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….

a touch of blue

I love a little blue in the kitchen.
It can be cheerful, soothing, powerful, or even neutral.
Blue looks great against dark cabinets, or white cabinets, and it makes a lovely accent.
Plus it pairs well with so many colors; green, yellow, purple, gray, brown, white, black, and my current fave orange!
Turquoise is Pantone’s color of 2010, so add a little blue to your space!
I’ll show you how….

My favorite way is a blue island. An island is a great way to add a bit of color to your kitchen without committing to the whole space.

Love this blue island mixed with white cabinets and open shelving. It feels neutral, but the color adds a little fun to the space! Pic via Urban Grace Interiors.

Another white kitchen with a beachy blue-green island. Classy and colorful. Kitchen designed by Shelley Gordon, via House of Turquoise.

A bold blue island looks great against a brass hardware and a Mexican terra cotta tile floor. Pic via House of Turquoise

Or if you are a little more bold, paint all of your cabinets blue!

This kitchen looks rich and invigorating. The black chandelier over the island punches up the space. Pic via Domino Mag.

This light blue kitchen looks great against the dark wood floors. This is a good example as blue as a neutral. Kitchen designed by Linda Banks.

A blue-gray kitchen adds a little color to this space without being over the top. Kitchen designed by Phoebe Howard.

This kitchen is the opposite of neutral, with bold turquoise cabinets and walls. Rich, classy and saturated… I love it! Kitchen designed by Thomas Britt and Peter Napolitano via House of Turquoise

This kitchen contrasts a maple island with blue-green perimeter cabinets. Modern country done right! Pic via House of Turquoise

Aqua cabinets liven up this kitchen. Pic via My Sweet Savannah

Another idea I Love– cabinets with glass doors and painted interiors. This gives you just a pop of blue and will really make white china stand out. Pic via Simply Seleta

Not ready to commit to painting your cabinets? Paint your walls instead! It creates a great space and is easier to change down the road.

Dark cabinets, blue walls and orange chairs. See how fun blue and orange are together? Pic via Decorpad.

Another place to add some blue is in the backsplash of your kitchen. The space between your kitchen counters and wall cabinets is typically 18″. That is just enough space to add a bit of color and personality to your kitchen.

Kelsey Grammer’s kitchen has a blue patterned tile backsplash. Pic via Decorpad.

A subway tile is a classic look for a backsplash. This subway has been updated in a cheerful blue hue. Pic via Sunset Magazine.

This kitchen features blue mosaic accent tiles and medallion, as well as a dark blue granite counter which offset the creamy cabinets nicely. Kitchen design by Design Manifest. Yep, that’s me :)

Do you like the idea of Blue, but only want it as a small accent? No problem. It’s very easy to accessorize with blue. Small touches can make a big impact.

I love this blue pantry door. Such a nice surprise in this white kitchen. Pic via House of Turquoise

Don’t forget about lighting! This blue light adds a little modern fun to this country kitchen. Pic via Cote de Texas.

I love how this kitchen features blue barstools. (plus a fabulous wood inlay floor!) Kitchen designed by Mrs Limestone.

Open shelving is a great place to display blue accessories. Accessories add so much personality to a space and are easy to change up when the mood strikes you. 

Blue vases add a nice personal touch to this kitchen. Pic via Elle Casa.

An open niche above the refrigerator creates an unexpected display case for blue vases. Pic via Traditional Home Mag

Or be fabulous like designer, Windsor Smith, and paint your whole friggin floor blue! Your probably not brave enough to do it, are you? I’m not!! But I sure do admire it from afar.