Color Theory of Bloomington Awarded Best Of Houzz 2018

Color Theory of Bloomington Awarded Best Of Houzz 2018

Bloomington, Indiana, January 18, 2018 – Color Theoryof Bloomingtonhas won “Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. Thecolor and design focused panting companywas chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals. 

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5 Takeaways From Our Last Painting Experience

5 Takeaways From Our Last Painting Experience

When the homeowners called Color Theory, they initially wanted a quote for painting, but also learned about our color consulting service and were interested in what help that might bring. They had already started working with an interior designer but were still a little back and forth on the new colors. We brought our colors with us and developed a scheme that would work beautifully with the lighting of there home.

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Color Inspiration From Frank Lloyd Wright

At a Craftsmanship Conference through the PDCA I attended recently, we were priveleged to tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s first home. As a group of craftsmen it was hard to temper our trained eyes and not scrutinize every little fault created by the age of an historic home but overall we were very impressed by the detail and craft put into the home.  

I made sure to document the trip and use the original colors of Wright’s home as timeless inspiration.  


The home and studio built by Wright at the age of 22 was built on a $5,000 loan in 1889. A few additions and remodels expanded the space to accommodate Wright, his wife and six children. The current home has been restored to its 1909 rendition to the time the home was last occupied by the Wright Family. 


Located at 951 Chicago Ave in Oak Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, the home is unique and built ahead of its time and in many cases built ahead of the available technologies of the day. Although it started as a smaller building, two major renovations expanded the kitchen and living quarters as well as an impressive octagonal home studio that could house around ten architects working together.  


Victorian in nature, classical replicas of statues and freezes adorn the home with several items that would have been found somewhat inexpensively in a catalog, the home was built somewhat on a budget and so we see a combination of decadence, prudence and early genius.  


The plaster work in a Wright home would often go unpainted as Wright himself would select different sands with a variety of specs of color, however here we see a layered olive green which would have had several coats building a depth of color you can almost see into rather than just look at. While not an astoundingly attractive color it may have been flamboyant for its time. The woodwork frames the painted wall recognizing the plaster and paint work as an art piece and not just merely a backdrop. 


Natural wood with a stained finish is thoroughly displayed throughout the home. This fireplace is put in a tiny alcove, a little cramped, but would keep the cozy area extra warm in an age where temperature regulation was a chore. “Truth is Life.” it says, “Good Friend, Around these hearth stones speak no evil word of any creature.” A reminder to speak kind words in the home. It reminds me of a print in my own home which we prominently display, “Good Vibes Only”.  


Two commissioned murals find themselves in the Master Bedroom and a children’s play room. After the home was sold the murals were painted over. As part of the restoration process back to the 1909 state, restoration artists removed layers of paint with an exacto knife bringing back to life two works of art packed with meaning and metaphor. In the second mural the abstract figure in the cloud is a genie being summoned. 


An intricate wood piece installed in the ceiling of this room diffused the light source. In many of the rooms lighting is sparse. Today, light and openness is the quest in a home. Not the case with Wright’s first home. Natural lighting seems curbed until we get to the studio addition. 


We took an outside path to the studio where Frank Lloyd Wright built his early legacy. Holding up the entry are crane sculptures guarding diligently the engraving of the house plot. A nice homage to his own handy work. The details are striking. 


Around nine or so drafting tables line the walls of the inner studio where around ten architechts were employed as assistants and apprentices to Wright’s company.  


The structure itself is octagonal in shape and is well lit. The upper balcony is not supported with beams on the ground but rather the framing of the roof holds the balcony floor up with an intricate chain system. Wright had a knack for outpacing the technology of his time and often threw caution to the wind when it came to soundness of structure. Before the restoration, the upper level had been walled off, covered with ceilings and partitioned off into studio apartments; which is quite aggravating to hear. 


Above, you can see the chainlink spun around the ceiling space and the fine woodwork that served to support the weight of the upper balcony.  


Probably my favorite color choice in the entire home was found in the tour of his studio with its gold walls.  


The metallic sheen of the gold brings out every natural inflection of the plaster work giving it depth and authenticity. With the dark wood finish and teal ceramics this room could be right out of a 2018 Color lookbook. 


The gold looks amazing with the wood. It’s so hard to find colors that match wood trim work. I saw this and thought “of course, how come I haven’t thought of this sooner?” 


I left the tour believing that I must bring gold to the people! This house was a special house and some people, like Frank Lloyd Wright are just special people. 

Where to Begin with Decorating a Small Space

Where to Begin with Decorating a Small Space

I just ordered a new book for myself by my favorite author on design, Terence Conran. The book itself is maybe a decade old by now but Conran has never been out of date. The book, How To Live In Small Spaces, walks us through the des ign, furnishing, decoration and detail of living in small homes.

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Why you'll never choose colors without a consultant ever again!

Why you'll never choose colors without a consultant ever again!

I was talking to a fellow contractor friend of mine not too long ago and they told me, "man, our clients could have really used your services". He told me how the customer bought $800 worth of a single paint color and his team got the entire first coat of the project complete (around $2,000 in labor) when the client came in and burst into tears because she hated the color.

There is your reason. Need I say more?

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7 Necessary (but not evil) Exterior Spring Cleaning Projects - Checklist Included

7 Necessary (but not evil) Exterior Spring Cleaning Projects - Checklist Included

Something truly magical happens the day Spring arrives. Bloomington feels different. It's like breathing is fuller and my eyebrows feel lighter. It's finally time to get outside and become a real person again. Unfortunately, the winter has turned your house into the setting of the Walking Dead. It's time to get to work.

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How To Know If Your Exterior Needs Painting

How To Know If Your Exterior Needs Painting

Not all exterior paints are made the same. There are different quality levels that make a real difference in terms of how long a coating will last.  

As a rule of thumb we direct our customers to a higher quality paint that will last a long time and provide a fine finish.  

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Valentine's Day Inspired Pinks - Best Shades of Pink to Paint a Room

Happy Valentine's Day - Let's paint something pink!

Today is a great day for remembering the people we love. In America, 25% of the cards sent each year are Valentine's Day cards. People love emotive cards, decked out in pinks and reds. 

Why is pink and red the color of Valentine's Day? Well, in general reds are associated with passion and pinks associated with flush skin. So, when you feel the warm rush and pitter patter of love, that all too familiar rosy blush surfaces and you know that the feeling is mutual.

Pink Paint Colors great for any room, not just a little girl's bedroom

Wheatberry 2099-70 Benjamin Moore

Wheatberry 2099-70 Benjamin Moore

This light pink paint is called Wheatberry 2099-70 by Benjamin Moore. Kind of a dusty pink; this color is a great choice for girls bedroom ideas, but is muted enough to surprise guests as an appropriate color for an eclectic den space.

You may consider using this pink color in a high gloss on a sliding barn door. I took this idea from a friend of mine who just built their home. I think her husband took a leap of faith with her on it but it paid off big time. Click on the paint drop for more info.

Sea Salt CSP-95 Benjamin Moore

Sea Salt CSP-95 Benjamin Moore

Consider pairing Wheatberry with a light neutral gray like Sea Salt. These two colors would look great together in adjacent rooms. Use Sea Salt for your entry and Wheatberry in a connecting Dining Room for a feminine look that isn't too overwhelmingly pinky.

Gray neutral paint colors anchor more daring color schemes and allow you the flexibility to choose something a little more off-beat.

Spice Market CSP-925 Benjamin Moore

Spice Market CSP-925 Benjamin Moore

Now warm up the palette with Spice Market. This deep gold is strong but won't over shadow your understated pink and grey. Bedrooms, Kitchens and Bathrooms would look dynamic and vibrant when found at the end of our pale pink and light gray path.

Used as an accent color, not on walls, but in furniture. That's where I think this color might find its stride. Add to that the return of brushed brass lamps and table legs and you'll have a home decor look that is current.

Dark Pewter 2122-10 Benjamin Moore

Dark Pewter 2122-10 Benjamin Moore

Last, somewhere in your scheme find room for our boldest choice of all Dark Pewter. Color Theory's Color of the Year. What I love about Dark Pewter is that its just so dark. But it also has this really pretty shade of blue that comes out mid-day.

There is a depth to it that will make your room feel endless, while paradoxically making an oversized room feel smaller and cozier. Paired with any of the other colors in this scheme and you'll have a dramatic, sexy home.


Get help choosing a color scheme for your home by setting an appointment with our Color Theory Consultants.

Kitchen Design - What to do with your Kitchen Cabinets

Coming up with a good kitchen design idea is equal parts fun and overwhelming. Here are a couple of things you can do with paint to overhaul your kitchen without ripping everything out.

Color - White Cabinets

Always a classic look, never going out of style, painting your kitchen or bathroom cabinets white is a clear win for a modern, clean look. White is a little tricky because there are so many shades. However, there are a few colors of note that we really like on cabinets.

First, is Cloud White OC-130, Color Theory's neutral color of the year. Cloud White offers a warmth in a tone of white that avoids sterility and lack of creativity. We find that painting cabinets with a Satin sheen in the Cloud White provides a smooth finish with added durability.

Simply White OC-117 has some of the same aesthetic qualities of Cloud White, yet in certain lighting conditions fares a little better. As a simple test, swing by your local paint store and pick up the two whites and tape them to your kitchen wall side by side and see how you like them over the course of the day. Do the colors change over the course of the day? If so, which color do you like best?

Last, Chantilly Lace OC-65. Chantilly Lace is the chalkiest of the trio. With the first two white paint colors, the warmth in them can sometimes become amplified by incandescent lighting which may be a turn off. The Chantilly Lace doesn't have that problem. While in a natural day light it will exude vibrance and cleanliness, throughout the evening it will maintain a pristine whiteness.


Change up your kitchen island

Going with a more dramatic darker color for your kitchen island will provide your kitchen design with an anchor, contrasting your lighter scheme all around. With the desire for more kitchen cabinet storage, sometimes the kitchen starts to enclose in on itself and it starts to look like some kind of mammoth. Especially if your current cabinets are a wood finish.

Painting your kitchen island just might add the variety you need. This two tone look has become very popular with modern kitchen cabinets.


Where to begin painting cabinets

The most important thing to get right in this process is cabinet paint. You do not want to skimp on paint when it comes to cabinets. The best paint for kitchen cabinets right now is a waterborne alkyd. As paradoxical as it sounds, waterborne alkyds are a somewhat newly formulated product that combines the durability and hardness of an oil based paint with the environmental standards of a water-based latex paint. 

We've had success with the lighter colors with Benjamin Moore Advance. Advance dries very hard but struggles with darker colors because of the amount of colorant necessary. For cabinets going from wood to paint, its best to start with the Advance Primer.


For darker colors and a faster dry time, you may consider Sherwin-Williams Pro Classic. While the Pro Classic doesn't dry quite as hard as the Advance and sometimes requires additional coats in lighter colors, we've still had excellent results with it and air towards using it on our cabinet projects.  Extreme Bond primer is the recommended primer to go with the Pro Classic on cabinets.


Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro?



The decision is up to you on this one. This is definitely an advanced project and one that many DIY'ers report that they probably wouldn't attempt on their own again. The tedious factor is high as well as the elbow grease factor. But the time commitment is doable. More than a single weekend but it's easy enough to break up.

To Learn More about Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets with our DIY Guide to Painting Cabinets

What Kitchen Remodel Ideas do you have? Post in the comments!


How to Start a Painting Project with a Professional Painter

Deciding on whether to paint your house on your own as a weekend DIY project or whether to hire out painting is a big question. When I meet with homeowners they are often weighing out whether it's worth it to pay the premium cost to have it done or if they will be pleased with their own craftsmanship.

Between you and me, if it were my home, I would probably do it myself. But that's not fair because I'm a professional. There are three things to consider when choosing between having your home professionally painted so professionally painted. 

The Pro vs. DIY Debate - The Time VS Money Factor

How long does it take to paint a room? How much does painting cost? Obviously, it depends on the room size but your standard american bedroom will take a professional between 4-6 hours to paint the walls, another 4 for painting trim, doors and windows and an extra 1.5 to 2 to paint the ceilings. This is two coats and basic prep work included.

DIY Pros

If you've got time and patience and you find some catharsis in painting, then you might want to take a stab at it and do it yourself. Most DIY'ers are a little less concerned about perfection when they are trying to save money. With this, you have the flexibility to decide on the fly if things like one coat coverage is sufficient or whether rigid tape lines are going to matter to you as much. Being less picky will allow you to save time on a DIY project. You'll also save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

DIY Cons

The flip side to the time question is, what am I sacrificing by spending my whole weekend or even week painting? Is there an activity you'd rather be doing with the family? Could you make more money in the time that you're painting than the amount that you're saving? Maybe it's a more efficient use of time to be really good at what you do and let the pros be really good at what they do.

So if you're thinking you can knock out an entire room top to bottom in a day, you may want to think about how much time you actually have to block off. If you are just moving into a new home and you have to do multiple rooms, you're looking at a week or two week long project with multiple painters on the job. I hate to say it but your average DIY'er isn't going to have that big of a chunk of time to get the project done. Unless you're willing to spread it out or take use your vacation.

Pro Pros

The plus side to hiring a paint pro is that you don't have to do anything. With a reputable company and trustworthy painters, you don't even need to be home. You can rest assured that your home will be taken care of and that you'll come home to it looking so much better and clean. The small details will be tended to. Straight lines, full rich color with two coats of a high quality paint. You can be picky! We don't mind, too much.

Pro Cons

The honest truth, it does cost money. Typically, the better the craftsman and the more organized the company, the more you will pay. But like we say, "the bitterness of poor workmanship remains long after the sweetness of a good deal is forgotten." A good professional painter is going to know what it takes to get the job done right, without being overly priced. However, many painters who take too long to get back with you on a quote, or guess on their pricing by just "looking at it", are often going to undercharge and as a result under deliver.

So, How do you get started?

The first step is to get a quote. We offer online quotes free and easy. How this works is we take you to our website on our Pricing Page. From there you can get a ballpark idea of what your project would cost per room for the walls. If you'd like trim, windows or doors painted, it's usually best to have one of our consultants come out for measurements. But if you are just trying to get an idea of what it would cost, look on our site and build your project through the shopping cart. If you get stuck you can give us a call and we can help walk you through it.

Once you've got a good idea of what it might cost, then we'll come out to confirm pricing and look at color options. Color Consultations, while they do cost a little extra, are extremely helpful in deciding which colors to coordinate with your home furnishings and decor. From there we book the job with the help of our Production Coordinator. They'll work with you on scheduling through our online system.

While you're waiting your turn in line, we'll make sure to keep you posted on how our schedule is working out. With painting, you can't always work when the weather is bad and so sometimes our schedule gets a little jostled around. No worries though, once we get to your painting project, we are there until it's complete. Super simple, super fun and super exciting.

A Word of Advice...

If you're trying to tackle a project and don't know whether to do it yourself or hire a painter, don't be afraid to ask questions. When we give our paint estimates we split every room out by line items so you can choose which projects you want to do on your own and which you want to hire us to do. We're totally flexible!




Best of Houzz 2017: Press Release

Color Theory of Bloomington

Awarded Best Of Houzz 2017

Over 40 Million Monthly Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building,

Remodeling and Design Professionals in North America and Around the World

Bloomington, IN, January 19, 2017 – Color Theory of Bloomington has won “Best Of Design” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The color-centric painting company was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 40 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2016. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2017” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of  their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

“Torlando has an impeccable eye for detail and elegant design, plus an extremely professional team of artists, (and overall AWESOME people), that completely transformed my home. Very tidy; non-disruptive and genuinely talented group. Nearly every room color was updated and actually looking forward to having them back to update intricate French kitchen cabinetry. Absolutely the best in Bloomington.”
- Color Theory Client

“We’re so pleased to award Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including Color Theory,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

About Color Theory

Color Theory is a company dedicated to helping people love their home through great color and craftsmanship. Beginning in Indiana in 2008, founder Torlando Hakes started Color Theory while pursuing his art degree with nothing more than a backpack and a bicycle. Today Color Theory employs several artists and craftsmen and helps hundreds of customers a year with finding the perfect color match for their home. With proven painting methods and a star team Color Theory will give you the best painting experience in Bloomington.

About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit

Torlando Hakes in Bloomington, IN on Houzz



Painting Dark Pewter

Earthy tones and warm visual details give Edouard Vuillard's Project for the Public Gardes: Le Square de la Trinite a characteristically intimate feel. Though the arrangement of the forms is flat, his eye for the pattern on a woman's slipper and the delicacy of new leaves on a tree establishes a different sort of depth. 

Our second half of this year's Color Combo, Dark Pewter, is interwoven through the greenery. When offset with sienna-tinged oranges and creamy light greens, it displays an unexpected softness.

All colors by Benjamin Moore. Image source: Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide.

Painting White

Paint like a painting.

Since exploring our Color Combo of the Year, we wanted to find some different ways to feature colors we feel passionate about. We especially want to place what we do and what we love at Color Theory in contexts that might not always get discussed in the interior design blogging world.

One of Torlando's strongest beliefs is that paint is not just a color that lays on the wall; it is an integral part of your home and informs the nature of the space you live in. When you paint a wall, you are painting the scene that is your home.



Image via Hyperallergic. All colors Benjamin Moore.  

This week we are sharing a piece by contemporary perceptual painter, Lois Dodd. Soft-spoken, yet emotive, her pared-down visions of the everyday American landscape use color sensitivity to invite meditation. Check out an interview with her here. Her 2014 painting, Porch Roof Snow Pile, feels particularly appropriate given the snow on the ground today and the appearance of one of our colors for 2017: Cloud White. In matte finishes, the hues of this snowy day palette will give your living space a feeling of thoughtful serenity.

Check back next week for another painting and another palette. If you've got a color or painting you'd like us to work with, let us know!

New Year, New Hue(s)

A lot happened in 2016, including a widespread obsession with gray. Versatile, sophisticated, unexpected – Gray did it all. And it continues its evolution heading into 2017.

Introducing our 2017 Color Combo of the Year...Dark Pewter and Cloud White

dark pewter + cloud white.jpg

The combination of Dark Pewter's jade-influenced gray and Cloud White's soothing, but bright, cream occupies the space between dramatic and tranquil. Together, they draw from the best of higher-contrast pairings and unfussy mid-tones — a choice that doesn't involve a trade-off. If you've ever wished you could pick A and B at the eye doctor, Dark Pewter with Cloud White may just satisfy that desire.

dark pewter + cloud white 2.jpg

From Dining Areas...

...To Nurseries...

...Dark Pewter + Cloud White is the perfect match.

Try Cloud White on your Cabinets...

And for a variation on this pairing... 

...darker darks and crisper whites result in an unpredicted airiness. We particularly love Benjamin Moore’s Gentleman’s Gray, pictured on the right. Matched with their Simply White (or any comparably bright white) on ceilings, cabinetry, and trim, Gentleman’s Gray feels on-trend but also attuned to more stately eras of the past.


Articulate and modern...

...Dark Pewter is one of Benjamin Moore's most surprisingly complex offerings. Whether in a whole room, or used as an accent color, Dark Pewter consistently provides the drama of black or deep navy, while maintaining the adaptability that makes more traditional grays so appealing. When paired with Cloud White, it truly settles into itself, giving interiors a sort of introspective sensibility that opens up with the unique warmth of Cloud White. As we move forward into the new year, be on the lookout for this bold next step in gray: high contrast, high impact color pairings. It's a match that is artful indeed.

Edward hopper's iconic nighthawks at the art institute of chicago Image via flickr user steven zucker

Edward hopper's iconic nighthawks at the art institute of chicago

Image via flickr user steven zucker

Dream Clean

My sister is one of those fortunate and unusual types who enjoys cleaning; her home is always neat as a pin. For the rest of us, news of Color Theory's new cleaning service is something of a Christmas gift.


The Color Theory Clean Team is more than a post-painting clean up service. Committed to eco-friendly, yet thorough, cleaning solutions, our clean team will leave your home sparkling and leave you with a rewarding customer experience.

We use environmentally responsible products, giving you peace of mind. Essential Oils are another key element in our cleaning services. We can even work with you to select aromas that suit the personality of your home.


Who Is the Clean Team?

Our employees are selected for not just their skill, but their work ethic and dedication as well. The Color Theory Clean Team also believes in mentoring its employees, fostering entrepreneurial engagement. If you love your home-cleaner, let us know and we can send this person to you again. A personal relationship with the Clean Team is yet another way we make our services a wonderful experience.

Check Out the Clean Team

Swing by the Clean Team's site to get an estimate today!