Just as room plans need to be a true representation of the room in miniature, it is important for sample boards to reflect the right mix and balance of colors and materials in a scheme. When making a sample board, try to position samples according to their location in the room: for instance, carpet at the bottom of the board, wall and curtain samples near the top and furnishing samples in the middle.
It is also good to gauge the size of the sample according to the size of area it will cover in the room: for example, your wall covering sample should be much larger than your cushion fabric sample.
Artist’s mounting board of A2 size (about 45 x 60 cm / lft 6in x 2ft) forms an ideal base for your display of samples, though any neutral-colored board of a similar size could be substituted. Simply attach the sample squares to the board – double-sided tape is the easiest method – and label each one with its purpose, ‘curtain fabric’, ‘floor coverings’ and so on.
If it helps you to visualize the finished room, include any other items that will form part of the scheme, such as illustrations of ceiling fans, light fittings and furniture. It is also a good idea to label each board with its room title, especially if you are decorating a whole house.
When your board is complete, you will be quite surprised how well it represents the finished scheme – the mix of colors, the number of textural contrasts and array of patterns all working together. Any anomalies or imbalance should show up now. Perhaps your scheme is too dark or too bland. Perhaps it has too few shiny surfaces or too many patterns. All these elements and more will be demonstrated in your sample board and can be corrected at this early inexpensive stage.
As a back-up to your sample board, or when there is insufficient time to prepare a board, there is another system of recording a scheme that professionals use. It is referred to as a scheme sheet and is, in essence, a mini sample board. This scheme color reference system will fit neatly into a file and can be taken with you on shopping trips. Unlike the sample board, it requires little artistry and can be made up in no time at all.
The scheme sheet consists of a form, which can be easily drawn up by hand or produced on a personal computer and which slots into a plastic file. This can then be filed in a letter size ring binder and transported wherever you like. Simply fill in the title of the room at the top of the page and below add in each surface you are going to represent by a sample.
In the centre column write any information you consider relevant to describe me finish or material in question, In the last column attach a small sample of the material described. In the case of a patterned material, select a section that shows as many colors as possible – a larger sample can always be kept within a sleeve of clear plastic. And there you have it: a useful sample board in miniature.