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How to break the color rules

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Sunday, June 2, 2013, 6:33 p.m.

When it comes time for a new paint project, the creative side of our brain thinks, “Ooh painting, fun!”, while the more logical side worries, “What color goes with that again?” A plain white wall can be daunting, and choosing that perfect shade to accommodate everyone who steps into the room can be challenging.

That's why a few rule-bending guidelines from Eve Ashcraft, author of “The Right Color” (Artisan, $29.95) will help you get started, and show you why those who paint outside the lines have more fun.

Pink is for girls: A soft, pale pink is beautiful in almost any room, casting a glow that makes everyone in it look the picture of health — but this shade needs to be anchored. Offset its sweetness with handsome dark woods, upholstery in deep tones and “masculine“ metals like iron and bronze.

Brown is for boys: Brown can be buttered up with pale, warm colors or sent on a hot date with bright pink, rich red or lavender. Pairing colors with opposite associations will balance out the baggage.

Never use one color for everything: Traditional architecture is filled to the rafters with trim — door frames, baseboards, crown moldings. And, tradition says these elements should be one color, usually white, while the walls are painted a contrasting color. But painting the trim the same color as the walls is a powerful way to simplify and modernize older styles of architecture. By using one color, or even two that are very close in value, you reduce the visual stimulation created by contrasting trim.

Stay away from black: Breaking this rule is like skipping class for the first time. It feels liberating and dangerous all at once. Black is the new white for trim. Black is handsome and substantive, lending gravitas to a pale hue or grounding whimsy.

— Emma Deihle, Trib Total Media

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