In Lifestyle

Living in Color

Use of Color in Living Spaces 

While we grow weary of Michigan’s long, cold winters, they form the full tapestry of four rich and vibrant seasons—each with its own kaleidoscope of colors. Spring awakens our landscape with tiny blooms emerging from the earth and buds forming on trees. The warmth of summer is marked by long languid days slipping into evening and stunning sunsets. Autumn follows with its crisp chill air and bursts of colorful foliage, and then clear, cold winters with bare trees in stark contrast to a snow-white backdrop.

Truly, the colors of nature inspire us and influence every aspect of our lives—how we dress, the cars we drive, the way we decorate our homes—and color has a huge impact on how we feel in our homes, how the color in our rooms reacts to light and the mood it engenders.

All of these influence interior designers as they contemplate home décor. But color has even greater significance for interior designers who concentrate on creating environs for older adults, particularly those who lack mobility, have diminished eyesight, or who need 24-hour care.

Thoughtful use of color in the design of living spaces for older adults can bring comfort and solace, which is why the latest color trends influence these designers less than others.  Most retirement communities don’t change décor very often. “They’re looking for solutions that will last ten to fifteen years,” says Jennifer Paist, an interior designer at a Minneapolis-based firm that specializes in designing for both senior living and healthcare facilities.

However, trends can sometimes surprise us. It pleasantly surprised Jeff Huegli, CEO of Beacon Hill, who, on a recent visit to the Grand Rapids Home & Garden Show, saw a huge display of the Pantone Color Institute’s Color of 2019, “Living Coral,” and recognized it as the paint color used on the walls in Beacon Hill’s skilled nursing residence. This prompted him to seek out Bridget Bohacz, Beacon Hill’s interior designer, and ask what prompted her to choose that color.

“I do look at future trends and the various looks that are scattered throughout showrooms and trade shows. I’m interested in what’s different and fresh, but I always think of more than just one color.” Bohacz specializes in interior design for senior living; so in choosing colors for skilled nursing, for example, she sought those that engendered feelings of happiness—colors that are fresh, cheerful and bring joy into residents’ lives.

“Michigan’s weather has many gray days and residents are limited in how often they get outside, so you aim for their interior space to be wonderful for them.” She began experimenting with newer colors and with blues, which are crowd pleasers. “Both men and women like blue, which is why you see it so often. You can do so many things with it and very few react negatively to the color blue. And, it’s a natural fit here, being so close to Lake Michigan and its blue hues.”

So, in creating a complete color palette, Bohacz knew she also needed that “pop” of color. Some administrators she worked with questioned the use of coral, but it was very popular in Florida where she first used it, she explained, “and it turned out to be a beautiful color.” That was four or five years ago. Clearly, Bohacz was ahead of the color curve and may have even influenced “Living Coral’s” selection as the 2019 Pantone color of the year.

“Living Coral” is refreshing, and a more forgiving color that doesn’t show much wear and tear,” said Bohacz, who went on to explain that, after formulating the color palette and selecting the carpet, she checks to see what is available in fabrics and wall coverings that will complement and coordinate with this palette. “We use a combination of fabric types, so we investigate a wide variety to ensure we have a wonderful selection of upholstery and wall coverings to pull from.” The result—a beautifully designed living space that combines cheerful, yet soothing, colors with complementary carpet, upholstery, wall coverings and accessories.

Even though choosing a color palette that includes this year’s “color of the year,” was not a goal of either Beacon Hill or interior designer Bridget Bohacz, it is kind of fun to be on the design world’s color cutting edge. Great work, Bridget!!

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