Color transformed bedroom

When it comes to color, everything matters.

"We just returned from the beach to see the painter's result - it is beyond fabulous.  What a remarkable outcome.  My husband loves it.  As you said, the fireplace and windows stand out and look just gorgeous." - Maureen W.

Color Matters: A Random Assortment of Links, Books and Bits

Concepts and Thoughts

  • Simultaneous contrast explains a fascinating inability to see some colors accurately that are next to each other. Google on Goethe (1749-1832), Chevreul (1786-1889), Itten (1888-1967), Albers (1888-1976) and Faber Birren (1900-1988). I love that Chevreul also discovered margarine.
  • Simultaneous Contrast On-Line Exercise: Match the inner squares; try with different backgrounds, too. How close can you get?
  • Is there any such thing as neutral? My guest blog on Rachel Perl's colorful, imaginative blog, Hue, always worth a visit.
  • Light Reflectance Value (LRV): A graspable explanation by Lori Sawaya, who delves delightfully into the science of color. I use LRV as a rough guide for good visual ergonomics.
  • Haint Blues: A blue that keeps the haunts away?  Some colors have stories that have to be told, and Lori Sawaya does it well. And “Why so blue?  Color graces a porch ceiling,” by National Public Radio.

Color Systems

  • The 12-hue color wheel with three primary, secondary and tertiary colors, is only one way to organize color.  There are more than 300 other color systems, though not all in use today. 
  • The Munsell Color System, created by Albert Henry Munsell (1858-1918), is a notated system based on hue, value and chroma, and used worldwide in such diverse fields as art, agriculture (soil color) and dentistry (tooth color).  Just google to find thousands of other links. 
  • The National Color System (NCS) from Sweden, and used internationally, describes colors as we see them with a logical notation system.  The U.S. office is in California. 


There are thousands of books about color.  A few of my favorites:

  • Color, Environment, and Human Response, Frank H. Manhke: An important text about the human response to color by the IACC’s international president (and my teacher). "Although cultural differences are evident, we know that many reactions to color are universal and cross cultural boundaries.”
  • Color: Communication in Architectural Space, also by Mahnke, Meerwein and Rodeck: Frank’s two books helped form my foundation for color consulting.
  • Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens; How Synesthetes Color Their World, Patricia Lynne Duffy: Foreword by Dr. Peter Grossenbacher, National Institute of Mental Health. The author’s first sentence: “As far back as I can remember, letters of the alphabet, numbers, and words have been in color.” 
  • Color: A National History of the Palette, Victoria Finlay: Not a design book, Finlay tells wonderful stories about historical ways of making pigments for paints and dyes – from peach stones and ivory to beetles, poison and mango-colored cow urine. Finlay traveled around the world to do her research. 
  • The Color of Cities: An International Perspective, Lois Swirnoff: Lovely photos and documentation of color characteristics of U.S. and international cities. Karen Kurokawa, of Impact Design, Inc., pointed me to this book when I was musing about color choices being geographically influenced.
  • The Interaction of Colors and other books by Joseph Albers (1888-1976): Albers conducted research about a century after Chavreul, confirming his findings about simultaneous contrast.
  • Principles of Color, Color and Human Response and other books by Faber Birren (1900-1988): Birren was an authority on the effects of color on humans. His New York Times obituary.


  • International Association of Color Consultants and Designers - North America (IACC-NA): The International Association of Color Consultants and Designers (IACC) was founded in Europe in 1957 by architects, educators, designers and scientists from twelve countries. The first president,
    Dr. Heinrich Frieling, founder of the Color Psychology Institute of Germany, created an interdisciplinary accreditation program. Since 1991, Frank Mahnke, current international president, has traveled to the U.S. to lecture so that  North American students may achieve accreditation.
  • Inter-Society Color Council (ISCC): The ISCC is a professional society in the field of color, unique in that it encompasses the arts, sciences and industry.  They hold some interesting meetings. 
  • Interior Design Society (IDS): I’m a color designer and consultant, not an interior designer. However, I study design and am a member of IDS.

Caring and Still Colorful

  • Certified Wildlife Habitat: Whether you live in a condo with a balcony or on 20 acres in the country, you can easily and quickly create a backyard habitat to help birds and wildlife, get certified on line and even get a sign for your habitat.
"In order to use colour effectively it is necessary to recognize that
colour deceives continually."
Josef Albers, educator/artist, 1888-1976