Pairing the perfect color palette

info@islandpacket.comApril 21, 2013 

Watery blue and sunny gold tones combine in a classic yin and yang fashion for this sumptuous master bedroom. This tried-and-true pairing of cool and warm tones is luxurious as well as timeless.


Choosing the right pairing is not always an easy feat. Whether it is selecting a skilled partner to play in a golf tournament, grabbing the right handbag to go with a great pair of shoes, or pouring the perfect wine to serve with rainbow trout, the process can be a challenge. This is often the case when selecting the right color combination for your dècor.

Sometimes we want a no-brainer, the perfect match. Sometimes we want a subtle compliment for nuance. Sometimes we just need a big punch of drama to jazz it up.

Those of you who follow my column regularly know I am all about using color. I love how color can set the mood for a room and turn the volume up or down depending on the intensity of the hue and the juxtaposition with other tones.

Personally I feel color is the next most important element of successful interior design after establishing the scale and layout. For instance, your furnishings might be the right size for the room and logically laid out for the flow, but if the upholstery and accent fabrics do not work well with the wall and flooring colors it will simply not look right.

Color-blocking is a term I keep hearing thrown around by the judges and contestants on "Project Runway." You fashion-forward types probably already know it means layering multiple solid colors in an outfit. Typically, the use of pattern in color-blocking is kept to a minimum, although multiple textures can be employed for added interest. Can you apply the same technique to you interior dècor? Absolutely. The key is pairing the right colors together.

Injecting bold color into your living room does not have to be a major, long-term commitment. If you favor a quiet, neutral, background then add punch with small touches of an accent hue. Bright pillows on an off-white sofa will offer a dose of drama. Try to pull from a favorite color in your artwork or area rug.

A snazzy strip of color as a ribbon or flange on the lead edge of a neutral fabric drapery panel can accentuate without overpowering. A solid color ottoman or throw can do the same thing.

You can pull off a similar effect in your bedroom. Are you afraid to commit to an entirely blue or green room? Then consider painting just the headboard wall. In fact, for my master bedroom, I did just the opposite, choosing a darker-toned, cool, teal blue for three of the walls and then wallpapering the headboard wall with a warm ivory-hued grasscloth. Since the headboard wall is opposite the door to the room, the darker color is not overwhelming upon entering. Thus, when in the bed, all you see is teal and it is both enveloping and relaxing at the same time, perfect for slumber. The ivory tempers the teal in the overall theme.

While we are in the bedroom, lets talk about that bedscape. I often use a plain white bedcovering such as a matelasse coverlet. Why? Because, you can do so much with it since it acts as a blank canvas. You can add layers of interest with colorful pillows and perhaps a textured throw or quilt draped across the foot of the bed. Sometimes I even use colored sheets underneath for a contrasting accent. Remember, it is all about the experience of using a room.

Color combination trends come and go, so I am not going to lecture you on what color to pair with another. What is popular now you ask? Well, mostly anything neutral, be it brown or gray or something inbetween, combined with accents like bright orange, pink or coral. Yellows are popping up too, as a brightener for a "quiet" palette. The point is to have fun with it.

With all that goes on in our world today, we are making our homes our cocoons more than ever. We desire the "comfort food" mode for our interiors just like we crave mac-n-cheese for our appetites. It is safe, familiar, and satisfying. But sometimes we need that extra spice, like a hit of pepper sauce, that the exotic and unexpected offers. Paired together they can feed us well.

Gregory Vaughan is an interior designer with Kelley Designs. Contact him at 843-785-6911 or

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