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How to Create the Perfect Okanagan Palate for your Home

As an artist involved in capturing the essence of scenery in my paintings I have come to learn that colours read differently in the Okanagan Valley.  Colour is a reflection of light and we get more light here than the rest of Canada during the spring, summer and fall months. Warm natural light fills our homes.  However, our relatively short winter sky casts a grey tone which can drain the colour from our landscapes as well as our homes interiors.

Why is this important?
The answer is that our unique natural light has a lot of bearing on the colours you could consider for your home.  Keep in mind, the colours you use to paint your home can also have profound effects on your mood and emotionally well-being according to psychologists.  Try to seek out paint colours which will perform well in all season lighting conditions.

Just like a professional artist knows what colours and colour combinations will work in their palate, the moods they will create and what impact they will provoke, our experts from two leading paint companies often advise on which paint colours work well in our Okanagan homes.  Here is what they have to say…

Why use a color tester?
Gaia Mueller, Owner of Benjamin Moore, West Kelowna and Kelowna tells us “…neutrality would be determined by the landscape and time of year.  For most of the year, I think an earthy palette reflects the colours here.”
Mueller agrees that light becomes particularly important when choosing interior and exterior colours in the Okanagan, as the same colour can look radically different inside and outside your home. In general, the light in the Okanagan is quite warm.

“Home owners should keep this in mind when selecting colours, as often their home will take on an unexpected pink tone unless they consciously combat this “pinking” effect through choosing complementary undertones such as a bit of green.

This is why it’s so important to test a colour before proceeding with a big paint job: a large colour tester (sample) is inexpensive insurance against a colour decision you may regret” states Mueller.

Colour throughout your home
The same colour can look quite awkward in another home or even in different rooms.  Factors such as flooring and lighting can change the way a colour appears inside a home.  Overall, the lighter the colour, the more effected it will be by the surrounding surface colours, in particular flooring.  If your floors have a red undertone your white walls can look pink. While a buttery yellow undertone flooring will look better with a wall colour which contains the same warm undertones.

The ultimate decision is, of course, up to you and your specific tastes. You will want to consider the impacts of large and existing decorative elements of the room, such as your flooring, furnishings, cabinetry, when selecting your colour as these will definitely need to work together.

Use of rich colours
“The Affinity palette works really well in most homes here, as it has a richness and creaminess that stands up to the warmth of the light here.  This collection is actually designed so that a person can choose any handful of colours and they will look good together” say Mueller “It’s the perfect backdrop to your artwork and furnishings.”
Sue Wadden, Director of Color Marketing, Sherwin-Williams, New York recommends colors, “…in most instances, which are warm, rich colors that simply harmonize with the hues of the environment. Because there is so much sunlight, colors often looked sunbaked and earthy, with bolder pops for balance. Interior colors are often lighter, while exteriors tend to be a darker and richer color”.

Trends in colour
Lately, some paint customers have been taking home shades of whites and off-whites. “Whites look good in both traditional and more modern settings, as long as the undertones complement the other decor choices.  The whites that tend to look sharp in modern homes are clean whites.  Warmer whites tend to look better in more traditional settings” according to Mueller.

However, now there is also movement towards decorating with muted neutrals that work well with woods, brass and metal.  It’s a richer perhaps more livable and relaxed look than stark white. And let’s remember where we live … we can reflect the warm, sunny Okanagan Valley in our homes.

Paint sheen
Lastly, consider the sheen of the paint that you select. According to Mueller, it can make a big difference in a room’s appearance.  “Spaces with lots of light exposure might do better with a matte finish on the walls, as this will better hide any existing surface imperfections in the drywall and create a velvety feeling.  Smaller spaces may do better with an eggshell or pearl finish, as this will cause the light to reflect and make the space seem larger.”
Personalize your home

I agree with our friends at Benjamin Moore, when they say to use colours that “…you love and which make you happy”.  Trends may change, but you always want to enjoy and feel comfortable in your home. After all, you don’t want to be a slave to your house and repaint it just because the trend changed.

Your challenge
Why not create your own Okanagan Palate for your Okanagan home using these suggestions?  Collect samples of your flooring, furnishings and cabinetry and seek out colour experts to help guide you. Try to look at it with an artist’s eye.

Have fun reflecting the Okanagan colours in your home. Paint on!

By Louise Lambert

Westside Weekly, Friday, May 27, 2016

Residential Development, The Okanagan Saturday, May 28, 2016