Each week Mansion Global tackles an interior design topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week we look at ways to decorate with bold colors.
Neutrals always have their place, but decorating your home with vibrant pops of color can really bring it to life.
“Color has an immediate effect on mood—the ability to calm or invigorate—and creates energy and depth of field,” said Jean-Michel Gathy, principal designer for Denniston, a multi-disciplinary firm based in Malaysia. “It’s a powerful thing, and used intelligently, it can be a beacon for inspiration.”
“Color can be used to enhance or transform an existing space,” said designer Christine Markatos Lowe of Christine Markatos Design in Santa Monica, California.
“Conceptualize the entire space and come up with a palette before you make any decisions,” said Paris Forino of Paris Forino Interior Design in New York City. “Try not to do things piecemeal – have a vision, develop that vision, and then go shopping.”
There’s a world of hues to choose from, but knowing how to accent and temper, work with proportions, and keep the eye interested is key.
Here, more tips from the pros to color your world.
Balance the palette
“It’s a good idea to look at colors you gravitate toward, in the space you want to use them, at all times of day, especially during the times you expect to be in the space. As the light changes, often it affects your perception. Green is a particularly sensitive color to light. It can look almost sallow when in a dark room, but comes alive with the sunshine.
"Select your base colors from neutrals such as white, greige, pale blue-green, and silvery pink. These tend to work best as backdrops and offset the vibrancy of bolder shades. You can also use neutrals to cool or warm accordingly. For example, if you love lemon yellow but are concerned it may be too bright to live with, try softening the tone by mixing it with sage green and lavender with gray undertones. By keeping your ground colors neutral, you can also change the brighter accent shades over time to keep your look fresh. Some recent favorites for accent hues include indigo, gunmetal, and coral.
"The other thing to consider with the colors you choose is how they work throughout visible spaces. In my own home, I have threads of blue that run throughout. When you first walk into the entry, there’s a vintage khotan with shades of denim blue; from there you can see watery blue accents in the living room. As you walk through the living room, there is an adjacent den where the blue shifts to aqua in a vintage rug and so on.”
— Christine Markatos Lowe, Christine Markatos Design, Santa Monica, California
Consider the colors carefully
“To keep your space feeling calm and harmonized, stick to no more than three colors. Otherwise the room may look busy and confusing.
Photography Courtesy of Missoni Baia
"Working with contrasting hues can be really fun and energize the area. You have to be very careful and restrained with your selections, though. Keep the bolder shades to things like decorative accessories, artwork, trim, and accent chairs. Then use neutral colors for the largest parts of the room, like the furniture or walls, so that the overall effect feels balanced. You know the proportions are right when the elements are the focal point your eye is drawn to, and they are matched with a calm, serene background. If everything is one color, then there is a lack of interest and balance. Alternatively, if everything is a different color, then you lack harmony and calmness in the space.
"Complementary hues, however, are a more straight-forward option and easier to get right.
"Regardless of the color route you take, be careful of scale and style when it comes to patterns. Make sure both the scale and style of the patterns complement each other rather than compete. You need to match a small-scale with a medium or large-scale pattern to create a hierarchy so the patterns do not compete. For a city pied-à-terre, which is very handsome and sophisticated, we paired a large navy and grey stripe on a sofa with a small, densely woven geometric pattern on a nearby ottoman. The stripe and the dense geometric pattern were of a similar style so they were telling the same story.”
— Paris Forino, Paris Forino Interior Design, New York City
— Mansion Global (@MansionGlobal) June 9, 2017
Play with proportion
“The amount of one color you use versus another depends on the size of the space itself. Large spaces create different perception of light, so using more of a bold, saturated hue would work here, since it will look a bit different around the room. On principle, however, the more you use one color, the more you’ll tire of it, so the more saturated the shade, the less you’d want to use it, and the lighter, more muted the shade, the more you’d use it. Proportion is the secret, really, not quantity.
Photography Courtesy of Denniston International
"This is especially true when working with different patterns. Be careful not to over-mix patterns, otherwise they’ll start to compete with each other. Offset patterns with neutral breaks to create balance so the eye isn’t challenged. For example, if you have busy, multi-colored pillows, opt for a more streamlined geometrical rug in black and white or tones of beige. Grounding the room with neutrals means you can add colorful highlights in the way of pillows, throw blankets, and rugs.
"The beauty of decorating a home is that each room can look and feel distinctive, so you can use a different color scheme in every space if you choose. The trick is to create cohesiveness by choosing complementary colors where rooms connect.
— Jean-Michel Gathy, Denniston, Malaysia
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