Choose Paint Colors With a Color Wheel

Color Wheel Guide


Photo: The Color Wheel Co.

Picking out paint colors can be a confusing experience, leaving you racked with indecision as you peruse swatches from paint companies intent on re-creating all of the 7 million colors distinguishable to the human eye. Trying to figure out which of those colors will mix harmoniously on your living room wall is enough to make you turn straight to the ecru-and-eggshell-white family and never leave.

One way to go, however, is to use a complementary color scheme. Proving the rule that opposites attract, these pairings can always be found at opposite ends from each other on a paint color wheel. When put together, they bring out the best in each other, making both colors look cleaner and brighter than if either were mixed with, say, a neutral gray or a different shade of the same hue.

An essential tool for paint pros everywhere, the color wheel is constructed to help you see the relationships between different hues. The bases are thre primary colors: red, blue and yellow. These are then combined to make the three secondary colors: orange, green, and purple. Finally, the remaining six colors on the wheel are known as tertiary colors and are mixes of the secondary colors, including such hues as red-orange and blue-green.

Familiarizing yourself with the color wheel can help you understand how to best mix and match a cool color with a warm one, for a naturally balanced room. Here are some examples of how to use these color pairings effectively.


Photo: Deborah Whitlaw-Llewellyn

Complements: Red and Green

When considering paint colors, remember to figure in the finish of any woodwork in the room. In this rustic Colonial-style kitchen, the green hues brushed onto the walls and lower cabinets complement the red tones of the mahogany beadboard and upper cabinets. 


Photo: Mark Lund

Complements: Red-Orange and Blue-Green

The two colors you choose don’t have to have equal prominence in the room to work. You can use one as the main color as an accent, or bring small colored accessories into an already painted room to see how you feel about the pairing. Here, the energetically bright orange-red towel and glass pop against the cool, blue-green walls without overwhelming the soothing hue.


Photo: Laura Moss

Complements: Orange and Blue

Keep the furniture you already have in mind when considering a new paint color. The cool blue milk paint on this wall accentuates the bright burst of orange on the blank chest in front of it – a scheme echoed in a more muted fashion in the bedroom rug beyond the doorway.


Photo: Laura Moss

Complements: Yellow-Orange and Blue-Violet

Bright colors can breathe new life into traditional woodwork and work especially well in casual living areas. Here, glossy violet-blue pantry doors in a mudroom pop against the yellow-orange of the adjacent wall. When working with more saturated hues, remember that the colors will often appear more intense on the walls than they do on the strip. 


Photo: Laura Moss

Complements: Yellow and Violet

If you’re a bit timid about suddenly splashing a couple of cans of color onto your walls, consider using two complementary colors as accents in the same room. In this 1950s kitchen the yellow window casing and violet countertop show nicely against the neutral beadboard and white cabinets. 


Photo: Gregg Segal

Complements: Yellow-Green and Red-Violet

Make sure the intensities of the tones you use are balanced. In this kitchen, the pale yellow-green trim and pantry door meet their match in the subdued reddish-violet paint on the walls. 

How to Work With a Remodeler

Avoid costly mistakes and get exactly the upgrade you want for your home by working with a professional remodeler.

Lifestyles evolve over time, and so do our homes. Babies are born; kids grow up and leave the nest; aging parents join the household. And even if a house functions just the way it needs to, changing design trends and new materials can leave older spaces looking a little musty and dusty.

That’s where a professional remodeler comes in. Read on to find out what a remodeler can do for you and how to get the most out of your experience. 

What a remodeler does: A remodeler is a contractor with a focus on making structural alterations to an existing home or building. He or she implements architectural plans and sometimes provides residential design services. Remodelers also perform many of the same duties as a general contractor, such as hiring and overseeing subcontractors and sourcing materials. Many states have certification requirements for remodelers. 

When to hire one: If you’re planning a significant change or addition to your home, hire a remodeling contractor to ensure the integrity of the design and construction, and also to ensure that you’ll meet current building codes. Remodelers also are well versed in cost estimating, legal issues and other nuts and bolts concerns.

What it will cost: Remodelers’ fees take several different forms, and costs vary widely depending on the nature of the work and the materials used. While some will agree to a flat fee, others charge a percentage of the total labor and materials cost (typically 10 to 15 percent, but sometimes as high as 25 percent).

It’s worth noting that, as with many aspects of home improvement, you get what you pay for – a remodeler who may charge more but has deep experience and a sterling reputation is generally worth the extra cost. Don’t hire based on the lowest estimate alone. 

Where to find one: Browse the directory of professionals on or use a reliable source such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). Check to see if there are remodelers’ trade organizations in your area as well. Another professional you’re working with, such as an interior designer, also may be able to give you leads.

If you notice that one of your neighbors is having work done (remodelers often place a sign with their name and logo in the front yard during construction), ask whether they’d recommend the professional they’ve hired. 

Have a clear idea of what you want: Maybe you’re looking to double the size and change the footprint of a dated kitchen, or perhaps you want to convert your attic into a guest suite. Think through the scope of the project you have in mind and create a Houzz ideabook or pull other design resources for inspiration. Don’t worry too much about whether every detail is feasible; your remodeler will help you brainstorm alternatives if it isn’t.

Interview the candidates on your short list: Not only should you confirm that they have experience with the type of project you have in mind, but you’ll also want to be sure that you have a good rapport and communicate well.

Ask detailed questions about job history, professional training and affiliations, licensing requirements and insurance, and get the names of a few references. If lead paint is a concern in your home, you may also need to confirm that the remodeler is lead-safe certified under EPA guidelines. 

Visit an in progress job-site (if possible): Ask to drop by one of the remodeler’s current job sites. This can give you a sneak peek at what your experience might be like. Is the site clean and well maintained, and does work appear to be progressing in an orderly fashion? Look closely at the quality of the construction and the attention to detail as well.

Be sure you understand the terms of the contract: Once you’ve chosen a pro, go over the contract in detail to be sure you won’t encounter any surprises. Besides basics such as contact information for the remodeler and others who will be supervising, license number, insurance information, it should include a start-to-finish timetable, a materials list with price breakdowns, payment terms, change order specifications, blueprint or detailed sketches and provisions for conflict resolution. Don’t be shy about asking the remodeler to clarify any details you find confusing.

Confirm which areas of your home the project will affect: You may be remodeling a single room, but the temporary disruption could extend to adjacent spaces. Plumbing, electrical wiring and other behind-the-walls systems might be affected as well. Ask the remodeler which rooms the work will touch so that you can prepare accordingly.

Do your part to make the remodeler’s job easier: Clear out furniture from affected rooms, be sure the work crew has adequate space to park and transport materials, and make provisions to keep pets and kids well out of the way. Give the remodeler an idea of your family’s daily schedule and stick to it as closely as possible to minimize disruptions to the workflow. 

Make sure you’re easily reachable even when you’re not onsite. And if you decide to make a change along the way, try not to drag out the decision-making process, which can throw the timetable significantly off schedule.

Don’t wait to call attention to issues: Few, if any, remodeling jobs reach the finish line without a few bumps and snags along the way. Speak up as soon as a problem arises, whether it’s substandard work quality, a communication breakdown or a subcontractor who leaves the site in disarray. That way, you and the remodeler can agree on a plan to resolve it as soon as possible, before work proceeds too far – and you’ll feel reassured that you’ll be completely satisfied when it comes time to make the final payment for the job. 

Bathroom Remodeling Tips

blue and white tile bathroom

A single bathroom remodeling tip could inspire fresh thinking for your entire remodeling project. Trends area always being updated, so it’s useful to know what’s new in home bathroom design. You’ll find bathroom remodeling advise and inspiration here.

Express Yourself

Choosing Colors: A fresh coat of paint is an easy way to give your room an instant face-lift. Single color schemes make small rooms larger and a neutral palette can expand your space more. Or, add drama with colors like deep reds, eggplant, ochre, and dark blues or greens. 

The Personal Touch: Collections and objects that express your personality or your family history will make your home interesting to your guests and more enjoyable for you. 

Imported Ideas: Consider letting a favorite hotel or restaurant, or an outdoor spot that you enjoy, provide the inspiration for your bedroom, dining room or bath. 

Planting Style: One beautiful plant can be a strong design statement. Your style sense will determine whether a dramatic green plant or a bright floral bouquet is best for you.

Dynamic Design

The Right Finish: Now more than ever, you have choices for kitchen and bath fixtures. While matte or polished chrome are always popular, homeowners are choosing darker finishes such as oil-rubbed bronze and wrought iron. Consider the look and feel you wish to create when deciding. 

Bright Ideas: Halogen downlights and scones provide whiter light and fresh designs. Visit the lighting section of your home improvement center to get a better idea of these styles.

Quick ‘n Easy: Multi-purpose rooms need to switch moods easily. Today’s high-tech dimmers let you fine-tune your lights – even dim or raise them with a remote. 

Mix It Up: Today’s larger kitchen has room for variety. Mix-and-match styles and wood types for an eclectic feel that adds a unique look, from baseboard to hanging cabinets.

Packs a Punch

High-Performance Shower: Today’s shower design offers unprecedented opportunities for adding deluxe features – massaging vertical spas, rain shower showerheads and luxurious materials such as glass, tile and stone. 

Organized Kitchen: Specialized storage systems, appliances and fixtures speed meal preparation and keep entertaining organized. Choose open shelving for quick access. Locate a faucet next to the range to fill big pots quickly and conveniently.

Design Focus: A single, dramatic focal point for a room you’re remodeling makes the improvements more obvious. Try a special piece of furniture, an interesting piece of art or one wall that’s boldly colored.

Double Duty: Lighting is a sculpture as well as illumination. Choose light fixtures in shapes that are pleasing to look at – whether they’re switched on or off.

Works for Me

Getaway Baths: The bath can be a relaxing, serene environment. Add massaging or rain showerheads, a deep Zen soaking tub and even music and candles to enhance the revitalizing experience. 

Counter Space: If your bathroom is being shared by the family, counter space is critical. Consider a vanity with cabinets for extra storage and organization.

Ageless Amenities: Features usually associated with older homeowners – easier access, brighter lighting and convenient handholds – are helpful at any age. Adding them with your remodel could improve your home’s resale value.

Bed and Breakfast: Adding a morning bar to a master bedroom with an elaborate, built-in countertop and sink is a great way to add luxury and functionality.

Practical Approach

Finding Your Design: Start a scrapbook of design ideas you find in magazines and online. This will help you establish a foundation for your remodeling project. 

Sketch Your Layout: This will help you understand how you would like your new room to look and help you change the little things that you don’t care for in your current design.

Set a Budget: By outlining how much you can spend on each phase of the project you will be able to see if you can splurge on the extras; like a contractor or if you need to cut and do it yourself.

Set a Timeline: This will help you keep on track and allow you to achieve your remodeling goals. 

Summer Design Tips


Summer Design

Summer is the most practical time to do construction on your kitchen. While doing an aesthetic design, do NOT forget functionality. If your kitchen does not function according to your family and your day use, then no matter how gorgeous it is you will not be satisfied. Remember one rule above all and that is the “Working Triangle.” This is the path of travel between the sink, stove and refrigerator. By making a non-obstructive path 4′-9′ long, this creates a functional way to prepare and cook meals. 

The perfect place to hang out during your kitchen construction is in the backyard or on the patio. The newest and coolest trend in all the outdoor space design is an outdoor fireplace. They are amazing for the winter or summertime seasons. 

As all Coloradans know, at night it cools down significantly to a temperature that is too cold for outdoor entertaining, even in the summer sometimes, without wearing a jacket. A fireplace is the solution to this! In those winter months sitting by the fire under the stars, having a glass of wine, is the picture perfect cozy retreat. 

Summertime Tips:

  1. Don’t forget about fun summer fabrics!

  2. Have a separate bedspread for the summer months that is made of 100% cotton and keep cooler!

  3. Dead head your plants and get more blooms later in the season!

Plan Functional Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor Kitchen

Careful Selection of Grilling Equipment, Appliances and Cabinets is Critical to Designing a Successful Outdoor Kitchen

The popularity of outdoor kitchens continues to skyrocket, and with it the availability of products and techniques that make them affordable and functional also is increasing. If a client’s desire is to go beyond the standard grill, then an outdoor kitchen can provide all the conveniences to rival any indoor kitchen. Equipment selection remains the primary consideration. The second most critical consideration pertains to cabinetry. 


With its various features, the grill entices the novie and expert. Therefore, careful assessment of a client’s grilling style or desire is in order. 

Natural or propane gas and the accompanying storage/gas/electrical line placement is crucial. If built-in (versus freestanding), the 3/4-inch gas line needs to have a shutoff and quick disconnect for an emergency or season change. If using propane, there needs to be room for the tank that is easily accessible for replacement. If using natural gas, room for the line with a pressure  regulator is needed. All grills usually need an insulating surround (some come from the grill maker) to protect any material surrounding it, such as wood, particleboard or combustible materials. 

Attached lighting and electrical lines for igniters are a must with a shutoff if possible. All of these connections need to be sealed against water. A grill design element not usually considered is the placement of wind protection (a 10 – to 12-inch backsplash, if not in the design of the hood). When not considered, the hot air forced down from the back of the grill could melt plastic knobs. 

If you specify an icemaker and refrigerator, UL approved for outdoor use is necessary. A manufacturer’s warranty usually is only for temperatures down to 32 F. This requires more consideration in colder climates for a complete disconnect. Ice machines and sinks require a couple quarts of marine-grade antifreeze be placed in the drains in off months. Water lines need a bleed-port through which water can be depleted so lines don’t freeze. Ice machines should have a gravity drain; pump models are too prone to freezing. 


With introductions of teak, cypress and other waterproof woods, outdoor-grade laminates and man-made materials, the aesthetics of cabinertry can be enhanced beyond stainless steel. Select cabinets made with marine-grade materials, such as plywood, that have weep holes for water to drain out of in cabinets and drawers. Doors and drawers need rubber gasket seals. The flashing on any grill insulation kit installed around the perimeter of the grill should protect the cabinet on each side, as well as from any heat below. 

Drawer glide systems should be of the highest stainless/nickel content to protect against moisture/dust infiltration. Hinges need to have a tighter tension to prevent wind from opening them; otherwise a lock may be needed. 

Equipment and cabinetry are the most important components of an outdoor kitchen. Once they are designed, selected and installed well, they will provide optimum pleasure. Ensure your design/construction team understands some of these practical but sometimes overlooked aspects of an outdoor kitchen.

Design an Entertainment Space

The Armstrong Bar Area

The Armstrong Bar Area – Project Manager: Randy WilsonWet Bars and Kitchenettes Have Evolved Well Beyond a Sink and Mini-fridge

A room with a sofa, a few chairs and possibly a television that kept the late 20th century family happy must now include all the latest electronic devices, including a flat-screen or 3-D TV with the latest built-in speakers that re-create the original recorded tones. To complete the package, wet bars, kitchenettes and conversation areas dominate. 

Friends gather to watch sporting events, movies, and catch up on each other’s lives. Often, food and beverages become staples that foster a cohesive atmosphere. The kitchen historically has been the favorite gathering place during food and beverage preparation, but entertainment areas now must assume many of those duties to relieve the hosts from continually traveling to the main kitchen to refresh drinks and bring more snacks to the pantry.

Bars and entertainment spaces will vary in size and scope. Look to your first client interview to gain an in-depth understanding of the home owner’s concept. The initial interview should include a discussion of the the cost factors for all the clients’ desires. It is difficult and embarrassing to miss budget expectations by a large amount because we did not properly conduct the initial interview. We need their investment target and their prioritization of the desired features for the space.

Rarely do wet bars include a cooktop, but many might include a dishwasher, microwave, sink and some type of refrigeration. Planning for each of these items will require knowledge of how the owners intend to use this space, as well as the amount of dishes, glassware and flatware they intend to store there.

When starting the design process, keep in mind the spacing of appliances, countertop area and walkways should mimic a well-designed kitchen. Consider enlarging the landing space for a microwave from the recommended 15-inches wide by 16-inches deep to 24-inches wide times the entire depth of the countertop. This additional surface area will help tremendously when preparing hors d’oeuvres and snacks for a gathering.

When planning for seating and converstation areas, assume audio and video will probably be playing in the background. Traffic from the converstaion area to the bar or other conveniences should not cross paths with the seating for TV viewing. This presupposes the space available is adequate for such a design. 

Lighting is an important consideration and requires the attention of a lighting professional. Providing proper direct and indirect light levels with appropriate switching and dimming is vital to a successful space plan. Many well-designed projects fail because of poor lighting. Nowhere in the home is this more true than in the rooms most often remodeled–kitchens, baths, and entertainment areas. 

Keep in mind the three-legged stool test for excellent design. First, develop an efficient layout–one that accomplishes the “needs” first and as many of the “wants” as the budget permits. Here is where options can help the prospects increase their budget to capture their dream project. Second, be sure the decor is aesthetically pleasing. Third, the lighting should be designed to accentuate, enhance, and provide the moods desired at various times and in various areas of the room. 

Following these guidelines will help to create a well-designed and enjoyable entertainment space.