More often than not I meet people who are afraid of bright, intense colors. But once in a while I happen upon that color enthusiast – an adventurous client that knows they love color. Today’s decorating trends would have us believe that unless the room is flooded with white, grey, and beige, it’s just not cool. But I’m here to show you, that’s not really the case.
Now don’t get me wrong. You CAN have too much color in a room. What’s important is balance. That includes color balance, pattern balance, and the correct proportions. Achieving these things is a bit of a tight-rope act, so to avoid frustrating and costly trial and error – hire a designer.
When I first met with this couple, they had just painted their dining room this bold, tomato red.
While some decorators would furrow their brow and ask the couple to re-paint the room a subdued color, I embraced their style. And after they showed me around their new home, I noticed a few other rooms had also been brightly painted. I have to say a little chill of excitement ran through me, because I know what color can do.
So for our dining room project, one of the first challenges was that the adjoining family room was painted this soft, neutral taupe color.
A typical issue with using bold colors is that they don’t necessarily flow easily from one room to the next. They create stark contrast against neutrals, and can also compete with other bold colors. The key is to establish some similarity between the boldly colored room and its neighbors. I knew I needed the perfect fabric to make sense of the two spaces and pull them together. This lovely print from Fabricut was my solution.
The background is taupe, which is a cool shade of beige containing a lot of grey. It cools down the bright tomato red in a way that enhances it. And the taupe happens to be the exact shade painted on the walls in the adjoining family room. While the taupe color cools, the ivory brightens and lightens. That’s also important with an intense color like red – especially at night when natural light can’t do the job for you.
The dining room is fairly small, so it doesn’t leave us a lot of floor plan options. We need a rather compact table and 6 chairs. With small rooms, you need to be careful not to overpower the room with too many intense design elements. Since we have our print, we’ve got to go really simple elsewhere.
I decided to apply the printed upholstery fabric above to two head dining chairs from Lee Industries. These uniquely shaped chairs are one of my favorite styles. They are reminiscent of a traditional wing-back chair, so they’re large and welcoming, but at the same time they’re new and modern. The nail heads make them sparkle. Perfect for a transitional home!
Six upholstered chairs would truly have been overkill for the small area, so I opted to introduce additional texture with these distressed, X back chairs in a dark espresso finish. We wanted our chairs and tables to have character, not look like they were just bought at a big-box furniture showroom. So I opted for these chairs from Restoration Hardware.
The dining table needed a very clean-lined profile so as not to complicate the design, but had to stand up to both the distressed wooden and finely detailed upholstered chairs. Restoration Hardware just didn’t have a table with the right scale, so we selected this one from West Elm, featuring a more pronounced wood grain.
Distressed and grained woods add texture to a space. In the home’s only dining area, we didn’t want unapproachable, high gloss, fancy furniture. We wanted it elegant but casual, with just a little something special.
For the rest of the room, we had to keep things simple. Two small windows got clean, airy, and gauzy sheer ivory linen panels. The back side of the house is quite private so the panels were just decorative and served to soften a room full of wood. The sheer fabric was important because in a room this brightly painted, we don’t want to restrict any natural sunlight.
I also selected these fun tone-on-tone carpet tiles from FLOR. These tend to be my go-to for contemporary dining rooms and kitchens in homes with children and pets. They wash up easily, are flexible, and inexpensive. Dining disasters need not cause any major drama.
The ivory color complements the yellow oak floors that came with the house. If we had chosen a taupe, for instance, which may have hidden stains better, they would just blend into the floor color and make no impact. When selecting area rugs, pay close attention to the color and tone of your hardwood floor.
And last but not least, lighting is like the jewelry of the room, especially in a dining room. The couple had adventurous taste and wanted something really fun and special to replace the old-fashioned Tiffany style chandelier. So we selected this lovely champagne-colored metal hanging shade. It’s funky and modern, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Two of these abstract art pieces flanking the wall behind the table give the room a finished appearance. The colors warm up the room, but don’t compete with our fabrics, rug, and furniture.
And now, take a look at a few of these design elements together – bold can really be beautiful!
So if you’re one of those home owners who isn’t afraid to use color, remember to use complementary neutrals, brightening colors, and multiple textures to balance your bold selection. And don’t forget to find a color or other element that will tie your bold room into the other spaces in your home.