Designers offer tips on how to bring more color into your home


If you’re tired of having a home full of neutral furniture and colors – a la the dominant design trends of recent years – but are a little nervous about reversing course completely, you’re certainly not alone.

“Many homeowners tend to stay away from color. Some might even be afraid of it,” says Robin Gannon, whose company Robin Gannon Interiors is based in Lexington, Massachusetts. She attributes this to a few things. “They may not have been exposed to color or pattern in their formative years, and the homes we grew up in have a huge impact on our design aesthetic and preferences. Others like color but are afraid of what the final space will look like and fear they will invest time and money to end up with a space they hate.”

Have courage: Even the most colour-shy people don’t have to be banished to a home full of beige tones forever. Gannon and other designers say there are many ways to become more receptive to using bold colors—without overdoing it. Whether you’re working with a professional or remodeling your space yourself, here are some tips to keep in mind before you go for that fuchsia powder room.

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Make a list of your favorite colors. Before taking on a new project, Denver-based designer Nadia Watts asks her clients what shades resonate with them. “With this information I will stretch myself [clients’] Comfort zones by suggesting colors outside of the familiar range,” she says. She highlights undertones in the colors, “So [clients] are able to digest and support that direction.” Aren’t you working with a professional? Just go to your local paint shop where you can look at a range of colors. “Say you’re done with gray and ready for a change,” says Watts. “Gray usually has a cool undertone, so look at blues that have a bit of green in them. You can always make the spectrum lighter or darker depending on how dramatic you want your room to be.”

If you’re having trouble identifying your favorite shades, take a look inside your closet. “If there’s a color or color family that you like to wear often, it gives you a good indication of what colors you’ll love having in your home,” says designer Emma Kemper, owner of Emma Beryl, based in New York Interiors .

Start small. Designers agree that gradually introducing small, non-permanent pieces is a great way to dip your toes into more colorful design. Try incorporating throw pillows, accessories and art with vibrant hues. “Adding these items helps get a person used to seeing color,” says designer Linda Hayslett of Los Angeles-based LH.Designs. “Then after a while, start adding more to the mix.”

Try a bedding makeover. Kemper particularly likes to add color to a room with bedding. “A bed takes up so much real estate in your bedroom and is a perfect canvas for layering rich colors, textures and patterns,” she says. “To me, an empty white bed often feels like a hole in the middle of the room and is a missed opportunity.”

Be balanced. If you’re considering incorporating a vibrant upholstery piece into your space, remember that it’s important to balance bolder colors with more muted shades, says Gannon. “Think of a movie: there are a few stars of the show and supporting cast. All are important to make the space successful,” she says. Gannon suggests opting for a forest green sofa, for example, and incorporating softer hues and a few patterned cushions so it doesn’t look overwhelming.

Be thoughtful with color. If you decide to coat the walls with paint, you should first take a more subtle approach. “Introducing vibrant colors can be done on a smaller scale, with walls that are half painted and doors that are painted a light shade,” says Molly Torres Portnof of Brooklyn-based Date Interiors.

Additionally, designers often recommend being bold in smaller or less frequently used spaces. The powder room is an excellent place to bring vibrant color into the home, says Sydney Markus, designer at Anthony Wilder Design/Build in Cabin John, Md. “Because a powder room is a small space, it’s easier to take risks and add something Color and pattern for dramatic effect,” she says. “Also think about wallpaper that is affordable in such a small space.”

While Markus enjoys designing neutral, calm master bedrooms, she also takes more risks with color in the guest rooms. “You want to incorporate a color that will last for many years, one that will last, as opposed to a guest room where you can take more color risks and change it up like you would in a hotel room,” she says.

What if you later change your mind? Don’t fret because color is easy to fix. “Go ahead and take the leap,” says Watts. “It’s just color and you can still do something.”

Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and stylist based in New York. Find her on Instagram: @sarahlyon9.

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