Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear Beige, I don't hate you

I am not the type of designer who will suggest an aubergine colored sofa because "it's so in." Give me beige and oatmeal and I will make you happy I swear. I don't like to commit my clients to such gestures unless I know they are going to love that aubergine sofa forever and ever amen. I prefer to keep a fairly neutral background and add punches of color through artwork, accessories, or very localized spaces where I can make an impact. Don't get me wrong, turquoise accent walls have there place and when applied carefully and with intention they can be very successful. And I am also not saying that I haven't used some serious color on some very permanent pieces of furniture (hello lime green tufted chesterfield sofa.) Finally, I am by no means telling everyone to make every surface in their home some variation of oatmeal. I just know, that in the long run, it is a lot easier to change out hot pink throw pillows when your sofa isn't aubergine. I am not saying that color doesn't have it's place (and if you want that aubergine sofa then you should have it), I do love to bring it in, but in a way that can be meaningful and lasting. Today when we are all watching what we spend this is important, it is important to invest in good basics, like that great black dress or pair of heels, you can put them on with anything--interiors work the same way. Start with a good basic background and you can go in any direction from there.

Neutral doesn't have to be beige, brown works too! Here I brought in color through accessories and artwork, but the big pieces are simple and neutral. I could easily change out those pillows and accessories and pick up another color in the artwork or in the rug and create a completely different look rather inexpensively.

When everything else is oatmeal go for the lime green chesterfield sofa. This is a clubroom, not a private residence, there is a difference. But you will notice everything else is very neutral yet it feels rich in visual texture. Creating implied texture through light and pattern is another way to add depth without committing to color. That sofa could be any color and same with the accessories, because of the light quality and the pattern in the carpet there is plenty of visual interest, regardless of color.

All three of the above images are examples of bringing in color through artwork and accessories. By selecting color from one point of interest (a rug or artwork or whatever it is) makes it easy to create a palette that you enjoy. If you love a color in your rug, start with that and use it to create a color combination that is interesting to you and centered around a color you enjoy.

This is successful for several reasons. 1-It is contained & localized, therefor it creates impact. 2-It is high in visual contrast compared to the other walls, if this photo was in black and white you would barely be able to tell that it is a different color. 3. It is unexpected, it gets its ques from the turquoise in the rug, but everything else in the space is neutral so it really pops.

This is the same situation as the photo above. Localized color, one big gesture in an otherwise neutral palette. High visual contrast makes it exciting and the bar stool seat cushions reinforce the concept.

In conclusion I say, Beige I don't hate you, I embrace you and the blank canvas you allow me to work with.


Things That Inspire said...

Preaching to the choir - and I love all of your examples. I have noticed in many aspects of my life (clothes, shoes, interiors, exteriors) that the best plan for me is solid and neutral; the things with pattern primarily and maybe color are the things I get tired of and want to change out every few years.

I bought a pair of purple shoes last week, as an act of rebellion against all of the black and brown in my closet this winter. They sit next to the orange shoes that I never wore last summer. This post makes me realize that the shoes are the punch of color...I just need the perfect neutral dress to wear them with!

Emily Amy Gallery said...

I think applying color to a room via artwork is a fabulous idea. I especially like the image you have above with the bright orange artwork in the otherwise neutral room...gorgeous.

Niki Papadopoulos said...

TTI-I say wear the purple shoes immediately! I am not one for color in my wardrobe, in fact, I am almost always in jeans and some variation of black top, but I love my accessories and that's usually where I grab my color--shoes included!

Emily, coming from you I appreciate that. I am still feeling my way when it comes to art, all I know is it is almost a necessity to me but I couldn't tell you why. But I do feel it is integral to the design process.

Southern Aspirations said...

Just discovered your Blog and happy I did. Love the examples you used and can happily say I LOVE my beige sofa. I'm still working on pulling in accent pillows but it's quite versatile!

Niki Papadopoulos said...

Hello Southern Aspirations! I am so glad you found me! Good luck with your beige sofa, the good thing is you really can't go wrong with the accent pillows, have fun with them!

Distinctive Chesterfields said...

We sell loads of neutral coloured chesterfields - it looks like theyre never going to go out of style. Because people are using bolder wallpaper thats richer in colour and/or pattern, you need an un fussy looking sofa to make it stand out.

Distinctive Chesterfields