remove it all and surround myself with black, and the many discovering shades thereof. I see that I have always underestimated the value of black as an exclusive choice, perhaps fearing that this strikingly dramatic solo player might possibly overplay its hand.

Experimenting with varying shades of black.

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For me, black has always played the supporting role in a production. Though a valued and highly regarded team player in my cast of colour, it was never center stage. However, while walking this path of new discovery (also partly inspired by the purchase of my new home that begs for the unusual), I realise that black needs no partners; it has a mysterious and secretive world all of its own. It contains and absorbs all colour.

This black gloss powder room delivers the drama.


Many of you stand alone in the darkness, with the self-bravery and courage to venture out into this world.  For me, I am faced with my memory and fear of dark lake waters and being told to ‘jump in’. They say the dark waters represent the unconscious mind and your fullest potential, which especially at a young age are unknown and intimidating.
I’m inspired by the “dark side” of my friend, London-based stylist, retailer and designer Abigail Ahern  a who embraces the dark colors and adventurous interiors.

Ahern’s signature colour palette is an array of intoxicating, dark, inky “bottom of the lake” hues.


As I open myself up to black in its quiet, reflective solitude, I am learning to focus on its nurturing qualities – the richness of good soil, the lone flight of a raven across a grey misted winter sky, the surface of a long road that supports me each day in travel.

In my design, black supports and almost demands a lack of clutter and the introduction of furnishings and art that allows these pieces to shine bright like stars in the darkness.

And, I confess to going to personal extremes in my new-found respect of black by eliminating the flavoured creamers in my coffee that lined the refrigerator door. I am now a coffee-drinking purist with no ten word order for my morning java.

Black paint is like the color of my coffee


Taking my new affinity toward black personally by removing the creamer from my coffee!


Today, there are so many variations of the standard black-black that instead of feeling mired in the darkness, they highlight the subtle undertones: bruised blue-black, deep amazon green-blacks, black with a warm red or umber influence that looks like dark roasted coffee beans — all rich and intoxicating. 

C2’s line of “near blacks” represents a full range of the dark side with colors like Aperture, Stout and Baritone. The saturation of C2’s finely ground pigments provides a “black” with undertones of dark greens and blues that have much higher resolution and an intense depth.

black paint with white is a classic combination


The eternal classic pairing of black and white (featured: C2’s Aperture + Architectural White)


Embracing black is a process that I welcome and embrace, even knowing the challenges it poses. On a recent design collaboration for a public Buffalo Showhouse event, I used my new ally partnered simply with white. The classic combination was chic, classic and sophisticated. I partnered with Traci Ackerman of Red Disc Design and created a schematic around her Burchfield Penney wallpaper launch with the ‘Flowers at Night’ wallpaper.
wallpaper painted with black paint


With the historic 1921 design by Burchfield Penney we selected a contemporary C2 color palette of esoteric midnight black – Aperture, with a calibrated measure of Seraph – a soft blue grey tucked into window niches and the hallway.


The black and white schematic navigated me into a more minimalist aesthetic, which, given that I have moved home four times in the past 19 months, definitely has its pluses. Everything becomes so punctuated against a dark background — and needs careful curation. It is a more definite and orchestrated production in furnishing the space with a need to view and understand all the nuances and subtleties of light, texture and the combinations of finishes.  The identity of the space becomes a place for self reflection and peace for me.
How long this will last? I have no idea. The beauty of our homes is that they allow us to create a refuge that represents that particular chapter of our lives, and can change just as easily with the ebb and flow of time.For now, I’m enjoying and embracing “the dark side” for now, and all the teachings that came with this new direction.