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Decorate With Color (& Confidence!)

Decorate With Color (& Confidence!)
April 2010

(Opener photo by Brie Williams; design by Angel Roberts)

Do your rooms pale in comparison to Spring’s bright, cheery shades? Awaken your palette! Here’s how:

1. Cue Your Hues Simply put, know your favorite colors. If you need a refresher, take a look through your closet, walk through a garden or two, hit an art gallery; note the colors you’re drawn to and find corresponding color cards to bring with you when you shop.

Photograph by Terry Kuzniar









2. Invest Wisely Have a recent fascination with a color, but unsure if it’ll last past this season? Color regret often stems from going with a trend, not a feeling. But that doesn’t mean you have to ignore fads completely. Work these hues into your design scheme through inexpensive items like lampshades, covers for throw pillows, vases, and other accessories. Save your big-ticket purchases for colors that have lasted past a season.

3. Get Art Smart Find vibrant pieces you love first for the image or feeling and then play off the colors. Is gallery art out of your budget? Framing up a series of cheery wallpaper or fabric panels is an inexpensive solution you can do yourself. Or, begin a collection from up-and-comer artist friends or vintage finds.

Photograph by Brie Williams







4. Download a Cheat Sheet Unsure whether tangerine will play well with your favorite fail-safe backdrop of olive green? Troll fabric or wallpaper websites like Osborne & Little, Pierre Frey, Purl Soho, and others to find bright patterns that incorporate your starter color. Note the accent colors that go well with your favorite neutrals. (Below is Tangerine Pocketbook from Freespirit Fabrics by Nicey Jane.

Image courtesy of



5. Color, Repeat For maximum impact without overtaking the space, incorporate a favorite shade into repeating items. Bar stools, pendant lighting, and wall frames make good platforms for color.

Photograph by Brie Williams


6. Balance Your Bold Don’t cluster color too heavily on one side of the room or another, particularly if the rest of the space is neutral territory. Balancing bright shades throughout the room unifies the space, rather than breaking it up.

7. Go One Color at a Time Start with a single trustworthy color, rather than a rainbow of hues, and begin incorporating it into your room. For example, what makes the room at right work is a single, dominant turquoise that lights up the whole space, while the others serve as accents.

Photograph by Brie Williams; design by Angel Roberts

8. Paint Your World Paint is an easy, inexpensive, and fail-safe way to inject color. There’s no rule saying you can’t paint over it if you don’t like it. On walls, get samples of three to five hues and paint large sample swatches side by side. Leave these up for several weeks and make notes of which you like best, and how they respond to available light. On furniture, one piece in a knockout hue is enough to give an entire room color cred, and often serves as a jumping off point for adding vibrant, complementary accessories. Want to dial up the drama but not the color? Use a super high gloss paint.

9. Accent, Accent, Accent Paint or paper interior shelving in a color that contrasts adjacent walls. Coat wood floors in a cheery hue (apple green in the kitchen, red in the playroom) or paint waist-high cupboards or kitchen islands.

10. Just Add Water Fresh flower arrangements make great accessories. Look for bright yellow forsythia or rich Eastern redbuds for high-impact tall arrangements, or monochromatic bunches of daffodils, hydrangeas, and roses offer more traditional focal points.

Photograph by Julia Lynn; design by Evon Kirkland Interiors