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.

 

 

Wallpaper: Timeless or Trendy?

March 18, 2016 § 1 Comment

original_44-gatti-secret-image-wallpaperWallpaper continues to make design headlines as it rolls back into our homes. From half baths to bedrooms and dining rooms, we’re seeing it in almost every room. If you have an older home that always had wallpaper, then this is no big deal. But for some of us who have enjoyed plain neutral walls throughout, this wallpaper trend is a bit scary.

Here are some guidelines:

  1. Start Small. See how you like color and pattern on a small area before committing yourself to a big project. Try papering an accent wall in your office or guest bedroom. Or even wallpaper a table top for fun. Small projects are easier to undo or live with than full-room projects. Or break the rules: Dive in and wallpaper your dining room above the chair rail. You’ll love the dramatic change.
  2. Scale matters. Select a large scale pattern for a large area. That will keep the wallpaper looking contemporary and not left over from a different design era. Or break the rules: If you love the look of small flowers in a guest bedroom, then who’s stopping you.
  3. Love it. Wallpaper is a little more permanent than a coat of paint. So you should really love the paper you select. Stay in your home’s color palette and choose something that will coordinate with adjoining rooms. Or break the rules: If you really love foil, then it’s only wallpaper. Go for it. Make your home yours.
  4. Give the walls their stardom. Since you’ve wallpapered the walls, we presume you want people to notice them so back off on the other patterns in your room to let the wallpaper take center stage. Using a neutral sofa in front of a patterned wall keeps the pattern from overwhelming the room. Or break the rules: The latest trend is mixing lots of patterns together to give a room personality. Try to stay in the same color family to avoid room overload. But again, if you love it and it’s you, then own it.
  5. Take a deep breath. Before making that decision to wallpaper your bedroom ceiling, channel your interior decorator within. Realize that unless you are restoring an historic home to its original wallpapered grandeur, wallpaper for the rest of us is yet another design trend. In 7-10 years, you may very well hate it. So be prepared to undo the trendy foil damask in your half bath. Especially if you are planning to sell your home anytime soon. Wallpaper is what we call taste-specific. Potentially you may be the only one who sees it as timeless. Just an FYI. Or break the rules: Live for TODAY!! Enjoy your wallpapered ceiling and deal with it later.

 

Photo: This lovely wallpaper is 44 Gatti Secret Image (available at http://www.notonthehighstreet.com).

Green Decorating: The Soothing Hue

March 17, 2016 § Leave a comment

St. Patrick’s Day brings us to thoughts of green. Whether it’s kelly green or any of the variations thereof, green is a versatile, natural hue that brings life and comfort to any room. It is particularly nice in rooms where you spend time revitalizing  your mind and body.

Waking up in a green room warms a cold, white, snowy day and cools a hot, humid summer morning. It can bring the color of lush plants and trees to a city skyline view. And it can calm an agitated, overextended lifestyle at the end of another hectic day.

Green can be either warm (yellow-green) or cool (blue-green), and both pair beautifully with white. Coordinating accent colors can add energy (the complementary reds and pinks, opposites to green on the color wheel) or quiet blending (the analogous yellows and blues on either side of green on the color wheel).

I highly recommend adding green, even a mixture of greens, to your home to quiet and soothe your soul. Wherever you need a few moments of ahhhhhhh.

Paint colors above: Top left to right: Waterscape  SW 6470, Topiary Tint SW 6449, Honeydew SW 6428, Breaktime SW 6463. Bottom left to right: BM Guilford Green HC-116, Palisades Park BM 439, High Park BM 467, Dartsmouth Green BM 691.

 

 

 

Making a House Color Splash

March 15, 2016 § Leave a comment

I have driven past this house for years and every time, I do a double take. Situated next toIMG_4763 a busy roadway, there is nowhere to stop, get out of the car, and snap a decent photo. But that does not deter me.

The red brick wall is not part of the yard. And who cares about it anyway. It is the roof color and the coordinating front door in a spectacular (guessing here) Starry Night Blue (BM 2067-20) that grabs our attention. The rest of the trim is a quiet brown taken right from the brick. We don’t even notice the window trim at all, and that’s the point.

starrynightblue

The roof looks like Vermont Mottled Purple slate, but honestly I have no idea. All I can say is that this house creates, in its traditional neighborhood, a huge House Color Splash. Kudos! And I cannot wait to drive by again.

Don’t forget about the roof color when you are planning your exterior color scheme. It is absolutely fine to keep it neutral, but if you have the personality to withstand the gawking passersby if you decide to add color to the roof, then go for it. Just remember to tie it into the rest of the house with shutters and/or front door to match. I will thank you.

 

 

 

 

Change Your Front Door Color

February 8, 2016 § 2 Comments

IMG_3604Driving through a little town recently, I glanced around as usual, admiring architecture, making a mental note about what color combinations to try and which ones really do not work, and generally looking for color and design inspiration. One house called out to me as I cruised by — quickly I made a U-turn and headed back for a closer look. Like a beacon of happiness, the bright, sunny, yellow door popped off the crisp, white house with black roof and shutters. What a stunning house to drive home to every day.

February seems to bring thoughts of Spring and those quick and easy, yet big-bang-for-the-buck house projects. And the front door color is one of them. If you’re tired of black or red for the front door, and particularly if you have a white house, there is no reason to keep the status quo. Shake it up. What is your favorite color? What color are your spring flowering shrubs? What color does your front door want to be? (Okay, that last one may be a bit weird, but you get it.)

Guidelines for choosing a new front door color:

  1. Make sure that new color shows up at least two other places in the front yard, for example, in the landscape plants, flower pots, patio umbrella, or other accessories.
  2. Consider a brighter sheen for a softer paint color. That will add life and a little pizzazz to a color that doesn’t stand out too much on its own.
  3. Realize that if your front door is under a porch overhang, the color of the door will darken. Go a bit brighter unless, of course, you get full afternoon sun shining on the door. In that case, go a bit darker.
  4. Give yourself choices. Try three different colors and look at them at different times of the day and in different weather conditions. Don’t rush the decision.

So this year, while you’re skimming through seed catalogues and planning your Spring garden colors, choose a new front door color too. You’ll love how it brightens your spirits.

 

From Color Inspirations to Paint

February 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

Walking into a pottery shop is like immersing yourself in a box of crayons, all pristine and unbroken with endless possibilities of combinations.

bluedishesThis set of dazzling bowls caught my eye. Mesmerizing is how I’d describe them with an array of blues from turquoise to cornflower. (The dishes are mine now.)

Whatever the inspiration, there is a paint project waiting. In my mind’s eye driving home, I see these dishes in a dining room painted any one of the colors with crisp white trim. Maybe even a shiny white bead board around the wainscoting to bring out the hues in the room. I can also see any one of these colors on the walls in a kitchen with white cabinets and a white subway tile backsplash. Or maybe one of these colors for the backsplash! (Head is spinning with ideas.)

Accent walls give us a way to add a small amount of color drama to the focal area of a room without painting everything. Especially nice in open-floor-plan spaces where walls may incorporate several rooms. How about one of these rich hues for your front door? Spring painting is right around the corner. (Ben Moore’s Calypso Blue, Bermuda Blue, and Deep Mulberry)

Let the color in front of you and surrounding you inspire you. Wrap yourself up in it. Do something for yourself and create a happy house. It’s just paint!

 

 

 

Got Personality? Show It

January 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

What does your room say about you? Designer Jeffery Bilhuber (House Beautiful, Feb 2016) infused a boatload of personality and let us know a few other things as well. What this room shouts to me:gallery-living-room-1

  • Forget about symmetry. Mismatched end tables are way more interesting than a set.
  • Go ahead and mix woods. We acquire furniture from our parents, we find treasures at a flea market, and sometimes pieces have sentimental value. Use them — even if they don’t “match” your decor.
  • Add your favorite color to the room. And if you don’t have a favorite, use several. If you keep the colors at the same “hue value” (lightness or darkness of a color), they mix well together.
  • Function is important. Don’t forget that you need to set your wine glass down.
  • Forget matchy-matchy. This designer has taken that declaration over the top by using two different window shade colors. Bold and impetuous design choice there, but again, the room screams,”I want to be different.” And I applaud that.
  • Let color speak in the room by creating a neutral backdrop from which the color can “pop.” Here, the light gray walls and the neutral woven rug give the eye a rest.
  • Flowers and the little accessory details finish the room. Without them the room can look cold and staged (too many, of course, and you have a clutter zone).
  • Texture matters. That sofa looks so soft. Adding warmth and texture with pillows can warm up anything, even leather.

Bottom line: You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t just follow the design trends. Let your room reflect who you are and what you love.

 

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