Colors Big and Bold

Tips and Ideas to Brighten Your Home



For low-key changes with big impact, Lisa Teague suggests choosing small patterns for big pieces and large patterns for small items.

By Lisa Teague, Lisa Teague Studios

No matter how much you love skiing, ice skating or snuggling up next to the fire, winter in New Hampshire can wreak havoc on your mood. Long months of dark, cold days can make even the most rabid winter enthusiast pray for summer by the time February hits, and looking outside into a sea of dirty white, brown and gray certainly isn't the most cheerful of sights.

But fear not - even if the scene outside is bleak, strong color in your interior design scheme can do wonders for your home and your mood. Color livens up any house and any style, so go big and go bold. Whether you choose emerald (the Pantone color for 2013), cherry red, pale yellow or rich cobalt, a little bit of color and pattern in your home can go a long way toward banishing the winter doldrums and upping your mood for good.

Renee Carman, the owner of Mandeville Canyon Designs in Exeter, says a bright home can be the key to a positive mood because color is tied so closely to memory and the subconscious. "Color is better for your mind, for your heart," she says. "You'd be in a void or a vacuum without color."

Carman, who estimates that her color consultations with clients take an average of 12 hours, explains that color should be personal, and suggests looking at inspiration pieces like beloved articles of clothing, artwork or furniture to find a jumping off point for interior design themes. "I think it's just important to delve into people's personality," she says. "Lots of times I think it just depends on the person."

But, Carman says, sometimes moving out of your comfort zone - like choosing unexpected colors or using certain colors in atypical ways - can yield the best results. "I try to move people away from what color can or should be used for," Carman says. "Color is supposed to be super adaptive."

That said, homeowners should think about the atmosphere they want to portray when choosing a color palette, Carman cautions. "Red is used to increase heart rate, appetite and energy," she explains. "Greens and blues are calming, and yellow is a mood enhancer."

Pops of a bright color, like in the room pictured here, can be dramatic as well.
Renee Carman, Mandeville Canyon Designs

Lisa Teague of Lisa Teague Studios in Portsmouth also stresses that color's role in interior design should be tailored to the individual, and encourages homeowners to go in whichever direction makes them happiest by picking a palette they are naturally drawn to. "We can all walk into a space and have a mood change based on the space, and color is usually the biggest component in that," she says. "I think everyone is sensitive to color."

And, Teague says, color can be used to bring out the best aspects of space. "I use color as a tool for where I want the eye to land or rest," she explains, adding that wall color can be used to "accent architectural features" or to bring out favorite hues in artwork or furniture.

Best of all, there's a way for everyone to incorporate bold shades into interior design. Teague recommends painting an accent wall, finding beautiful throw pillows or experimenting with pattern - small patterns for big pieces like sofas and large patterns for small pieces like pillows, she recommends - for low-key changes with major impact. Or, for a bigger risk, Teague says to consider painting the ceiling or floor of a room in a bright shade or to experiment with highly saturated hues in a small space like a bathroom.

Sharon Bottner of Panache Interior Design in Rye agreed with Teague, saying that adding color to the home can be easy and low commitment. She suggests going with quick fixes like bright area rugs, window coverings, lamps, furniture, pottery and artwork for a taste of a dramatic hue without a huge change. "Color can add drama, it can add style, it can evoke a mood," she explains. "Our senses are stimulated by color and when there's a lack of color our minds get bored."

Bottner also stresses that if your style doesn't mesh well with bright color, neutrals like cream and ivory, historic colors like colonial blue and small pops of color can all make a gorgeous impact too. And if you can't decide on a color scheme, Bottner suggests using several shades in your décor - as long as the colors are equally saturated, the different hues will flow beautifully throughout the house.

But above all, Botter says, the best use of color is the one that makes a homeowner happy: "Color is a great way of expressing yourself in an easy way. My experience is that when people sort of stretch themselves in terms of their use of color, they're happy they did."

Still not sure where to start? Mandeville Canyon's Carman says that's OK - all you need to do is take the first step.

"A lot of people are scared of color, but as soon as you start, it's Pandora's box," she says. "It pushes people's boundaries but in an economical way - because if it doesn't work out, so what?" NH

The Pantone 2013 Color of the Year

Each year the Pantone Color Institute forecasts color trends for the upcoming year, a process that includes the much anticipated Color of the Year pick.

For 2013 they went a near 180 from 2012's tangerine tango with the selection of bright and bold emerald green, a color Pantone says represents "growth, renewal and prosperity" and that "enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony." Expect to see this lively gemstone color showing up in everything from home décor to high fashion.

Previous choices include the aforementioned tangerine tango (2012), honeysuckle (2011), turquoise (2010), mimosa (2009), blue iris (2008) and chili pepper (2007). You can see swatches of all those colors plus numerous emerald fashion and home decorating ideas at Pantone's website, pantone.com.

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