Balancing Bolds

I’ve fallen for a stunning hand-me-down dress gathering dust in my five year old’s closet.  Whether I doubt it will ever be worn before it too gets passed along, due to her very particular fashion and texture sensibilities, I’ve begun daydreaming about its colors defining a space.  A pumpkin orange, teal, and olive brown.

First, some field rules to help any bold color mix succeed:

  1. Balance the color mix.  When using a big color, like red or orange, find an equally powerful color for balance.  In this case, the teal contends against the orange, as it’s a near inversion on the color wheel.  This is also known as a complementary color scheme.  Yellow and purple, and green and red are other popular examples.
  2. Ground the big colors.  Olive is an earthy, warm hue, but a rich chocolate or a pale linen could provide calm and support the loud dynamics.
  3. Watch the noise.  Dive in, and go big — but mind the chaos.  In other words, it’s best to use a bold color on a big surface, rather than lots of busy, chaotic bits of color.  Think confetti wallpapers or circus stripes.  Paint the wall(s), stain a piece of furniture, choose that rug.  Use decorative accents – curtains, pillows, decor – to coordinate it all.

Here’s a take on this mix, applied to a living room:

A pumpkin, tufted chaise, natural fiber rug and basket, fun star pedestal table, and sky blue walls and throw.

Here, the turquoise pop of the chair upholstery is as saturated as the bright orange table, but neutrals surround and support these contrasting stars.

Everything about this picture makes me want to drink a sangria and enjoy some tapas bars with friends…  The wispy, sheer curtain diffusing light, the hexagonal tile, lovely light fixture, and last and most — the brilliant intensity of color.