Benny’s Tacos: A Color Story

Benny’s Tacos: A Color Story

WEBkSome stories have happy endings…like this lovely outside patio at the new Benny’s Tacos in Santa Monica, CA. But let us start at the beginning of our color story.

Once upon a time, there was a rather unfortunate-looking building in a prime location on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica.

web2It was actually a great, solid little building, but the colors inside and out just did not make it special-looking.

web1The building came up for sale, and Benny, the owner of Benny’s Tacos decided to purchase it, and open a Santa Monica location of his popular “Benny’s Tacos and Chicken Rotisserie” already located in Westchester/West Los Angeles. He asked me to provide some consultation on interior and exterior paint colors.

web3As construction got underway, a number of samples were painted up inside. Benny was interested in greens, and I thought warm earthy hues such as Dunn Edwards DE5340 “Wheat Bread” would work well for a neighborhood eatery that was sure to become popular with the locals quickly.

WEBgBecause the building was set somewhat back from the street, and could be dwarfed by a large structure to one side, it needed a strong, exterior body color, as opposed to the off-white it had been painted before.

WEBfBenny found the amazing Dunne Edwards hue, “Gothic Revival Green” (DET 507), from the beautiful “Then, Now and Forever” collection. Warm and rich, it evokes the green of avocados and guacamole!

WEBhA deeper color that could be used as a unifying factor on all of the trim both inside and outside, offsetting the body colors was key.  From several deep grays  Sherwin Williams “Iron Gate”, SW2926 was chosen.

WEBlA bucolic exterior setting was created, enhanced by  bright blooms,  dark shutters and the ever-present Southern California sunshine.

WEBjThe large windows and outdoor dining create a seamless continuity from inside to outside.

WEBaOn the inside,  Gothic Revival Green (DET 507) the exterior body color, was painted below the chair rails, its strong hue lending a sense of stability and solidity to the foundation.

WEBc The softer, lighter DE5340 “Wheat Bread” was painted above, creating  a sense of light, height and spaciousness to a relatively small room.

WEBbReflecting the exterior,  “Iron Gate”, SW2926  graces the Dado rail, and the interior trim details including windows and door frames.

WEBdThis was a demanding project for Benny, and I was happy to be among the color voices he asked to chime in on the scheme. The result is beautiful, and the building is completely transformed, both inside and out.

Thank you Benny/Benny’s Tacos, for the opportunity to be part of this story. It is just beginning, happily for Santa Monica!’

Buen Apetito!

 

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Contemplating Color – Three Year Round Up

Contemplating Color – Three Year Round Up

In the spirit of the process of the necessity of the…well…updating, overhauling, revamping, refurbishing, and just re-ing the online presence of the ArtiFactory Studio, and Artissima ventures…and, about to add/subtract/move around work from my site, I thought I would share some of the color design work completed since my last site update…er, 2010…and spend a few happy moments contemplating color, and its magic.

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This Berkeley bungalow went from nondescript drab to warm and inviting, all due to a color shift. The owners were really ready for this, but finding the right colors which worked on the structure, integrated into the neighborhood, and didn’t get washed out by the strong sunlight, took awhile to find.

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The welcoming red door reflects the red in the plant, contrasting just enough from house body color to  become an accent. To me, this combo looks “good enough to eat”, and fits with the intimate and accessible bungalow style.

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The new colors, a chocolatey brown framed in cream, completely transformed the garage and made it clean, attractive and integrated. Color can do that.

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This modern condo building  graces the urban landscape in San Francisco’s Twin Peaks neighborhood. It’s quasi-industrial style called for a streamlined color scheme that made the most of its details: a wall of windows, large garage door, metal house numbers, and a  bright wood front entry door. Though urban, green trees flank the building.

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The green-gray body color is set off by a darker green-gray hue on the garage door and trim, which grounds the building. The many window sashes are called out by a deep burgundy red, relating to the bright entry. The palette emerges industrial yet elegant.

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The story of this quaint cottage-like house extends back through two paint jobs! The owners were not happy with colors original to the home when they purchased it, nor with a new palette designed by another consultant. They decided to keep the strong purple and green trim and accent colors, but tone them down with a deeper body hue which would tie to them, and thus minimize their visual impact. Red plantings in the window boxes add a splash of accent color that animates the scheme.

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The lower part of the house is painted in a stronger (more heavily tinted) concentration of the body color,  making it appear darker and more solid. This feeling of solidity makes the viewer feel reassured that this foundation can support the upper part of the house. The quiet field color makes an effective foil for the accent colors, plantings, foliage, and beautiful trees which grace the property.

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San Francisco is famous for its Victorian-style homes, and their multitude of decorative architectural details, can make designing a color palette both challenging and fun, to say nothing of gratifying.  The owners of this Victorian wanted an integrated scheme that highlighted its details and design, but in more subtle and retrained manner then some of the nearby “Painted Ladies“!

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Thus we chose paint “specs” (specifications, IE, the paint colors) within one color spectrum, including the pale trim, which, with its greenish undertone, related to the rest of the colors. The front and service doors, window sashes, undersides of the overhangs, and architectural details were painted in a total of seven colors.

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The front door, service door (shown above) and garage doors were each painted in a different, yet related hue. The colors range from the creamy trim, to the deep bronze-hued front door, and ornaments painted in metallic bronze. A great deal of effort, but worth it!

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This apartment building , called  ARIA, is in Canoga Park, in the San Fernando Valley Area of Los Angeles. The color scheme ideas, in coordination with the builders, operations manager and director of capitol improvements involved, ranged from brick and black colors, to earthy browns, ochers, greens and roses. Quite a process. Out of all this emerged an inviting palette which accentuated the clean lines of the building, and played a bit with its details, doors and balconies.

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The service door is painted in a more intense version of the balcony color.

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The inner courtyard serves a a central “boulevard” for the residents.

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The bright doors, and brown accents identify important areas, and assist in path finding.

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The devil is in the details!  Residents personalize their spaces.  Some like skulls, apparently.

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The play of light on the painted surface affects the way we see the colors. Warm light will make the color appear to be just that.

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The building on the other end of the block, SONATA, is a different style, but  color design of the two buildings, including their interior courtyards, was done as one integrated job.

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Using the same color on the exterior balconies on both buildings serves as a sort of “color connective” tissue.

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A “tri-play” of color: foundation, body and accents hues, set off by the white trim color..

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The green-toned hue on the stucco foundation of the building grounds it, as discussed above, and ties it to the surrounding plantings.

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Sonata’s inner courtyard. As I understand it, plants will be added. Awnings add a homey touch.

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My favorite image from the project- the back of SONATA. The muted colors on stucco, and the stairway,  railings, and balcony remind me of time spent as a student in Southern France.

Who knew?

Give me your color weary, your peeling paint, your faded siding and scuffed up stucco!  It is my pleasure, my joy, my challenge and my calling  to recreate your architectural color to as near perfection as I can and give new life to your buildings, your spaces, your environment, and maybe even your soul!

Color on…Cheers!

Color: A Balancing Act 3

Color: A Balancing Act 3

 Between Unity and Complexity: Achieving Balance

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As discussed in previous posts, color balance in our environments can have a profound effect on our health and well-being. The “emotional loading of a space” in architectural psychology terminology, is the emotion we feel when we perceive color in a space. Perception happens in the brain, and is a process. What we perceive, as regards to color, and thus the resulting emotion, may be influenced by many factors, such as the size and shape of the space we are in, the interplay of the colors that are there, our state of mind, and, of course, the light. I would go so far as to include pattern and texture, weather (affecting the natural light which may be entering  and thus informing the space), cultural associations with the colors used, and our own personal associations with them.

So complex! But also, so much fun. Evocative. Provocative.

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Unity and complexity are two opposite poles, unity related to parts fitting into a coherent whole, and complexity involving variation.  Both are important.  Too much unity, and we can experience monotony and sensory deprivation, in a word, under-stimulation. Symptoms can manifest such as irritation, restlessness, difficulty in concentrating, and interestingly, excessive emotional response.  Why? As I understand it, because  we do not have enough to capture our attention, indeed, perhaps to distract us from our emotions, or to direct them.  As color consultant Helen Gurura says, “People expect all their senses to be moderately stimulated at all times.”  What is the key here? The word “moderately”.  As the saying goes…“All things in moderation…even-  moderation!”

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On the other end of the spectrum, we have complexity, which in the extreme, can lead to over-stimulation. and increase muscular tension, pulse rate and blood pressure. Hmmm…not good. Too much saturated color, brightness and pattern demand  attention both voluntary and involuntary. This can mess with our capacity to concentrate visually and thus interfere with tasks that require this, resulting in among other things, lowered productivity.

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Thus we see that both over and under-stimulation can impair our concentration..one by not giving us enough to focus on, the other by giving us too much.  In both cases we get distracted…by having not enough to see, or by being inundated by too much visual stimuli!

Our goal is balance, the balance between these two extremes, and apparently our minds, bodies, and perhaps our souls and spirits too, crave it.

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Let’s see how balance, or, “the securing of unity in the midst of variety”,  is achieved in the following spaces, visual environments, and color schemes.  We are all human, and require certain things to stay alive, and to thrive.  However our personal tastes, needs and requirements may differ, based on our genetic make-up, backgrounds, psychology, and cultural influences.  There is no one-size fits all for design. Most of us know this from experience. We may need to “play around’, to discover what fits, or “works for”  us best at any given moment, knowing that this may very well change over time!

1st_aThe inhabitant of this sleek urban space wanted a minimum of color. Warm wood, and neutrals punctuated by crisply framed black and white photographs gave her what she wanted, and saved her from the dangers of monotony, sensory deprivation, and under-stimulation. A favorite painting adds a tiny pop of color, and a variety of materials and light-reflective sheens add visual interest without bringing too much complexity into the space.

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bernalRed plays a starring role in this open plan kitchen/living room, adding strength to both spaces in the accent wall below the bar. The warmth of red, wood and rug is offset by the  white trim, and cool metal of the bar stools. Red is often used as an appetite-stimulating color in dining spaces. Here it is kept to an accent, so as not to overwhelm the space and our senses.

lomThis bedroom is in a condo that serves as an “urban getaway for its owners, who wanted a space both warm and restful for their city place, and  high on the “unity” end of the color balance spectrum.  Use of creams, ochres, and warm woods achieve this, while the painting brings in some drama and contrast (IE variety and thus complexity), while staying within the chosen color scheme.

soulAnother use of red as accent, doors are a popular surface for red hues. (Why? Check out this Houzz article on the subject!). The red door of Soulful Pilates Studio in San Francisco (painted red on both sides) ushers students and practitioners into a serene, yet energetic space. Like the bedroom above, warm, creamy ochres are used, but the palette is enlivened by colorful mats, and equipment sporting a variety of textures. The red, intense by contrast, adds complexity by creating a focal point expressing the idea of passing from the outside world to the internal realm, both mentally and physically. A multitude of windows add more visual interest, and plenty of light to the space during the day, as well as framing street “scenes”. Below, the purple mat provides pleasing and complimentary contrast to the golden walls.

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spear_eCream, red and strong pattern are used to great effect in this Parisian-inspired living/dining area,  another example of an urban “get-away” for the owners. Detail, but a minimum of artwork was added to the walls to break them up visually, and our eye is drawn down the “walkway” to the brilliantly colored and patterned curtains at the end of the corridor. The hue on the wall matches the cream in the curtains, reducing visual complexity through a limited color scheme, and the smooth, polished wooden floors warm and ground the animated, yet elegant space.  The heavy, dark painting is offset by playful patterns, streamlined ornamentation, and  an illusion, of retrained opulence. Comme que c’est tres-francais!

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There are many ways to visually balance an environment, and the approach may be different for each person.  You may try changing paint colors, adding or subtracting pattern and texture,  curating works of art, decorative items or textiles, rearranging furniture, or even changing your floor surface…with a rug, a coat of paint, or just a bit of “spit and polish”.

I hope this series of posts on Color: A Balancing Act has offered some insight into how to better live and thrive in your environment, and have more fun in it too.  Color, like most things worth investigating, is a life-time study.  Mysterious,energetic, scientific, emotional and physical…it truly seems to weave its own magic, and power.

May You use it well!

Color: A Balancing Act

Color: A Balancing Act

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We have all had the experience of sensory overload..as well as sensory deprivation.  We may experience overload when entering an environment filled with loud sounds, bright colors, an array of patterns,  and a variety of textures…to say nothing of what we may be sniffing, tasting or touching there.

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We may experience sense of deprivation when a space is too quiet, neutral, bland, uninteresting, and feels just plain boring.  We know something is “wrong”, but we may not be able to put our finger on it, literally speaking, especially if there is a dearth of textures, colors, patterns, and other visual stimuli.

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Although our tolerance for visual complexity and variety, as well as unity and coherency varies from person to person, we do expect, and maybe even need, our senses to be stimulated to some extent at all times. Perhaps we are experiencing this through dreams while we are sleeping!

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Not surprisingly, even our health and physical well-being can be affected by exposure to over or under-stimulation. Extreme unity, or monotony, can result in restlessness, irritation, a lowered ability to concentrate, wandering attention, and an overly strong emotional response.  Extreme complexity/variety can result in higher blood pressure, pulse rate, and muscle tension.  Not a good thing, as we can probably all agree.

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Knowing this, our job as color consultants/designers becomes charged with even greater purpose and meaning…how to create environments of balance (which doesn’t mean symmetry or the sum of equal parts, which might become monotonous), which support both our physical and our emotional well-being, as well as the function of the spaces themselves, and even our life’s purpose!

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Before we get either too lofty, or too weighty about all this, lets look at some color designs and palettes that achieve balance in a variety of different ways. I hope to continue to investigate, explore and disseminate the subject of color balance in further posts. Have fun!

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A nearly monochrome palette relieved by creamy white trim can be stately and restful, especially when enlivened by a multitude of decorative detail.

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Even a deep, rich, dominating hue such as a  burgundy purple can be set off by accents of an even deeper value. The dramatic shift to white in the trim frames a building that the owner wanted to simplify and streamline, while still acknowledging  its details.

B4A slight amplification in field color from the original,

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 makes this building more satisfying to look at, as it is more “complex”(contains more color) . The addition of a dark accent color on the window sashes, and a more intense door color add variety, which also increases complexity, and protects against visual monotony.

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The temptation to “go color crazy” on this magnificent Queen Anne Victorian could have created so much complexity, that our attention may have been distracted from actually seeing and enjoying its beautiful period details, such as the shift in shingle pattern, decorative insets, and dentils.

clay_cInstead, by limiting the colors to a set of resonant neutrals (field color, field color 200% formula and off white trim color), and adding accents in earthy hues of complimentary sage green and brick-red with just a touch of gold leaf,

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we are not so overstimulated by too much variety, and can actually take in and enjoy the details, colors and shapes that integrate to create a unified whole.

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The complex but neutral beige body color, and white trim are punctuated by a rich red service door, a singular detail on this building, which has very little embellishment, or even trim.

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As the owner wanted to reduce the possibility of visual complexity, subtle interest is brought in by the use of a slightly darker and more intense foundation color, which grounds and visually supports the structure. Thus both over and under-stimulation are avoided, and we experience enough visual simulation to provide a pleasing experience physically and emotionally.

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The size, style,, “stateliness” and foliage around a structure can influence color design choices, as well as how much its body is broken up  by its trim. Here the deep blue-green color of the house body is significantly relieved by the crisp white trim and garage door, as well as bright green foliage, which becomes a color accent or counterpoint to the dominating blue and white. As the building reads  tall and thin, our eye is drawn upward to the sky, which completes the picture. Not seen here is the warm brown accent color used on the planters in both the entry way and back patio, which provide  contrast to the blue and green, and complete the triad of blue, green and brown “nature’ colors.

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A unified palette can make a building stand out…even if it doesn’t contain an extreme shift in accent color. Our richly hued “old  burgundy” beauty commands the street view here.  All  the more regal for being contained and restrained in color variety, the palette is retrained yet fun, making a statement without overwhelming our senses. The building itself serves as an accent for a block dominated by pale, nondescript and rather unimaginative hues.  Maybe, stimulated, but not overstimulated by our royal example, the neighbors will be inspired to follow suite and add more local color!

If You are feeling either over, or under-stimulated in your environment, try experimenting with adding or subtracting color, pattern, texture,  changing the value (light to dark), or intensity/saturation (brightness) of the colors, changing your accent color to the compliment of the dominant color in the space, or if there is no dominant color, creating one.

You may just find yourself feeling better on all fronts!

Until next time…wishing you balance, variation, complexity, unity and coherence in your Life!

Standing our Color Ground I

Standing our Color Ground I

Having completed a rather large and multifaceted color consultation for a set of two buildings anchoring opposite corners of a block in the “The Valley”, I decided to disseminate the experience, and its results through a series of blog posts.

Decorative Painting and Color can be all about sumptuousness…but it can also be about streamlining, revealing the lines, and getting down to the bones.

Taking a cue from marketing guru Seth Godin, and his concise, pith, and enormously popular blog, (called, pithily enough, “Seth’s Blog“), I am going to make these posts short, succinct, and see if I can let the images do the talking. (Well, Seth doesn’t use many images, but he is a model of succinctness, and easy to read and take in.

As I explore, express and evaluate this consultation over the course of several posts…there will be the time to contrast the colors that were to the colors that became, look at details, and compare the two buildings, one on either end of a median-sized block in Canoga Park, a district in the San Fernando Valley, about 25 miles northwest of Downtown LA.

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The entry of  the building called “ARIA”…made smoother and sleeker with addition of glass, a dark, grounding foundation, and lights that ass a bit of character. Notice the integration of the brown color in the tree branches which reach out to “touch” the building, with the brown of the foundation color. not the same, but related.

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“ARIA” en totale….pops of color in the bump-outs, or balconies, both accent and tie together the sandy body or field color, and the chocolatey “grounding”  foundation color. The door is painted in a 200% formula of the balcony color,  (meaning that the amount of tint added to create the paint color is doubled, increasing the intensity of the resulting hue.)

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Streamlined greenery provides another accent hue…even more so in complementary contrast to the red in the balcony color.

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The foundation color on the balconies, and strong door color add livable accent and interest to ARIA’s inner courtyard.   If the red-toned color on the exterior balconies was carried to all of the inner balconies here, it would have been too much: over-stimulating, and underwhelming. Instead, the doors punctuate the long walls, and reflect light from their semi-gloss surfaces.  The concrete floor is deeper, with a grey cast, making it easier on the eyes then a brighter hue.

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The contrast in colors, and the textures of the smooth, semi-gloss surfaces of the doors, and the flat sheen, rough texture of the stucco walls create a pleasing visual tension.  The proper amount of tension, paradoxically creates balance…though not necessarily symmetry.

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The sun’s white light transforms how we perceive the painted color, making it appear warm and earthy,

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as opposed to cooler and grayer when not in direct sunlight.  The window profiles are painted in 200% formula of the field color, bumping it up just slightly, adding interest without visual clutter.  The metal color of the sconces is reflected in the railings and other ironwork.

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Each resident adds their personal touch…above we have a grouping of three black “sculls’…and they fit right in!

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“Windowscape”?  “Curated” grouping?  Just plain fun?  Halloween leftovers?

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Portrait of a side door….resplendent  in its Rosewood hue, framed by the Teabag– colored foundation, flanked by Weathered Brown-painted iron railings, and shining below a 100%  Hickory house body color.

Next up…a romp through the “perfect palette” of ARIA’s sister property, SONATA…a very different building situated at the other end of the block.  Their color schemes are interrelated, but not the same…because no two buildings are the same.  Even if they claim the same blueprint parents, the  way a building sits on the earth, the way its surface reflects the light, the effect of its surroundings, whether they be flat or foliage, profoundly affects the color we see.  It  is an endlessly fascinating subject, and study

Well Seth, I am not sure if I truly stayed simple…but I h  expressed my passion for color, architecture, design, and the human spirit’s quest for beauty, joy, and perfection.  That last one will always elude us, but at least we can have fun trying!

Until the next…Be Well…

Re-Creational Color

Re-Creational Color

Once upon a time there was a charming house in the Glen Park District of San Francisco, that looked like this:

Now, everyone’s taste is different, and some may love to live in a house with such a color scheme, but the lovely family that lives here  did not.  Upon deciding that they wanted to change their exterior house color scheme, the owners, a married couple with a young daughter, took action.

They hired not only a house painter, but a color consultant (associated with their painter),  who came up with this color combination:

This combination of colors, as I understand it, was closer to what the owners wanted (apparently they wanted to ‘get the red out”!), but still fell short of what they felt comfortable with, to say nothing of, loved.  In short, they were discomfited.  It just wasn’t right.

The neighborhood is eclectic, and creativity abounds. However, the owners wanted a more unified look to the structure, and when all was said and done, didn’t like having different colors on the house body (above) , and the foundation (below).  They decided they wanted to change out these  colors (which covered the main area of the house), and have the same color on both the body and foundation. There was already a lot going on with the trim and accent colors, which they decided to keep.

I had the good fortune of meeting  the owners while providing in-store color consulting for Benjamin Moore Creative Paint, located on Geary Boulevard, in San Francisco.  We discussed their dilemma, and they engaged me as color consultant (number two), so that we could really, as Brad Pitt might say, make it right. We knew that we were going to select just one color for both the foundation, and upper house body, and that the chosen hue probably needed to be deeper, richer and warmer then what the previous consultant had specified.

We sampled a number of options, but they all went too violet on the house surface.  San Francisco has a very particular kind of light, and the Glen Park neighborhood can get foggy. Although the violet tones worked with the burgundy trim, it was too much, and not what the Clients wanted.  Let’s face it, we had to get it right this time!

The second go-around, we sampled Benjamin Moore 1476, “Squirrel Tail”, “Taos Taupe”, 2111-40, and “Iron Gate” 1545.  The Clients knew, hands down, it had to be Squirrel Tail.  The hue contained the right amount of warmth, a bit of richness, and it worked with, rather than competed with, the “Bottle of Bordeaux” 1357  trim, and “Tarrytown Green” HC-134 accent.

We gave a nod to the house foundation by painting it in an intensified (150%)  version of the “Squirrel Tail”, to add a sense of weight and stability to the structure, without further complicating the color design.   Both foundation and upper house body were done in an eggshell sheen to add a bit of resilience, and wash-ability, but almost no shine.  The garage door, also painted in the 150% formula, was done in a satin sheen to set it off slightly, and deflect a certain amount of contact and dirt!

The result is a unified appearance, which lent the house solidity, warmth and that touch of richness and depth the Clients were seeking. By unifying the body and foundation colors, the multitude of trim and details became less prominent, also adding to the desired unity.

Finally, we “got the white out”!

It was a pleasure to work with these wonderful Clients, and see their home transform through the healing use of color.  My hope for them is that they live long and prosper, in their “new” home.

Three times a charm!

What color dilemmas have YOU had lately, and how have you solved them?

If you feel so inclined, please share with us here.  We love to hear from YOU.

Remember, we are all healing ourselves through this thing called Life, together.

Happy Color!