Décor Trend: Bold, Brilliant Color
by brooke lea foster
Forget neutrals; these days everyone seems to want a little color in their home. "The economy is loosening up and people want their homes to feel happy again," says Patrick Planeta, a principal at PlanetaBasque in the South End. While safe colors like beige, tan, and white have dominated over the last several years, people are ready for a change. Today, say local designers, Boston homeowners are drawn to bright colors, shimmery fabrics and surfaces, and lots of peppy patterns—they want pieces and colors that lift their mood.
Turqs and Tangos
It seems decorators can't stop upholstering classic pieces in vivid colors. Kate McCusker, one of two principal designers with Theodore & Company in Boston, says she's been incorporating color into many of her recent projects, such as a sofa she covered in blueberry velvet for a client. In her office, she has a hot pink silk throw pillow on a royal-blue-and-white toile French sofa. "Bold color is happy. It gives you a shot in the arm," she says.
Some designers are using saturated colors on walls too. Kristen Rivoli, principal and designer with Kristen Rivoli Interior Design in Winchester, recently painted a bedroom in Benjamin Moore's Fiji, a turquoise blue. The clients had already decorated their living room in neutrals with turquoise accents. "They liked the accent color so much, they wanted it to be predominant in their bedroom," she says.
Planeta introduced a couple in the South End to Stark's Old World Weavers Argonauta fabric, a beige textile with royal blue and red scenes framed in circles, which inspired them to incorporate the color scheme into their dining room. Planeta suggested that they paint the walls with wide citrine and chartreuse stripes. "During the day it looks like one color, but at night, you can really see the tones and values," he says. "It comes to life." They used the fabric to make the room's drapery.
"There's definitely a lot of blue, turquoise, and green [this season]," says Rivoli, and red and orange radiate a certain cheerfulness. She points to Matthew Williamson's Sunset rug by The Rug Company, a watercolor-like, rainbow-striped floor covering, or Pierre Frey's Erevan wallpaper in cardinal red and Élitis grass cloth in Nature Précieuse, a rich red hue. Planeta often uses Gretchen Bellinger's Deluxe Blue Crab silk velvet fabric in upholstery projects, since its "lustrous sheen gives it depth." Rather than decorate an entire room in bold color, designers suggest choosing one item—a chair or a sofa—and testing your choice first. Says Planeta: "Think of adding one or two pieces as punctuation."
In the last decade it was hard to find a redesigned kitchen that didn't have nickel or stainless steel hardware and fixtures, but now gold is showing up on drawer pulls—and in pieces throughout the home. "It symbolizes that the golden age is not behind us, it's before us," says McCusker.
You don't need to use the high gold finish of Versailles to make an impact, however—today there are mellow golds that can be used with any look. In a coastal Maine house, McCusker is using brass hardware, door handles, and window fittings. "Gold is most effective in details," she says. In a traditional living room, you might incorporate a gilded mirror or frames, or even a decorative golden eagle on a mantel. Contemporary homeowners can play with gold, too: Imagine a coffee table, a modern light fixture, or even a piece of Asian art in tones of gold.
Studio 534 in the Boston Design Center has tables and lighting fixtures with metal and gold accents, while Donghia and Webster & Company, also at the BDC, feature fabrics with gold threads or flecking. "It gives just a bit of shimmer," says Planeta. McCusker concurs, "Gold looks wonderful with anything." She is designing a line of custom heritage accessories, including gilded products, called Theo Doré Maison (doré means "golden" in French), which will feature Lucite pieces, gold light fixtures, and antique hand-carved turtle footstools with leather tops and gold leaf accents.
Peppy and Preppy
When Lilly Pulitzer's furniture line debuted in October, fans of the designer's signature prints rejoiced. If design this year is all about feeling good, what can make you smile more than throw pillows in Pulitzer's much-loved hot pink plaid?
And the designer isn't the only one tapping into preppy style. Bold geometric patterns—lattice, plaid, quatrefoil, ikat—are being introduced in classic prepster colors such as kelly green, bright yellow, and hot pink. Kelly Wearstler's Imperial Trellis fabric for Schumacher may be the best example. Offered in citrine, raspberry, and soft aqua, among other hues, the fabric evokes an Old Florida rattan sunroom. It's a timeless pattern, but the color options make it feel fresh and forward thinking.
"I'm seeing a lot of traditional patterns being reinvented with a twist," says Planeta. "Maybe it's something that your mother had in her home, only now it's jazzed up." Check out Romo fabrics at Calvin Fabrics in the BDC for fun, bold patterns that lean toward the preppy trellis look. Says McCusker: "Use those prints for accents, when reupholstering a chair or as the inspiration for a custom rug. Use it as a pop on the back of a chair or as throw pillows. But forget the wallpaper—it's overdone."
photography by greg premru (rivoli); courtesy of the romo group (couch); seth olenick (fabric); matt baldelli (mccusker, turtle)