White, cream, beige—there are infinite choices of simple, safe colors. But when you want to make a splash, you’ve got to take some risks. Done right, using color is well worth it. “People are often timid about using bright colors and multiple patterns, thinking the result will feel busy, overcrowded, or fussy,” says Patricia O’Shaughnessy, a Bronxville designer (914-346-8786/917-328-3246). “But balancing the intensity is key. When you make a bold statement on the walls, you have to keep it going in the furnishings and accessories—when it is balanced, the result is like an oil painting: rich and relaxing.” And definitely makes a splash.
We know it’s scary, so we recommend starting with paint, the least expensive way to dramatically change a room, before committing to wallpaper or tile. “Benjamin Moore makes it easy to try out different color options with its two-ounce sample size,” says Susan Marocco of Susan Marocco Interiors in Bedford (914-234-7066). “Paint a foam core board rather than your walls so you can move it around the room. The paint color will look different depending on the sunlight it receives.” Once you dip your toes into the color pool, we predict you’ll never go back to boring old beige.
Decorative painter Josephine Bisco of JB Paint Effects (914-610-1014) painted the walls in this formal Mamaroneck dining room in Benjamin Moore’s Spicy Mustard in a matte finish. The crown and base moldings and curtain rod are composite gold leaf. The ceiling is a faux-finish latex glaze made up of four shades of purple: Benjamin Moore’s Wild Orchid, Purple Lotus, Black Raspberry, and Dark Basalt.
“I am always thrilled when clients are not afraid to use bold colors,” says Barbara Sternau of Barbara Sternau Interior Design (Waccabuc, 914-631-1875). “Color is the element that has the most impact in a room, and the right color really makes a room sing. Here, we used Farrow & Ball Dragged Wallpaper DR1236. One might think that a bold red is too much for a bedroom, but we installed a lot of white paneling, which minimized the wall space so that the color imparts an irresistible warm glow without overwhelming the room.”
Designer Ronald Bricke of Ronald Bricke & Associates, Inc. in Manhattan (333 E 69th St, New York 212-472-9006) chose a warm caramel shade (Benjamin Moore Cognac Snifter) for this Larchmont dining room. “It’s like a fabulous dessert—you want to dive into it,” he says. “There is serenity and quietness in the space, but it is not dull, not beige.”
DETAILS: The “Nuevo Tango” credenza is from Dakota Jackson with a pearwood finish. The alabaster light fixtures by Stephen Downes repeat the façade of the credenza and give off a wonderful glow. The tabletop is marble, chairs are reproductions of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s design from his project at Villa Tugendaht.
“The homeowner considers her home office to be a tribute to Diana Vreeland’s red drawing room designed by Billy Baldwin, the room she famously requested to ‘make like a garden—a garden in hell!’” says New York designer Ronald Bricke. “Benjamin Moore’s Poppy is the perfect background for the Chinese rugs, porcelain objects, bamboo and chinoiserie desk, and multifaceted glass chandelier.”
Not So Mellow Yellow
“The client, Carol Wolfe, and I were going for family friendly, exuberant color, and a style we called ‘youthful traditional,’” designer Patricia O’Shaughnessy of Bronxville says. “The room faces north and didn’t get a lot of natural light, so we had to ‘manufacture sunshine’ with this deep egg-yolk color, Benjamin Moore’s Lion Heart. We balanced the ochre with shades of indigo blue, a big splash of hot lime, and, of course, pink, pink, pink! The checkerboard wool rug is also bold and provides a healthy platform for those fat stripes on the upholstery. The vertical palm plant helps to give a push back to the low ceilings in these horizontal, boxy rooms.”
DETAILS: The fabrics and accessories, pillows, and the two blankets are by British designer Tricia Guild; the multicolor indigo striped fabric on the sofa and club chair is from Osborne & Little; carpet is from ABC Carpet & Home; paintings on the wall are by the client’s mother, framed to work together as one composition.