This series of posts has covered much of the basics of using accessories successfully. I’ve talked about decorating your walls, displaying your collections or favorite treasures, using flowers and plants, lighting and today I’ll wrap up with a dash of color.
We all stress about color – is it too bright? Does it match my other colors? Is it too bland or boring? Is it too safe? Too bold? What colors go with what I already have? What’s the hot new color and can I use it in my space? Some of the best things about accessories is that they’re portable (move them from room to room), often quite affordable (but not always), available in just about any color under the sun and the easiest way to make a difference in a room. (unless otherwise stated, these pictures are all from my vast -and old- photo archives)
STAND OUT COLOR ENERGIZES A ROOM
Accessories are really useful when you want a bold blast of color to contrast with a neutral room – or just to add a touch of brightness or variety in a colorful room. If you use a vivid or contrasting color, your room will have more energy and to really maximize the color, try to use it in a variety of forms and places around the room. Have the accent color in pillows, the rug, a vase on the mantel, book covers on the coffee table and maybe picture frames in a bookcase. You want to use that accent color to move your eye around the room…..but don’t make it too perfectly spaced, it starts to feel contrived.
This room has the right idea with using the pink & teal accents spaced throughout the room as well as the white bookcase. But don’t you think it’s a little too perfect? Instead of feeling inviting, it feels …. too staged.
Red is a very bold accent color and here’s a good example of using it judiciously. It proves you don’t have to be hit over the head with the color to appreciate it. A touch in the art, on the tabletop, flowers and even the ribbon, makes a very understated but attractive statement.
Here you’ve got an essentially neutral room and the pillows introduce the accent colors. The green is taken to the coffee table, the art and the vases on the console table (note how the vases overlap the art to visually connect the groupings). Although we can’t see the other side of the room, I’m sure there’s a touch of green opposite the sofa to draw your eye around the room.
This room in shades of blue uses the same lime green as a pop of color to keep the room from being too boring. The throw in a totally different color (something rosey it seems) warms up this otherwise cool room.
Colorful accessories are a great way to pick up colors in a piece of art or rug and emphasize them. This pottery collection plays on the colors in the painting and the little bit of orange (the complementary color to the blues) makes the grouping more dynamic and not so matchy matchy.
This room boldly uses small touches of a variety of colors – gold, green and cobalt blue. Don’t be afraid to mix the colors of your accessories to create something unexpected. Too much of a good thing will make a room feel jumbled and messy, but bold color balanced by blocks of neutral (sofa, flooring, walls) will be lovely.
This room is a little confusing to me – it’s not so easy to pick out the accent color. Accessories are red – pillow, magazine basket, flowers, book covers. No, they’re blue - vases & plates on the shelves, chairs, valance. The colors are so evenly matched I think it’s not very interesting. The one thing I do like is the back of the bookshelves painted red. Now that’s some drama! So maybe that’s the accent color……
QUIET COLOR SOOTHES A ROOM
Accessories don’t have to contrast with the room to contribute. Quiet colors that blend with the room and don’t make an individual statement contribute to a soothing, relaxing, peaceful environment. Ideally your home would have both quiet rooms (bedrooms, maybe a dining room) and energetic rooms (family room, kitchen).
Soft blue, creamy beige with a tiny touch of blush rose - warm and cool - restful and calm. The blue and white accessories reinforce the color scheme in a quiet way while the few touches of darker wood furniture ground this room.
A monochromatic room is all shades of one color - here it’s tan. From golden tans to creamy tans, the accessories blend right in and none of them stand apart and say “look at me”. The collection of pottery is used throughout the room but supports the color scheme rather than contrasting it.
Another monochromatic room – brown, lots of brown and white. The art, the lamp, the flower bowl, the grouping on the console…everything stays within the scheme. And then there’s this fabulous pop of the only color in the room. Dramatic, elegant, unexpected and totally gorgeous.
This very quiet tan room has accessories that are …… brown. What makes the accessories shine is their shapes and the light background is perfect way to showcase those shapes.
Sometimes accessories contribute color, sometimes scale (size). In this bedroom, the small size and limited color palette of the accessories contribute to the calm and restful atmosphere. If those vases were orange, red or even bright green, the energy of the room would feel different. Not wrong, just different.
One last example of accessories that reinforce a quiet color scheme. All in shades of blue, this serene room could sink into drabness. What saves it? In my opinion the sparkling silver is the accent color and the gleam and shine of it moving around the room keeps this room from being bland.
MAXIMIZE YOUR ACCESSORIES
You now have all the tools that interior designers have when they create stunning accessory displays. You have the knowledge, the interest (it is your home after all), the doodads and tchotchkes, so go forth and accessorize with confidence.
To summarize: Start with your walls - make good use of proportion and scale to bring interest to the biggest segment of the room to fill. Next bring in your favorite treasures and display collections in one spot in the room to maximize their impact. Vary the height and size of the pieces for interest. Add a plant here and there in your groupings to bring life into the space, add a new texture and use a style appropriate flower to fill in. Lighting will make a huge difference in being able to see those wonderful displays so choose accent lighting carefully. And finally, use color to bring focus to an area or collection or use color to reinforce a calm, peaceful space.
Amazingly, as I was writing this series of posts I kept thinking of more tips to share …… so I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic after the first of the year. If you don’t want to miss all the tips I ran of out room to share here…..subscribe and you won’t miss a word.