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Color my world
With a palette to choose from, take a risk and splash some paint on your walls

By MARY LOU SANTOVEC

Mad for plaid? Gaga for geometrics? Nothing says you canít paint your walls with a mix of hues that would have gotten you bounced out of a traditional art class. It just takes a supportive designer and a willingness to take a risk and go against the grain. So throw away the color wheel, think outside the box and let your imagination ó and paint choices ó run wild like the clients of these two designers.

Plaid inspired Kathleen Finch in her color choices for a Delafield clientís lower level great room, bar and media room. "I took the colors of an existing pair of upholstered chairs and worked off what the clients had," the owner of Kathleen Finch Interior Design in Wauwatosa explains. The chairsí plaid fabric, in shades of wine, navy and gold, formed the basis for a transformation that wasnít "garish or kid-like."

Merging a lighter, fresher blue with the navy, wine and gold and adding a camel color to the mix created a large palette that on paper could have been over the top in intensity. One way Finch made connections between the hues was to apply wallpaper that incorporated all the colors to one wall. Camel was added to the wainscoting. Navy rectangles against the lighter blue background formed "frames" for two oil paintings. Even with no natural light coming in, the deep colors arenít overpowering.

"Having different colors on the wall made it feel so much bigger," says Finch. "Itís a cohesive whole but it feels like separate spaces."

In an open concept floor plan in a Franklin home with the kitchen, living room and dining room in full view, Finch really pushed the color envelope. She painted the walls in the kitchen a deep red. The dining room emphasized an olive tone and pale yellow walls complemented the blue and yellow furniture in the living room.

Heading down the hall, Finch painted the master bedroom a pale green, a lighter shade than the olive found in the dining room, and added a lavender ceiling and accents. The bedroomís inspiration came from an heirloom quilt. "Fabrics on the window treatments pulled everything together," she says. "Itís very soothing and restful and at the same time very pale and sophisticated."

Sherry Shinken, owner of the Milwaukee-based Innovative Design Services, takes her color cues from the clientís wardrobe or the homeís architecture. "When you look at color, colors are cued by the architecture or personal design style of the occupants of the house," she says. "I try to get an overview of what my client is trying to accomplish."

When you think of a lodge, dark green, copper, bronze and natural wood tones are indicative of that particular style. But add orange and the lodge feeling suddenly transforms from northwoods to contemporary. Shinken used that palette to complete a sunroom in a Bayside home. "It was very contemporary but had a softness to the space," she says.

So this year challenge your concept of safe and color your walls with drama. M