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The Times
  • Home Style: Guidelines for adding bold color to rooms

  • How comfortable are you decorating with color? I'm always surprised by how many of my friends and customers are nervous about selecting and decorating with bold colors. They question their ability to tell how much color is too little or too much. Or they aren't quite sure how to bring new color schemes into the exi...
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  • How comfortable are you decorating with color? I'm always surprised by how many of my friends and customers are nervous about selecting and decorating with bold colors. They question their ability to tell how much color is too little or too much. Or they aren't quite sure how to bring new color schemes into the existing decor. I agree: Decorating with strong colors can be intimidating. That's why I always take one of two foolproof approaches when I interject powerful pigments into a room.
    1. If you use a strong color on the walls, use neutrals in the room.
    I am crazy about bold, strong paint colors. While everyone has a color quotient -- the level of color that feels just right -- I think statement wall colors look best when they are balanced with plenty of neutral furnishings, artwork and accents. Here are some tips on how to decorate a room to bring out the best in my top wall-color picks for the year:
    Every year, Pantone, the company that's the renowned authority on color, picks its color of the year. For 2013, it's emerald. I was thrilled to hear this, because I've been a fan of this soothing yet vibrant tone forever.
    Just like Mother Nature does, I mix lots of different tones of green together when I decorate, so the presentation feels more evolved, less matchy-matchy. With bold green colors on bedroom walls, for example, think about using lots of black and white in your bedding, crisp and clean neutrals that tone things down a bit.
    Here's another idea: My friend Julie just painted her kitchen walls deep green. To balance the strong wall color, she painted her cabinets all white. Then, she dressed her windows with  black-and-white ticking drapery panels. It turned out so lovely!
    Navy: I've had a lifelong love affair with the color blue, but my undying devotion is reserved for navy.
    Peony Pink: A friend was tired of the drab green walls in her living room, so I urged her to keep the wall color but paint the ceiling in Peony. We finished the room with cream-colored furnishings and a gallery of modern art. It looks beautiful.
    Gray: Deep, dark charcoal gray is really big right now. This dramatic, moody color looks amazing paired with white and cream, providing a startling light-dark contrast. Dark colors call for light-colored furniture, like a white, light-yellow or dove-gray sofa. Dress up the sofa with an assortment of tone-on-tone pillows filled with touchable texture. Or toss in a few pops of bright color, like marigold, turquoise or emerald. You'll also want to dress the walls in lots of light-colored artwork, especially framed pieces that feature a generous amount of matting.
    Page 2 of 2 - 2. If you use a neutral color on the wall, use strong colors in the room.
    You can saturate spaces with color without ever picking up a paintbrush. The trick is to layer up the tones through furnishings, floor coverings, artwork and accents. Introducing color through your decor is a great way to wade in if you're not sure what your color quotient is yet. Start by adding one pop of color, maybe through a brightly colored lamp or a side chair upholstered in a floral or geometric print. Then live in the room for a few weeks and see how it feels. If you find yourself yearning for more color, add another piece. Rest. Then repeat until you've achieved your perfect blend.
    If you know you want to take things up a notch, cover several pieces of furniture in bold fabrics that include a variety of patterns and colors. Work in solid-colored accents that pluck out a few of the colors featured in your fabric. If your walls are covered in a soft neutral like white, cream, light yellow or light blue, they will balance the bold statement you're making through your furniture and accents.
        
    The column has been adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com.
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