Home & Garden

Dive — or tiptoe — into the season's bold and beautiful

I am crazy about designers' spunky use of vibrant color and bold pattern this season. We're seeing everything from upholstered furnishings to accents in exciting hues such as coral, turquoise and marigold, bringing to life contemporary and geometric patterns that are as invigorating as sunshine.

Remember the color wheel you learned about in high-school art class, where groups of colors are paired perfectly with one another? Pull it out and use it as your guide when creating a color palette for your room, suggests one of our designers at Nell Hill's, Rich. That way, you'll end up with a space that is harmonious, not chaotic.

"If I'm going with really colorful upholstery, I go neutral on the walls," Rich says. "If I go bold with the wall color, the upholstery is toned down. Then I bring in the wall color through accents, like accessories and pillows. You have to pick one or the other."

Rich just worked with a customer to design an interior that took my breath away. In the client's family room, they painted the walls a warm shade of white to counterbalance the room's exciting palette of navy, turquoise, aqua, salmon, green and yellow. The sofas were covered in a sedate but strong navy fabric, then pepped up with white, yellow, salmon and aqua accent pillows in a mix of fabric types and patterns ranging from Chinese toile to Greek key patterns. The coffee-table ottoman was covered in grass-green burlaplike fabric.

Even a tiny pop of color can have a big impact in a room.

Put a turquoise, apple-green or yellow vase, urn or cachepot on your fireplace mantel, on a sofa table or inside a bookcase. Toss a silk green pillow in a chain pattern on side chairs. Start small and stay in your comfort zone. You'll be amazed by how these little additions punch up your room.

You can also paint a room a vibrant hue. In the house that Rich helped design, the owner was tired of the dated oak paneling in her family room. So, to "de-oak" the room, they covered the built-in bookcases and molding with a high-gloss grass-green lacquer. The effect was stunning.

Normally in the summer, I like to keep my decor light and simple, featuring lots of crisp navy, cream and white in my living room. But this year I'm going to spark things up by adding coral, marigold and turquoise accents.

A fabulous way to work color and pattern into a room is through a piece of upholstered furniture. Cover an upholstered ottoman or side chair in a fresh geometric fabric. Right now we're loving traditional chairs like wing backs covered in fresh, playful botanical fabrics.

You can also bring in color and pattern through window and floor treatments. I'm a huge fan of curtain panels that feature a relaxed pinch pleat, hemmed so they just break on the floor, like a man's trousers. But just because the design of a window treatment is simple doesn't mean the color or pattern of the fabric has to be. Crafting the panels out of a contemporary fabric will go a long way toward updating the look of the room.

Rich called on the power of colorful rugs when he helped our client design her color-soaked home. For instance, in the breakfast room, they featured a red, blue and green Oriental rug under the white farmhouse table ringed by Windsor-back chairs.