By Lindsey M. Roberts
Special for the Washington Post
Like many of us over the past decade, Leslie Corona, editor of Real Simple magazine, has generally avoided using color in her home. White walls, after all, can look better on Instagram. “But then I bought a condo,” she says, “and I thought, ‘I don’t want to have a boring white box.’ ”
Thus, she painted the walls and the ceiling of her room in De Nimes, a blue from Farrow & Ball. She chose pine green chairs for the dining room and she put up navy blue wallpaper in the office.
Corona is on trend, according to Libby Rawes, owner of Sharp and Gray Interiors in Philadelphia, who sees less white and gray and more olive, rust, ochre, mustard, beige and others” pleasant and warm colors” in furniture and accessories. . If you’re also ready to add more color, warmth and life to your home, here are some tips on how to do it.
Create a vision
Choose a palette. Think about the colors you like to wear, as they usually reflect your preferences. From there, look at complementary shades. A work of art with your favorite color will likely contain complementary hues. Rawes says red and blue work together, just like orange and green or a warm terracotta and dusty green. Corona likes blue-green and peach; rose and sea foam; yellow, purple-gray and plum; or mossy green and pink.
Test the paint colors. When putting colors on your walls, the general advice is to test them with 12 inch by 12 inch pieces of paper or even larger pieces of painted cardboard. Many companies also have pre-painted peel and stick samples. Move the square to see how different lighting affects it. “Hold it up close to floors, as well as other permanent fixtures, like woodwork or tile, to see how it looks with all the different elements,” Rawes says.
Visualize your space. Online design tools can help you sample a color scheme. Pinterest lets you combine paint colors, furniture, and accessories on a virtual mood board. Another tool is the interior design site Spoak ($14.99 per month), which lets you choose furniture and accessories and see how everything would look together.
How to add color
Start small. Test your palette with easy-to-change accessories. Try a colorful pot on the stove, a vibrant scarf draped over the edge of a picture frame or piano table, hand towels in the bathroom, or a fun doormat. Fresh flowers are another great option with minimal commitment. Corona recommends monthly flower delivery subscriptions. Rawes also suggests picking up a bouquet at a local florist or farmer’s market. “They usually last a bit longer from local sources,” she says. For a quick and easy arrangement, she likes hydrangeas, tulips or eucalyptus.
Try wallpaper. Bold, patterned wallpaper is a tried and tested way to add color and interest to any space. New options have made it easier to attach and remove. But even temporary wallpaper can be expensive. Corona suggests using it in small doses, such as in a closet, in a powder room, or on a laundry room wall. Looking for another less expensive way to inject color and interest? Many DIY bloggers paint designs that look like wallpaper, like chevrons or abstract shapes.
Connect with furniture. “Rich, colorful furniture looks great in a neutral space,” says Rawes. But don’t overdo it; it is important to balance it with lighter or neutral colors and textures. And try to limit yourself to two or three bright colors in a space, including furniture, textiles and accessories. Think “a bold blue sofa with a blue and blush floral chair with a hint of green paired with a more neutral rug or wallpaper,” says Rawes. She also likes leathers and velvets in warm hues.
Most customers are open to colorful furniture as long as the pieces themselves look classic, she says. But for those who are hesitant, she suggests experimenting with covers available from a variety of sources. Bemz makes covers specifically for Ikea furniture.
Stain or paint wood floors. Pinch Plate Party blogger Lauren Comer stained a dark brown argyle pattern on her laundry room’s plywood floor, a look Corona loves. But you don’t have to limit yourself to one shade of brown, says Corona. Minwax also offers indigo, emerald, onyx and more. Be sure to test the color first, though.
“Chances are the color won’t look like you imagine it once it’s absorbed into the wood, because wood types vary widely,” Corona says. Hire a professional for best results. Another option for a casual beach house, cottage or studio, Rawes says, is to paint wood floors.
Get creative with paint. Painting porch ceilings (or the ceiling of a room) is a fun option. Rawes also recommends painting the trim. Choose a color that contrasts with the color of your walls, especially a darker color. Or go the opposite direction and paint an entire room – walls, trim and ceiling – with the same color. Rawes says you can create contrast with highlights: flat on the ceiling, eggshell on the walls, and satin or semi-gloss on the trim.
Sophia Ferrari-Wills, home renovator and social media content creator in the UK, has saturated her English cottage with color. One hallway is a bubble gum pink called Puppy Love by Dulux, her house shutters are a custom sunny yellow, and her stair spindles have a pink ombre pattern. Its front door is Satin Rose by Rust-Oleum.
Paint your appliances. Kitchen appliances don’t have to be white, black or gray. More and more companies are offering devices in bright colors, but if you don’t want to replace what you have, you can paint them.
“It allows for that unique, prettier look…without the price tag of an expensive, colorful brand,” says Ferrari-Wills, who painted her fridge pink. It’s also something you can easily change if you decide you don’t like it in the future.
First clean the unit with a degreaser and cleaner, then go over two coats of an all-surface satin paint with a small foam roller designed for gloss or satin finishes. Ferrari-Wills also sprayed its refrigerator handles with Montana Cans frozen strawberry and hand-painted scallops around the ice maker in polar blue.