Ten Tips: Color

Three decorators share their secrets to using color in a home.


By Lila Edythe

Different wavelengths of light blend to produce tens of millions of shades of color. We’re able to discern about ten million of them. That’s a lot. Despite the number of colors we can see and color being everywhere around us, when it comes to color in our homes, we’re split. An all-white space can be incredibly soothing or it can feel terribly cold. Dwelling’s Kate Binger says half of her clients  “are head over heels for lots of color and the other half are really scared of it.” Whatever camp you fall into, you should find something you can use in these tips from three of the area’s designers/firms that are known for their approaches to color.

Colors must fit together as pieces
in a puzzle or cogs in a wheel.
[ Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann, 1880-1966 ]


Designer Kate Binger worked with clients who didn’t want to totally commit to color to bring personality and pop into this guest bedroom.

Photograph by David Agnello
Photograph by David Agnello
  1. Start with a neutral grounding point like these floors, which are plain hickory that I used a charcoal stain on.
  2. Layering a colorful rug over a neutral one allows the punch of color to not be so bold against the hardwood floor.
  3. If you get a colorful rug, get one in a size that can be used in multiple places. This one is 8×10. That way, if you decide you don’t like it in one room, you can move it to another room.
  4. If there are neutrals throughout the room, I like a big punch of color on the walls. This Marshall Noice painting fits the bill. Like the colorful rug, it is a size—42 inches—that would work elsewhere in the house.
  5. Lamps are a low-commitment piece. These are finished with an emerald porcelain glaze and have white linen shades.
  6. I like playing three colorful pieces off each other in a room. Here it is the rug, lamp, and painting. This allows your eye to move around the room and feel balanced without being overwhelmed.


Drawing inspiration from the remarkable natural beauty of its surroundings, WRJ Design imparts the serenity, layered textures, and subtle color variations of Jackson Hole to the timeless sophistication of its residential interiors. Here the firm shares how it used color in a client’s game room:

Courtesy WRJ Design
Courtesy WRJ Design


  1. Bring outdoor colors in: Mirroring nature’s blues, grays, and greens connects this room to its outdoor context, opening and expanding the space.
  2. Subtle gradations of color add texture and warmth, like the monochromatic gray of this area rug, which also grounds furniture on the home’s concrete floors.
  3. Use color to surprise for extra impact, like the unexpected pop of blue on the interior of these Poltrona Frau swivel chairs.
  4. Throw pillows provide a quick way to translate the room’s blues and creams through eye-catching color blocks and patterns.
  5. Mine a favorite piece of art for color ideas. This blue and earth tone landscape marries exterior views with the interior thematically, as well as offers color inspiration.
  6. Plants provide color with living texture and nature’s infinite variation. The centerpiece complements exterior rolling hills with a central focal point of green.


Grace Home Design’s Jen Visosky has a simple guiding principle when it comes to color in a home. “Just use it!” she says. Visosky used plenty of color in this living/family room.

Photograph by Carrie Patterson
Photograph by Carrie Patterson
  1. I always have one showstopper element in a space. These punchy window treatments in red and turquoise No. 9 Thompson “Papaver” fabric provide texture and movement for the eye.
  2. A graphic David Adler rug offers contrast to the wild Roman shades. The trick to bold, bright colors is balance.
  3. The sofa is covered in Pierre Frey’s neutral “Antigua Raphia” fabric, which allowed me to use window treatments that had a pop of color. I added texture and fun with pillows made in Mongolian lambswool.
  4. I chose crisp white side tables, breezy lamps, and a modern-meets-rustic wood and acrylic coffee table because of their ultracool “chic cabin” flair. And, they also tie the shades to the rug, which is critical when combining patterns.


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