Balancing Color, Pattern, and Neutral

August 21, 2017 § Leave a comment

wm-james-carriere-martha-angus-katie-mccaffrey-breakfast-nook-0917Breakfast Nook

There is so much to love about this breakfast nook (designed by Martha Angus and Katie McCaffrey), I’m going to dive right in.

What’s to Love?

-The light gray walls. By staying with a light cool neutral on the wall color, you allow the pops of warm vibrant color to do just that: pop.

-The simple breakfast nook construction in the same wall color. What happens? The banquette disappears making the room look bigger and less chopped up.

-The wood floor. No doubt it carries throughout the public space making the whole house feel open and unified.

-The table from Paris (yeah, I know). The point is that the table is a unique piece and it’s not only functional but a conversation piece and a memory back to a really nice trip.

-The black and white print. Sure, you can add a vibrant picture there, but the neutral wall hanging allows the colors to take center stage. And they do.

-The yellow leather cushion. It’s yellow but in a fabric that’s easy to wipe up. Essential.

-And those pillows! In colors that coordinate with each other but refuse to look matchy-matchy. (And you just know that the rest of the house pulls colors from that lovely summer palette.)

Take Home Message:

If you want to show off color (or many colors), don’t overdo it. Leave spots empty and devoid of pattern for the eye to rest. And pick a palette of colors (5 is a good number) that you can carry throughout the house in various ways — wall color, furniture, art. The result will be a home that is balanced, unified, has flow from room to room, and that makes you happy every time you open the door.

 

 

From Grays to Happy

May 2, 2017 § Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gray has been the wall color of choice for public spaces in the home for a number of years now, and don’t get me wrong, gray is a wonderful neutral to replace the beiges of the previous trend. But you have to admit, gray is not for everybody. And if you live in a dark home with small windows and low ceilings, painting the walls gray might have been a real downer.

Never fear! Color to the rescue! Here are a few ways to make sure your gray room escapes the wrath of a couple of gallons of primer and a roller:

-Make all trim white. That is the best way to keep the gray clear and crisp.

-Make the ceiling bright ultra white. That will reflect the maximum amount of light back into the room.

-Add bright clear color. Bedding, accessories, a rug, and accent furniture (for example, as we see above in the room from Williams Sonoma Home) will help the gray perform its duty as a neutral backdrop instead of becoming the storm cloud in the room.

Add sparkle. Whether it’s a silver lamp, a crystal chandelier, or some new gold in a brass picture frame, adding metal and glass will provide the finishing touch to the room. Reflective finishes bounce light — like jewelry!

So if your gray walls are bringing you down, don’t despair. Add Color. (You knew I’d say that.)

 

 

 

My Dream Living Room

March 26, 2017 § 2 Comments

Fireplaceart

What makes a living room dreamy? Here’s what works for me.

  • A fireplace mantel that can anchor a beautiful inspirational piece of art. This one, “Wild Orange Sherbet” by J.P. Prior, does it for me. Even the name makes me happy.
  • A big comfy sofa. I’ve always wanted a curved sofa (this one from Arhaus) as it invites conversation. People tend to sit down and talk with each other instead of staring at the TV (which, you might note, is absent from my dream living room).ArhausSofa10
  • Neutral major pieces. I chose Taft Pewter for the upholstery color because it goes beautifully with the stone around the fireplace, and the color won’t grow tiring. Even if pillows come and go with new color trends, the sofa’s soft, sophisticated neutrality will endure.
  • A rug thatColombe Flatweave Floral Rug will further define the conversation area
    and be cozy underfoot.
    This neutral coordinates with the sofa and doesn’t detract from the focal point of the room.
  • An ottoman is
    Butler36OttEspressoan absolute must as it beckons you to put your feet up and relax. With a tray on top, an ottoman serves as a hard surface for drinks and snacks.
  • A pair of perky chairs (opposite the sofa) yellowpillowschairto round out the conversation area and yell “Surprise!” when somebody enters the room. Everybody needs at least one chair in their favorite color.
  • Pillowsorangepillows that pull the whole color palette together and come in different sizes and textures and may be swapped out seasonally if you like. OC23classicgray
  • Finally, a pretty paint color that provides a backdrop for the room but does not compete with anything for attention. For this room, I chose Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray, OC23.

The whole idea of my Dream Living Room is to set a happy, relaxed tone for the house in a classic and timeless style that won’t look too dated when the next big trend comes along. Keeping the bones of the room classic (hardwoods, architectural details) and the expensive pieces timeless (sofa and large furniture) allows you to play with chairs and accessories and art and have fun.

Create a dream living room in your home. Ahhhh… I like dreaming.

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Sources: Art (“Wild Orange Sherbet” by J.P. Prior). Mantel (MantelCraft). Sofa (Arhaus.com for other living room inspirations). Rug (Arhaus.com). Ottoman (Arhaus.com). Armchair (Dot&Bo). Pillows: Yellow (Fine Art America), Damask (Wayfair), Lumbar Pillow (Pier 1 Imports). Paint: Benjamin Moore, Classic Gray OC23.

 

Happy Color for 2017

January 5, 2017 § Leave a comment

The New Year creates an opportunity for change. Whether it’s a phammocksledge to drop a few pounds, move the body more, or clear out the clutter, January is Change Month. And around here, I am ready to change color.

Not that I wasn’t crazy for color before, but fresh, clear color screams enthusiasm, optimism, and hope for great things. My nuanced, subtle, neutral palette looks dreary and tired. It is ready for a color boost to the happy side.

What does that mean for my decorating aesthetic? Not repainting my entire house and dragging all the furniture to Goodwill. Rather, a move to throw in a few color “punches” by switching out pillows on the sofa and adding some art and accessories.  The hammocks are such an inspiration (from our famiOrangePouf.pngly trek to New Orleans over the holidays). And check out this orange Moroccan pouf my sister gave me for my birthday. I adore the color orange because it’s always a happy color — she knows that.

So if you are looking for a jolt of positivity in your life this January of 2017, try adding color and see if it helps your outlook on life. (Good coffee will help too!) Have a Colorful New Year, my friends!

 

Adding POPS of Color — Orange

October 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

OrangeTree.jpgIs there any color happier than orange? Okay, full disclosure. Orange — that special red-orange that you see on maple trees in the Fall in New England — is my favorite color. I don’t wear it, but I love looking at it.

Fall is a wonderful time to add a touch of orange to your home. Go all in with a peppery accent wall in a guest bedroom. Or go easy with a few orange candles on the mantle. I like to switch out my light blue throw pillows on the sofa for orange this time of year. Keeping my sofa neutral lets me do that, and on that first chilly October day, orange pillows warm the room instantly.
peppery
What goes with orange? If you want energy, blue (like SW Indigo).indigosw Just look at the sky in the photo and how those two complementary colors work off each other. If you want a bit more calm in the room, use a warm gray as a back drop, like the fence in the photo (and SW Dorian Gray).

doriangrayswAnother way to add orange without switching out your furniture and paint color is to introduce a large framed photo of Fall colors. I like to stick with the season we’re in so the photo would come down in the winter and be replaced by a cozy winter scene. Seasonal changes keep the room looking vibrant and fresh.

If all those ideas and colors are still over the top, there’s always squash soup and pumpkin-spice muffins. Sometimes a little color on the dinner table is all you need to enjoy the autumn season.

Stay cozy, my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Torn Between Two Paint Hues

September 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

Gray Owl

Gray Owl, Ben Moore

As a home stager, I suggest a lot of paint colors as I help to prepare homes for the real estate market. And by and large, grays are what sells these days. Young buyers grew up with Linen White and seem now to cringe at wall colors with a yellow base. But is gray right for your house?

If you live in an area where the weather is cloudy for much of the time or your house is nestled in the shade, then a gray interior is only going to make your visual life grayer. If you want a fresh gray interior, here’s my advice:

  • Make sure you have tons of natural light — big windows with as much light as you can get streaming in the window. That will allow you to see the gray as a distinct, intentional color and not as a shadow of a different color. You know how white and other colors can appear gray in the corners of a room? That’s what I’m talking about. You’ve chosen Gray. So show it off.
  • Add white for trim — that will make the gray pop and will avoid any semblance of dinginess. For Pete’s sake, you don’t want your house to look dirty.
  • Add some warm color — pillows, a chair, artwork. Just for contrast and to add some warmth when needed. Yellow looks spectacular with gray.
  • Pick a warm gray if you live in a cold climate or your room faces North.
  • Pick a cool gray for a warmer climate or a room facing South. The color of the light and the season will influence how your room looks. If the room looks cold, chances are that it will feel cold in there too.
  • Add wood texture to warm the room. A hardwood floor and other natural wood tones in the room will look sensational against a backdrop of gray.
Linen White

Linen White

If gray is not for you but you want to get away from the Linen White look from decades past, try one of these halfway gray paint colors. They are warm but not too yellow and will move you in the gray direction without making your house too cool. Now let’s get painting!

Gray Mist

Gray Mist (BM)

Maritime White

Maritime White (BM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

SW Color of the Year 2017

September 2, 2016 § 4 Comments

poised taupe SW 6039OKay then! If you hang around long enough…(as they say…)

Taupe is back. The color we’ve spent the last decade ridding our houses of is now Sherwin Williams’ Color of the Year for 2017. Poised Taupe is the color — SW 6039 — and you have to love the description:

“Earthen brown combines with conservative grey and the result is a weathered, woodsy and complex neutral that celebrates the imperfections and authenticity of a well-lived life.” — Anytime somebody celebrates imperfections, I’m in!

But here’s what you should know about taupe. It can change radically with the light and the time of day. What looks a little brown can turn pink, purple, or green depending not only on the time of day but also on the lightbulb. Just so you know. Taupe can have a pink undertone as well that clashes horribly with the orange of a red oak hardwood floor. Another caution. But paired with white like its fan deck sibling Gauzy White SW 6035, a silver metal (not gold or brass), hardwood with a gray undertone, and fabrics in other light neutrals with a pink undertone like Cultured Pearl SW 6028, and you truly have a soft, restful combination that harkens back to those glorious. taupe-filled 50s. That’s 1950s!

Personally, I’m going to ride this one out, but I can appreciate how we’re moving from the grays into the taupes (without the yellow undertone of a previous color swing). Like I tell my clients, just because it’s the Color of the Year does not mean it’s perfect for your house. If you are considering taupe, make sure you have a lot of natural light coming in the window and (hopefully) some modern furnishings, shiny metals and glass. Try to avoid pairing with cherry wood. If you have concerns, talk to me!

Meanwhile, let’s get painting.

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