As a vocally avid lover of color, pattern, and traditional décor, as a woman whose wardrobe has black within it least of all, the most common remark I hear when visitors enter my home is how soothing it is. I think therein lies the biggest misconception about color.
I do believe that once you instinctively understand color theory (or have the privilege of hiring someone who does), a color dwelling can feel as soothing as an all-neutral home. Colorful décor doesn’t have to be layered or loud or chaotic or daring or trendy; it can be nuanced and refined, which is how I personally like it.
Here are some of my fundamentals when working with color and pattern:
1.Utilize subtle color to create warmth in a space. My mother thinks I didn’t see the gulp she made when I told her that the ceilings throughout our entire home would be light pink, or that my office ceiling would be buttercream yellow. Once installed, though, the color was subtle enough that it did its job of adding depth and warmth. The pink ceilings read as creamy white in most lights, and my office ceiling is a true yellow only when all the lights blaze on. There are layers to the colors that create that subtlety, that cause you to look twice and not fully know why it feels “so cozy”!
2. Even for a maximalist, more is not always more. Restraint is more impactful than creating palettes with abandon. In one of my daughter’s bedrooms, there is a dusty pink floral wallpaper, and we painted all the doors and moldings in a light brown with hints of pink in it. While you may have thought I’d go for a contrasting color on the color wheel, monochrome can be your best friend when designing bold spaces. Here, utilizing restraint and choosing a focal point with a palette that bleeds into the rest of the room creates a thoughtful space.
3. Your home palette should feel like different chapters in a storybook. In that bedroom, we pulled from the wallcovering’s floral colors to choose bed linens, bed fabric, rugs, and lighting. If I described the colors in middle of the process, my sisters would glance at each other in that universal sister expression that says, “Are you going to say something to Rivki, or should I?” Yet, when walking through once the space was complete, they kept repeating: “This is so soothing! This somehow feels like a neutral space.” Much of that was because the same colors were recurring throughout the room — and throughout my house. The eye feels relaxed.
4. Pair small scale patterns with larger scale patterns. If you didn’t know, now you know.
5. Layering is the key to timeless design using pattern. Textures like divots in the flooring, a rippling effect in the tiles, or a detail within the cabinetry create the weighty foundation for your patterns.
Editor, Family Room
My personal, perfect color palette, with the quirky use of vegetables as décor (my ideal way to decorate!), makes this my favorite tablecloth.
This vase is showstopping enough that even without flowers in it, its décor purpose is served.
Wide Jumony Vase
This portable table lamp comes in that just-dusty-enough blue and various other colors, like a deep mustard. I love the covered bulb and the monochrome factor here.
Flowerpot VP9 portable table lamp
This console is the perfect canvas for colorful decorative accessories and flowers.
Amelia Scalloped Wicker Table
(Originally featured in Family Room, Issue 30)
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