How to mix a Colorful Sofa into a Neutral Room

We had a pretty successful initial design presentation yesterday with our new Chestnut Hill clients and they surprised me by being pretty open to velvet teal sofa.  This space is going to be soft, pretty and fresh with a blend of traditional and modern pieces.  I envisioned using various pastel tones of grays, blue-greens and lavenders in a mix that felt mostly neutral  One might think that throwing something bold like a colorful sofa into the mix would automatically make the space overwhelmingly colorful.  On the contrary, I picture one stunning, grounding colorful moment with a pretty muted palette mixed around it.  Forget the pop of color on the pillow, this is a more elegant grown up version.

So how do you successfully mix a colorful sofa into a more neutral room?

1.  Limit your use of accent Pillows

how to use colorful sofa in neutral room- teal sofa no pillows

image source

I know, I know, pillows are super fun, but I noticed a common themr amongst stunning rooms with colorful sofas- Very Few Pillows.  It makes sense really, if you are going bold on the sofa, shouldn’t the focus be on the sofa instead of the pillows?  I’m not saying no pillows, but don’t use pillows for big personality, maybe just soft colors, quiet patterns, etc.

2.  Keep the rug Neutral!

how to use colorful sofa in neutral room- neutral rug

Studio MRS

With a bold sofa, it is really essential to keep the other big pieces simple.  Nothing takes up more space in the room (visually and physically) than the rug.  To maintain a neutral feel, stick with a sisal, creamy Moroccan, of a softly colored patterned rug.  We aren’t doing white in our space (hello it’s a family room with little kids!) but it will have a quiet, yet interesting feel to it.

3.  Place the Sofa in front of a window

how to use a colorful sofa in neutral room- in front of window

Ashe and Leandro

Instead of making a statement with a piece of art over the sofa, it can feel very serene to have the sofa in front of a large in window.  Obviously it doesn’t work in every scenario, but it will work in our layout and I think it will help the room feel more neutral.

4.  Limit your color pallet to two colors

how to use colorful sofa in neutral room- similar tones

The sofa doesn’t need to be the only color in the room!  Go up a few tones on your color wheel to find softer tones that coordinate well without feeling too busy.  Choose a completely different color that works well as your second color.  I love the use of lavender in the room above.  By limiting the pallet to two colors the room will feel softer and more cohesive- thus more neutral.  Note that I don’t consider white or gray “colors” so feel free to mix them in with wild abandon as well.

5.  Mix More Textures, Less Colors

how to use colorful sofa in neutral room- blue tufted sofas tamra sanford

Tamra Sanford via Erika Brechtel

For a softer feel mix varying levels of the same tone in different textures (velvet, shimmery, furry, matte.)

6.  Resist the urge to repeat your sofa color 

how to use colorful sofa in neutral room- mix neutral chairs

It can be tempting to do an accent chair in a coordinating pattern that ties into your sofa color.  That’s fine and good, but it will take you away from a soft, neutral feel real qick!  A little color goes a long way, so keep the accent chairs white, cream, gray or a coordinating softer color.  Keep the other Upholstery Neutral instead of Matchy.

7.  It’s OK to Match a Little.  Pick one Tie-in Piece.

how to use a colorful sofa in neutral room- tie in with art

Leverone Design

Wait did I just totally contradict myself?  Whatevs.  I think you can repeat your color ONE Time.  I love how the art ties into the colorful upholstery the room above.   This was one of my main inspiration for our design.

We still have a lot to finalize with our Chestnut Hill project and our client has not committed yet to the teal, but I’m starting to get pretty excited!  What do you think… Is the concept of a colorful sofa in a neutral room make sense to you?  Or do you think of “neutral” in a more strict non-color terms?

Fabric Pairing of the Day

I will never tire of a good geometric/ floral pairing and I’m really feeling NAVY BLUE right now.  

What is it about dark florals that make me so giddy?  I think it’s because they bring the drama and tone down the girly aspect that typically comes with florals.  

This pairing is feeling traditional yet hip to me and I just wanted to share with my fabric-loving friends.

Floral- Bassett Mc Nab “Cassandra”

Geometric- Kravet “Xu Garden”

just because…

Blue, I thought I was over you.  I thought as soon a Pantone named Turquoise color of the year, I would pack my bags and move onto brighter and more sunny shades.  But the fact is, that when done right, you are simply stunning.  Rich and moody, or energetic and powerful, and so accommodating in the way  you work with just about every other color.  Trend or no trend, I need a bit of you in my life.

Oops! Yellow, how did you get in there?
Like the heading says, just because…
Image credits:
1. Cheryl Tieges home, C Magazine via KatieDiD, 2. Vogue Magazine 3. via Greige 4. Elle decoration France via City Sage, 5. Found Market/Scott Laslie, 6. Decor Demon, 7. Lucas Allen Photography via Desire to Inspire 8. via You are My Fave

Blue Walls

Confession #1:  I love Color.  Confession #2:  Color on My Own Walls Scares Me.  What’s up with that??
Construction is strumming along (mostly on schedule, can you believe it??), and in the near future the Boy and I will need to pick paint colors. Cue constricted chest, hue panic, chromatic anxiety.  What if I choose wrong?  I don’t want to Go Bold and then want to gouge my eyes out.  Or Go Soft and face the fact that I settled for Safe each and every day of my life.

So I’m trying to sike myself up, because while part of me would be quite happy with all white walls, and smartly accented wallpaper bits, THAT is not going to happen in this house.  Today’s color of choice:  BLUE!

I enjoy blue.  Navy and Cobalt are rich and strong backdrops for most other colors.  Thanks to Erin, I have been fully educated in the joys of Yves Klein Blue.  Don’t know about it?  Go forth and learn.  I used to love turquoise, but since its been named color of the year, I love it a little less.  Damn you, Pantone.  I like my blue rich, think Peacock.  Here are some rooms that work for me…

Antony Todd
I know some people don’t like accent walls, but I think the strong blue is balanced by the white wall.
Annie Schlecter via Design Crisis
Actually I think I like these bold walls better in small doses.  How about that pink sofa against the wall?  Love the contrast.  And I am NOT a pink lady.
canadian house and home
Like the Blue on these walls, but I think the blue rug is too much. 
elle decor via lampshade
YUM sums it Up.
Blue, white and black is a stunning combination.  But personally I crave more color than this.
via Architectual Digest
Marilyn rocked the Blue!
Oliver Furth via Style Court
I like how this room has bold blue walls, yet still incorporates green chairs and other colors through art and books.
Love the blue background Katie uses to display her goodies.  This would make a great wall color!
Is Blue bookshelves cheating?  Lurve me this space.
Blue and gold makes this ooo lala space.  Again, why a blue rug with the blue walls?
The blue walls do the talking, but the pink flowers make me smile…
If I do a blue room, I want more than just blue and neutrals!  So many colors work with blue, there is no reason not to add in the rainbow.  
Here is one pallet that Cassandra put together than I enjoy. 
Don’t you just love her pallets she creates?  This one made me realize I could even like light blue!! (When paired with coral)
So perhaps a bedroom or office will get a coat of blue paint.  Not sure yet….

birthday wish list

It’s my birthday week.  I am NOT a birthday person.  This year, is particularly hard as the house renovations have me totally tweaked out to the point that I barely feel human right now.  I thought it might make me feel a little better to devote the rest of this week to things that make me happy.  So today I have compiled an imaginary birthday wish list.  Just a few self-indulgent items that make me twinkle for a few bright moments.
In no particular order…

1.  These pillows by Madeline Weinrib, because I can never, ever have enough pillows.

And I love these two combined together- the crisp black and white chevron against the colorful embroidered Suzani.  While I enjoy the designer pillows, and would surely appreciate the quality, I’d also happily settle for discounted fabrics like this and this sewn into new covers for my existing cushions.

2.  Photography classes and a great camera to help me capture moments of beauty.

wish I could capture Philadelphia the same way Scott Frederick does…

3.  Three Moroccan lanterns to go over my dining table.   A mixture of spheres or shapely pendants would suit me nicely.  It works triple time- Romantic lighting for dining, Bouncing Reflecting beams for our dance parties, and pretty pierced metal for every hour of the day.

4.  A really good book that I am unable to put down.

5. A week in St Thomas with my hunny and some good friends.

6. A bubble Bath

I don’t care for Christina Aguilera, but I do dig her bathroom.

7.  A new bag.  Something lovely and designer, that makes me feel like a million bucks.

8.  My chairs.  My dear Marais A / Tolix chairs.  I’d sure love 6 of them….
I’ve tried to forget about them, but NKP keeps posting images that leave me lusting…
 Stop taunting me, Girl!
 9.  Tori Burch’s modern moccasins.  And the ability to walk in them without being in Pain.

10.  Cocktail Rings that I adore and remember to wear.

via shop found studio
11.  Wisteria’s Peacock Mirror.  Because every time I see it I gasp with delight…
 This one actually IS an antique!
12. A few shopping sessions with a personal stylist.  In general clothing and acessories leave me dumbfounded.  I’d love some help better matching my personal look to my interior aesthetic.  These would be nice…. (note they include my bags mentioned above!)
13. Cooking Classes.  As I want lots of tasty dinner parties in our new home.
14.  A headboard.  Because I do not have one, and I wont feel like a proper adult until I do.
 But I would settle for anything that is wood and carved with an antiqued feel.
 like this.
15.  A Really Good Mix Tape.  That I can dance to all by myself. 
16.  This Uzbekistan embroidered silk suzani tapestry.  I enjoy the tree of life.  Could be a nice throw over a sofa, or at the end of a bed.
17.  Flowers.  Bi-Monthly.  Delivered by My Boyfriend, with a Kiss.

…. So there we have it- a slightly outrageous birthday wish list.   Do I feel better?  Not really.  But it was fun to play anyway.