Leave the trends to fashion, but learn how to be attuned to using color in your home


With a broad spectrum of colors, Nancy Howell helps clients narrow down to that perfect hue for the home. (Photo by Rich Lopez)

By Jenny Block

Nancy Howell believes in letting your true colors shine through – whatever those colors might be. Howell, co-owner and design principal of Solutions By Design, has more than 36 years of experience in both residential and commercial design. In that time, she’s learned how color can affect or even disaffect a room. And her work is about much more than window treatments and ottomans.

“I give people a better quality of life,” she says. “Everything is so much more difficult now than when I was growing up. The only thing we can actually control is our environment.”

That’s one thing that’s consistent no matter who the client is, Howell explains. “When someone enjoys their space, they’re happy.”

And at the top of the list is color.

“People gravitate toward certain colors,” Howell says. “They make us feel good in certain spaces — mostly the home.”

Howell says that despite her years of experience, how one person is drawn to a color remains a mystery.

“There is a huge psychology of color,” she says. “What I try to do is help people see what colors they like. I use a lot of emotional response to see what they like visually.”

Howell has worked with people with some surprising preferences, including a home with a violet bedroom and another filled with turquoise carpet. There really is no rhyme or reason to it all regardless of where people live, what they do for a living or what circles they run in.

Whether she’s working on a bedroom or a living room, a modern, downtown loft or a suburban home, Howell says it’s all about reflecting the person or people living in that space. So what if someone is drawn to disparate colors or design pieces in one space? Howell resolves how to put all kinds of different elements together. But there is one thing that Howell always steers clear of.

“I’ve never done trendy. I do what people enjoy,” she asserts.

That’s key when it comes to decorating, because for most people, it’s not something that can be redone again and again. Even if a client doesn’t feel confident about what he or she wants, Howell feels confident that she can figure it out. She calls the procedure “programming.”

“I ask a ton of questions about entertaining, kids, pets, lifestyle, interests. People will say, ‘I don’t really know what I like.’ But when you do this kind of programming, you can figure out what people like,” she says.

It can be difficult for some people to fully understand color, but she considers educating as part of her role as a designer so the client can become much more attuned to color.

With trendy colors, Howell encourages people to leave that for other avenues.

 “I tell people to only think about fashionable colors when it comes to fashion, not home design,” she says.

In case you’re wondering what is in store this season, there is a palette of colors she’s discovering is making its way into several homes.

 “This year, colors are leaning toward those inspired by Mother Nature. Mellow tones like driftwood, cockatoo and sweet lilac. Pantone has come out with 175 new colors this year,” she says. “That will bring their total to 2,100. But it doesn’t matter what’s in fashion. It only matters what appeals to you.”

Call 972-724-2032 for a color consultation.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 20, 2012.