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Don't Let Color Scare You

Posted on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 @ 10:53 AM

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Brought to you by Contributing Editor Ashley M. Shoults of Animal Arts.

It happens all the time.  You reach the point in the design of your hospital where it’s time to pick material and paint colors, and the stress and anxiety begins to set in.  How can I pick colors from just these little samples?  Should I choose a bold, vibrant and exciting color palette or stick to more traditional neutral shades just to play it safe?  And no matter what I choose, how will these colors actually look when they are installed?  These are the types of questions many people ask as they design their hospital, and it’s only natural.  Color can be a scary and daunting thing.  But it doesn’t have to be!

Vibrant, punchy colors are the “in” thing these days.  Just look at the past two Pantone Colors of the Year….Tangerine Tango and Emerald Green!

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It might be hard to picture a whole wall painted in one of these very bright colors.  They seem overwhelming, right?  But when used correctly, these vibrant colors can really liven up your hospital space.

For those who don’t mind living on the edge, using lively paint colors as accent walls can be really fun and energizing.  However, be careful not to overdo the accent colors or your space might start to overstimulate you, your staff and your clients.  

One technique to find balance when using bright colors is to let neutral colors ground the space.  For example, design your floors and cabinetry with neutral and sophisticated colors, and then add punch with bright, lively accent walls.

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Hospitals can also look really great when color is used virtually everywhere.  That might sound overpowering, but when done right, it not only enlivens your space, but also warms it up and makes it feel more inviting.  The trick with this approach is choosing colors that are a little less intense and that are within the same color family and general tone.

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If you prefer a more traditional aesthetic, there are ways to bring color into your space without bright accent walls.  Try letting your cabinetry or furniture do the talking.  Even though the current trends are showing bold, vibrant colors as the new thing, many designers are creating rooms with very neutral colors on the hard-built environment (walls, floors, etc.) and adding accent colors through furniture, cabinetry, and other decorative items.  For example, you could pick a brighter color for your built-in cabinetry or add some colorful pendant lights above the reception desk and some artwork to add a fun factor to the space.  Or perhaps pick some vibrant fabrics for your lobby seating to jazz things up.

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Ultimately, when it comes to picking the colors for your new hospital or renovation, the goal is to not let color scare you.  When done right, color can often be a key factor to bringing in a little touch of energy and interest that makes your hospital feel more welcoming.

Tags: Facility Design, Hospital Design, Contributing Editors, Animal Arts Editors, Industry Trends