Interior Design and Color 2012 – Got Style?

Remember the other day, when I talked about why I don’t like channel back chairs? If you can’t easily articulate what you do or don’t like about color, it makes using color trends or any color for that matter, pretty difficult. Let’s try visualizing instead.

An image I love from avaraylondon’s etsy store

Here is a picture I responded to. Any designer can tell you that knowing and designing for yourself is allot harder that intuiting the preferences of a client who is giving you enough objective information to make you seem like a palm reader.

So what does my affinity to this image say about what I might be drawn to in a room design?

  • I enjoy contrast.
  • I respond to a mixture of sophisticated neutrals and bright pops of color.
  • I respond to unexpected and unconventional treatments.
  • I like a space that’s airy and not overly cluttered.
  • I am drawn to a mix of surfaces, ranging from matte to glossy (maybe I would enjoy transparencies, metallic accents, or glossy surfaces in the mix?)
  • Do you see pattern here? No, I mean in the image – if you blur the image, you see 2 kinds of pattern – smaller pattern in her hair piece, and the large pattern evoked in the form of her silhouette – this says I might appreciate a focal wall of large pattern, or on a an area rug, mixed with some patterned pillows.
  • Look at the bright red feather – that might be interesting reinterpreted in accents or lighting.

OK, let’s begins with identifying a color palette, which has been done above. Yesterday, we did the grunt work of sorting out the logistics of space planning.  Expressing  our preferences in the room is just the next logical step.Remembering DISCIPLINE….

Paint chips are a great way to begin. Most people can’t keep a mental record of color, let alone an entire palette committed to memory – so take your image to a paint store. If you print it your image and see that it comes off your printer looking like the same image yet with entirely different color family members in hard copy, email it to Kinko’s. They can work with you to get a representative color print of what you see on the screen.

Let’s have a closer look at that palette. Don’t feel obligated to work with every color in your inspiration palette! Use the process of elimination as you go. This particular group is comprised of neutrals and accent colors to choose from and would work best by eliminating either the red or the pink…

Now go backwards – find some images of rooms that you love, that are in keeping with your inspiration palette. You don’t have to be exact, but staying within a specific palette establishes flow and continuity throughout your space. This way, every room doesn’t seem like a different vacation destination as you walk through your home.

We are going to deconstruct the images, by color and proportion.

Martha Stewart paper lanterns – iamge from Martha Stewart

room image from SFGirlbyBay

Southern Accents Magazine

Whoa, hang on….green and lavender? keep to the spec!

image from the design file blog

Better…while the image below lacks the bright colors, it creates a sophisticated blank canvas that leaves space to imagine them.

Veranda Nove-Dec 2006

What do these rooms tell you about your preferences?

If you come up empty, and can’t find a room with your colors don’t stress – try looking at table stories instead….


Rosanna Plates from

Ask yourself questions about why you like particular elements – write down your answers! You can learn a lot about yourself and your style this way.

Now take your color palette to your favorite online sources or stores – a truly “collected” look (on any budget) emerges from shopping the static color palette from more than one source. REMEMBER DIMENSIONS, as we learned from yesterday’s tedious exercise in space planning! Now create a collage with products chosen from your palette and rooms re-imagined in real time.

inspiration board

Here’s what I did:

The seating is from two Etsy stores. The Mai Chiang Dragon fabric by Schumacher is from ebay, and meant to be framed as art. The coffee table is Alexandra Von Furstenberg and is a big ticket item – so the couch is gently used from Etsy. The lighting is Currey, from MyHomeFacelift, and the floor level lamps (table and floor height) are unified by color. It’s hard to see, but the lamp mirrors the scales on the dragon fabric perfectly, and the square lamp shade relates to the coffee table shape. The portable lighting is all blue, so it’s OK to throw in a red lantern, to communicate with the chairs but is diminutive in scale, not to argue with the graphic pattern. It ties the fabric and chairs together in a visual triangle in the room. The trestle side table from Anthropologie adds the juxtaposition of a bit of rough and raw that feels at ease with a gently used sofa and creates design tension in contrast to the slick acrylic coffee table. The rug is an airy ombre water turquoise by Designers Guild, as is that yellow cut velvet sofa pillow. The Japanese Lady Pillows are Design Legacy. Well placed identical floor mirrors might work here to increase reflectivity. I have chosen a neutral paint color with accents of light blue and lemony yellow. The Turquoise was an ad-on, but is not far away from my blue, and creates a nice monochrome effect.

Well….what are you waiting for? It’s weekend warrior time! Find all the weapons a weekend warrior needs to tastefully conquer a stylish home at