How to decorate With Color

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Follow the Pattern is a brand new column from furniture maker and upholstery expert (and Home52’s Resident Design Wiz) Nicole Crowder. Nicole is here to show us how to breathe new life into old furniture, reuse and repurpose materials, take chances with color and pattern—and develop a signature aesthetic. Today, she shares her tips for transforming a balcony.


Whether you prefer a neutral color palette or want to throw a rainbow over your home, the colors you pick for your space have a big impact on decor—but also mood and energy. The good news? There are absolutely no rules when it comes to which colors you pick (we’re team helpful guidance over here, not team prescriptive direction).

In my own apartment I like to approach decorating with color with excitement, and choose colors intuitively based on what I want to be surrounded by—or what I believe will make me happy. Do I want the space to be calming or energizing? Or whimsical? I also approach it with the understanding that nothing is permanent, so things can be switched around or altered if it doesn’t work for the space.

Having said that, we can all sometimes get stuck in a let’s-play-it-safe space. To break out of that, here are a few potentially unexpected colors that you may not be considering for your home—plus, all the ways they can be used to reflect even more of yourself and your personality at home.

Eat Your Greens

Greens, greens everywhere! Greens have such a lush spectrum: from pastel mint all the way to the deep emerald and forest green. A lot of times, green is incorporated into homes via foliage and plant life or through accents like a pillow. But I love getting bolder by making it an entire accent wall or by using it on large upholstered pieces like a sofa (yes, in full-on green!), or as duvet covers. Eucalyptus and sage are more pastel shades of green that can be accented with colors like yellow, orange, and red—but also gold, black, and blue. In my apartment, for instance, I’ve painted a large living room wall in eucalyptus as a way to invite calm—but as it turns out, it’s also capable of bringing an entire room to life.

Photo by Nicole Crowder

Get Cozy With Browns

Brown is one of those colors in interior design that gets overlooked, but its presence has taken up much more space in homes and living spaces lately.

Brown is one of those colors that can ground just about any room—and instantly give it warmth. Neutral tones like creams and whites are largely popular because they are such great blank canvases, but brown works in the same way with its varied tones of coffee and espresso, sienna, rust, and chocolate (just those names alone denote richness and sweetness).

Photo by Nicole Crowder

Brown unintentionally came to occupy a large amount of space in my apartment through wall paint, furniture, artwork, and my planters, but also in an unexpected place—my bathroom. Typically, it is assumed that adding lighter colors helps open up a small or dark room. But I wanted a bathroom that felt like it was cozying up to me—and was instantly warming—so I decided to paint the accent wall a rich, burnt Sienna that almost mimics red dirt, a color found in the heart of the South. With brown on your walls, you can decorate using brass details and lush green plants, or artwork that pulls from its palette. And, in its own way, brown adds a certain soulfulness to a space.

Keep Your Cool with Electric Blue

My absolute favorite shade of blue—electric blue—is that very specific shade of saturated blue that feels so sharp that you can almost feel it in your teeth. Known widely as the Yves Klein blue or Moroccan blue for its electrifying personality, its only job is to look stunning no matter how large or small scale its application. Any color you place against it will pop and take on the personality of its own. Pair with a bright pink ottoman, a vividly painted dresser, a terracotta planter, or marigold chair—it lets ‘em all shine.

Let Chartreuse Sing

Chartreuse is one of those very specific shades that if steered a little too light or dark can fail to present in all its glory. And because of how it can look different in changing light, it’s often relegated to an accent piece like a pillow or lamp, which is wonderful, but chartreuse is deserving of a moment all on its own. Invite it to show up on a large wall, or a fully reupholstered chair, or a large area rug. Chartreuse also pairs beautifully with a whole host of colors—a few of my favorites include eggplant, magenta, electric blue, and even a bold, neon yellow. But if you prefer to dip your toes into it first, try a fun gallery of baskets on your wall, a set of chartreuse curtains, or a painted bar cart.

Add Spice With Tangerine

Close on the heels of terracotta having a moment, is tangerine, which I like to consider a sister color to terracotta. While terracotta is a deeper, more clay-like shade, tangerine is saturated and brighter. Using it on the floor via accent rugs makes it an immediate focal point, the warm color drawing you into the space. Studies have shown that warm colors like orange, reds, and yellows naturally stimulate your appetite, so consider painting the frames of your dining chairs tangerine to invite guests to linger around the table longer. Or you can accent a wall with a vibrant piece of artwork if you want something less permanent than painting wood. Either way, there are no wrong answers.

Photo by Nicole Crowder

Which of these colors would you consider bringing into your home—and which wouldn’t you? Tell us in the comments below.



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