I’ve Got Color! Contest: Ethan’s Strong Espresso Dining Room
Name: Ethan B.
Location: Rural Northern CT
Why I use color:
“Without color, life would be pretty boring… I generally like to settle on a color scheme to set as neutral (even if the colors themselves are not neutral), and then I like to incorporate elements with some pop / contrast as accent elements. For instance, in this room, I’ve got beige walls, Brazilian brown countertop in the bar/kitchen, an espresso table and chairs, and espresso /chrome bar stools. The accent colors come from my dishes and the plants in the room, with oranges and greens, and the tree view out the double windows that changes seasonally. Also, notice the use of my dog in one of the pictures which provides a varying element to the room (especially with all his [not pictured] toys!) ;0”
Color Tips: (from a software developer [read: nerd])
“Calibrate your monitor. This is an absolute must if you plan on shopping online and making decisions with respect to color. Sometimes this becomes necessary based on where you live and the resources you have available within a reasonable driving distance. Without calibration, what you might think is orange might turn out to be red and vice versa, and returning stuff can be a real pain. I use the Gretag Macbeth EyeOne , which I was able to borrow from work, with excellent results. I also refer to the Dry Creek Photo reference  on monitor calibration for useful tips.
“Go crazy at your local hardware / paint store – and then stay on theme. I grab as many paint chips representing different shades of a color as possible. Since the lighting in the store isn’t the same as the lighting in your room, it makes sense to bring as much back as possible, and start narrowing down from there. Once you have your scheme / palette, stick to it. If you’re really going to design a room in a color-centric fashion, do your best to stay within bounds. I come across a lot of cool accessories, art, decorative pieces, etc that, while cool, just don’t quite fit sometimes. Resist the temptation to buy stuff willy-nilly, OR, if it’s a must-have, be prepared to rework your scheme for consistency….”
…And if you’re going to paint yourself, don’t go cheap on supplies – premium quality paint and rollers, brushes, tape, etc. are only slightly more expensive than the cheap stuff, and they last longer and provide better results. Since paint is generally quite inexpensive to begin with, spend the few extra bucks. “
“Don’t be afraid to experiment. I once picked what I thought was a great color for my bedroom, and it turned out to be an awful match. Sure it cost me some time, but it was worth repainting the area immediately with another color that was a better fit. Since paint chips are small and can be misleading, if you’re uncertain of the impact of a color, find a piece of old plywood or drywall to use as your test lab to see how the color works in a larger area. “
“EasyRGB  is your friend. If you’ve seen a color on a web page that you would like to match to a real paint color, go here and use their color matching tool, which allows you to match an RGB value to a number of manufacturers color collections (i.e. Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, etc), and to effectively match colors between manufacturers. If you don’t know how to get an RGB value, use the Microsoft Developer Toolbar for Internet Explorer  or open up an image file in PhotoShop and use the eye-dropper tool. Beyond color matching, EasyRGB also provides color harmonies based on a color, tint searching by manufacturer name or number, and a color calculator which will help you to determine how light will affect your color selection.
The flickr  / mpix  1-2 punch. I love exploring flickr – and a real inexpensive way to get your hands on one-of-a-kind photography is to find high resolutions images and print them through a professional online shop (hint: there are groups on flickr run by professional photographers that specialize in collecting only the finest photographs out there). Mpix.com has ICC profiles for color management available if you ask, so you can ensure that when you print you get the most accurate results by giving them a file in their printable color space. This becomes a great way to stay on theme with your colors because flickr is a nearly limitless supply of colors, styles, etc. If you’re more creative, ditch flickr, and print your own pictures at mpix.
Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer . If your monitor is calibrated, this is a great way to experiment with different color schemes in different room styles. Just remember even with calibration there will be some variation with final appearance of a color because of the fundamental difference between how color is emitted from your monitor, versus reflected off your wall. I like this tool better than the Behr equivalent. “