A coat of paint can do wonders, wouldn't you agree? We partnered with Farrow & Ball, purveyors of high-quality, richly-pigmented paint, to share how some of our favorite designers and writers are using paint in home workspaces—and how you can, too.
If you work from home, chances are you spend a lot of time staring at the walls. Not because you lack talent or creative vision, but mostly because it’s the only thing right there in front of you: no adjacent coworkers’ desks, no communal kitchen, nary a break out room in sight.
So those walls matter. Your space matters, because it has to be conducive to so many of your needs—not just work-you, but R&R-you as well. One of the easiest ways to keep a home workspace from feeling oppressive, or simply mind-numbingly boring, is by using paint. Paint can liven up a space, or take it down a couple of notches from a previous tenant's questionable color choices. The right paint can be the difference between your home office feeling like a sterile afterthought and ground zero for creative energy.
But how do you decide which paint color is right for you?
"I've painted home workspaces every color of the rainbow,” says interior designer Brad Sherman, principal of FLOAT Studios (and the designer of Food52’s offices). “[In] a landscape architect's home office we pulled out the character in the space by painting the window trim and mullions black, [and] going with a warm white on the walls. We achieved contrast by painting the ceilings and trim in a super crisp white.”
When it came time to design the perfect home office space for a literary agent, the firm took a different tack, dousing the walls in a deep green blue. “It's dark and moody, but not too saturated to be relaxing. A perfect color for someone who needs to focus on reading manuscripts all day in a calming environment.”
It makes sense, then, that your space should work for you, in addition to reflecting your tastes and preferences. A photographer might find that hours spent processing images in Photoshop in a dimly-lit room is enhanced by the right shade of moody cobalt blue; a prop stylist might paint one wall white for endless mood-boarding while the rest of the room pops in millennial pink. In effect, the first rule of painting your home workspace is that there are no rules—only the best intentions and a willingness to think critically.
Freelance writer and editor Jennifer Fernandez is no stranger to a little strategic color coordination. Fernandez, who calls Park Slope home, painted her bedroom in a deep blue grey, which she declares is “great for moody creativity.” The rest of the apartment is done in a classic "warm white that still feels light and bright.” Fernandez bounces back and forth between the two rooms while working. “The white feels calming and like a nice blank slate that allows my mind to go where it needs to go, and the blue is almost like an amplifier—like when you place a television against a dark wall, the images become that much brighter and more powerful. Both help me capture whatever mindset I need to get the job done.”
It’s important to remember that what one person finds distracting may be energizing to another, notes FLOAT Studio’s Nina Etnier, who knows that a home office is filled with items that can pull even the most diligent among us away from the task at hand. (Don’t even get us started on phones.) “The other thing to consider is how the wall color relates to other items in the space,” says Etnier. “It should serve as a subtle complement to the materials, textures, and patterns of the rest of the objects in the room.”
As with any big home design decision, you’ll want to test the waters before committing. Order samples to test in your home workspace; watch how they look in natural light throughout the day as well as how they read in the evening under ambient light. Ask yourself how different colors make you feel and how you react around them. If you paint your walls white, will you simply sit around all day creating Instagrammable tableaus? Is your room too dark to go dark? A color too loud for quiet thought? Research, test, then pull the trigger—and remember that a little elbow grease can solve anything.
Is there a color that gets you in the mood to be productive? Tell us in the comments below!
Every room deserves a sharp paint job, so we partnered with Farrow & Ball to share how to perk up a workspace with paint. Farrow & Ball makes over 130 richly-pigmented colors that play well with light all through the day. Schedule a Color Consultancy and see all of their colors here.