Give Me Just a Little Color, and I’ll Let You Have Your Beige

Posted 9 July 2016 at 9:45 PM | Comments (0)

I know.

I know you’re trapped in your beige living room. Beige carpet, beige sofa, beige armchair. Or maybe it’s a cross between beige and gray (greige). Whatever you call it, it’s a lot of neutral and zero personality.

A friend in Dallas e-mailed me a picture of her very beige living room and asked for armchair suggestions. But you can’t send me a picture like that and expect one measly little armchair! She needed more than an armchair. She needed color.

So I made it super easy. The terracotta armchair below is so muted that it’s practically a neutral. To keep it sunny and joyful, I added some muted yellow accents, and to bring in glamour and shine, I added gold.

Classy and Neutral Terracotta and Corn Yellow Home Decor Inspiration Board

Now wasn’t that easy? Terracotta, corn yellow, and gold don’t go very far out of a beige comfort zone. This color combination is super palatable, and it looks great in Texas. So, y’all ready to embrace color?

Pillows for a Bold, Oversize-Floral Rug

Posted 11 July 2012 at 2:54 PM | Comments (0)

My friend, Heather, just bought this bold, floral rug from Overstock and a brown leather sectional. Now in the market for throw pillows, she came to me for advice.

I advised her against too many solid pillows, which can look blocky, and too many shiny fabrics/sequins, which, when overdone, can look cheap instead of glam.

Instead, I encouraged her to think contrast. An earthy or nubby pillow can look great against a soft, silky one; a stripe can look great against an ikat.

Also, I would steer clear of pillows with a bold, oversize-floral motif like the rug. The scale of the pillow patterns should contrast with the rug, not match it perfectly.

Something like this.

Mix and Match Throw Pillows with a Bold, Oversize Floral Rug

Exotic Unicorn-Themed Bedroom

Posted 4 June 2011 at 10:32 PM | Comments (3)

Much to my good friend’s chagrin, her daughter wants a unicorn-themed bedroom. “Do I have to give in?” she asked me. “Can’t I just put up fuzzy pink drapes and call it a day?” So I offered to come up some ideas that would satisfy her ten year-old and her own worldly tastes.

My starting point was this unicorn print by Etsy seller serpentmandalas, which is more colorful-tapestry-storybook than pink-glitter-rainbow (1 point: Mojan). I then built a room around that style with pieces that are equally colorful and appropriate for a ten year-old girl—and acceptable for a world-traveled mom.

Exotic and Bohemian Unicorn-Themed Girls' Bedroom

San Francisco Treatment

Posted 22 January 2011 at 4:53 PM | Comments (6)

Erin and Andrew just nabbed a spacious, vintage apartment in the Bay Area and asked me for some suggestions on color schemes. Their new place is awesome, but they don’t get much direct sunlight in their living room.

I looked through hundreds of photographs that might inspire them, and then pulled color palettes from the images that gave me that young-and-fun-couple-in-a-Bay-Area-apartment kind of vibe. Considering their lack of direct sunlight—with a north-facing bay window and west-facing windows covered by an oak tree—I tried to find images that use colors with red and yellow undertones, to warm up that cool-blue northern light.

Here are my four favorites.

Punchy
This set, from Benjamin Moore (a great resource for decorating ideas, by the way), is bold, bright, and fearless. The colors make me think of peacock feathers. Wisely, they’re combined with a lot of white, black, and gray.

(I’m aware this one isn’t exactly the “warm” color palette I said I’d stick to, but I couldn’t exactly eliminate these, could I??! I mean, LOOK!)

Living Room Painted in Peacock Blue, Benjamin Moore's "Lucerne"

Kitchen Painted in Lime, Benjamin Moore's "Grape Green"

Bedroom Painted in Fuchsia, Benjamin Moore's "Royal Flush"

Cozy
I admit I love the connection between this urban-hippie style and San Francisco’s bohemian subculture, but the décor isn’t as important here as is the color palette, taken from Pittsburgh Paint’s color trend guide for 2011.

Pittsburgh Paints 2011 Color Trends "New Bohemia" Collection

Pittsburgh Paints 2011 Color Trends "New Bohemia" Collection

Mod
I’m in love with this living room from Benjamin Moore. It reminds me of a cool professor—think bright red shirt under a brown tweed jacket. A wall color this bright warrants neutrality in furniture and accessories, which explains why these images are actually palatable.

Living Room Painted in Bright Red, Benjamin Moore's "Claret Rose"

Living Room Painted in Bright Red, Benjamin Moore's "Claret Rose"

Neutral
A white-walled room doesn’t have to be boring, as you can see in these images from Crate&Barrel and Room&Board. But since north-facing windows will cast a blue-gray light in the room, some furniture and accessories should have a warm undertone.

Crate&Barrel Living Room with the Shelter Sofa

Room&Board Living Room with the Dean Sectional

And here are the color palettes all in a row. Good luck, kids!

"Spirited" Collection Paint Swatches from Benjamin Moore's Envision Color 2011

"New Bohemia" Collection Paint Swatches from Pittsburgh Paint's Color Trends 2011

"Alternative View" Collection Paint Swatches from Benjamin Moore's Envision Color 2010

Neutral Color Palette with Warm Undertones

Design Dilemma: Room About to Lose a View

Posted 15 August 2010 at 11:03 PM | Comments (2)

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail asking for advice on window treatments. Her bedroom has three large windows set out like a bay window, currently with a beautiful view of green trees and a lot of sky. However, as townhouses are slated to be built next door, soon her only view will be of windows and siding. Depressing!

She asked me, “Do you have any ideas for recreating the tranquility of our current view with window treatments? I’d like to keep the room very clean and light.”

Natural Woven Shades

One option I love is natural woven shades. Besides being available in various colors, they’re also available in various grades of translucency, which means you have some control over privacy from the outside and light streaming inside.

Also, if you’ve painted the walls, carefully chosen textiles, and invested in beautiful furniture and yet your room still feels like something is missing, natural woven shades add texture and warmth and can possibly balance out your room, especially if it feels slightly stark.

Window Treatments: Natural Woven Shades

Solar Shades

A second option is solar shades. On the average, solar shades may be more expensive, but they are, in all honesty, worth it. They have UV protection, so your books, fabrics, and furniture won’t fade; they also reduce heat transfer from outdoors, so you’ll save on energy bills. They come in a variety of colors, textures, and, like natural woven shades, various grades of translucency.

Another thing I really like about solar shades is that you can continue enjoying your view, since they’re sheer. If you just don’t want to look at the neighbor’s house, however, this is probably not the right option for you.

Window Treatments: Solar Shades

Creating the Illusion of Stained Glass

A lesser-known option, especially appropriate for DIYers (i.e. not me), is painting your window to resemble stained glass. It looks much more authentic than using contact paper, because the paint holds a texture. And you can buy the paint in a kit that comes with “lead strips”—which are actually raised stickers.

I don’t know how difficult this process is, but as you can see, it really does look like stained glass.

Window Treatments: Create the Illusion of Stained Glass

Top-Down, Bottom-Up Shades

Top-down, bottom-up shades are my personal favorite option. If I wanted privacy from my neighbors but didn’t want my shades closed all the time, this is what I’d choose. And the fact that you can get them in patterned fabric, sheer linen, woven wood, and a variety of other materials makes them even more appealing.

Window Treatments: Top-Down, Bottom-Up Shades

Other Light and Airy Window Treatments

Roman shades, roller shades, and what Smith+Noble calls “horizontal illusions” are other options I like if you want to bring light in yet keep a sad view out.

Window Treatments: More Light and Airy Options

Drapery for a Bay Window

Many of the above options can still be combined with drapery (not a bad idea if you want two levels of privacy and light filtering). To leave you with this last piece of inspiration, check out how William and William have used curtains on the bay windows in their Chicago living room. Lovely.

Window Treatments: Drapery for a Bay Window