Designers share tips for bringing more color into your home
But rest assured: even the most color-shy people don’t have to be forever banished to a home filled with different shades of beige. Gannon and other designers say there are lots of ways to become more receptive to using bright colors — without going overboard. Whether you’re working with a professional or revamping your space on your own, here are some tips to keep in mind before committing to that fuchsia powder room.
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Make a list of your favorite colors. Before embarking on a new project, Denver-based designer Nadia Watts asks her clients which shades are right for them. “With this information, I will stretch [clients’] comfort zones by suggesting colors just outside the familiar zone,” she says. She highlights the nuances in the colors, “so [clients] are able to digest and sustain movement in that direction. Not working with a pro? Just head to your local paint store, where you can check out a range of colors. “Say you’re done with gray and ready for a change,” Watts says. “Gray usually has a cool undertone, so start looking at blues that have some green in them. You can always lighten or darken the spectrum, depending on how dramatic you want your room to be.
If you’re having trouble determining your favorite shades, take a look inside your closet. “If there’s a color or color family that you seem to like wearing a lot, that gives you a good indication of what colors you’ll like to have in your home,” says designer Emma Kemper, owner of New York-based Emma Beryl. York. Interiors.
Start small. Designers agree that the gradual introduction of small, non-permanent pieces is a good way to dip your toes into a more colorful design. Try incorporating throw pillows, accessories and art with vibrant hues. “Adding these elements helps get a person used to seeing color,” says Los Angeles designer Linda Hayslett of LH.Designs. “Then, after a while, start adding more into the mix.”
Try a bedding refresh. Kemper particularly likes to introduce color into a space with bedding. “A bed takes up so much space in your bedroom and is a perfect canvas for layering rich colors, textures and patterns,” she says. “An empty white bed often feels like a hole in the middle of a space to me and that’s a missed opportunity.”
Take a balanced approach. If you’re considering incorporating a vibrant upholstered piece into your space, remember that balancing bolder colors with more muted shades is key, says Gannon. “Think of a movie: there are a few stars of the show and supporting actors. All of them are important to make the play a success,” she says. Gannon suggests opting for a forest green sofa, for example, and tie in softer hues, plus a few patterned pillows, to keep it from being overwhelming.
Be careful with the paint. If you want to coat the walls with color, consider taking a more subtle approach first. “Introducing vibrant paint colors can be done on a smaller scale, with half-painted walls and doors painted a bright hue,” says Molly Torres Portnof of Brooklyn-based Date Interiors.
Additionally, designers often recommend being bold in smaller or less frequently used spaces. The powder room is a great place to introduce bright colors into the home, says Sydney Markus, designer at Anthony Wilder Design/Build in Cabin John, Md. “Because a powder room is a small space, it it’s easier to take a risk and add color and pattern for dramatic impact,” she says. “Also consider wallpaper, which is affordable in such a small space.”
Also, while Markus likes to design serene neutral primary bedrooms, she takes more chances with color in guest rooms. “You want to incorporate a color that lasts for many years, a color that has longevity, unlike a guest room, where you can take more color risks and change it like a hotel room,” says- she.
What if you change your mind on the line? Don’t worry, because the paint is easy to repair. “Go ahead and take the leap,” Watts says. “It’s just paint, and you can always touch up.”
Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and stylist in New York. Find her on Instagram: @sarahlyon9.