5 Color Dilemmas Solved!
Color experts share how to solve palette problems for a bedroom, living room and more.
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My living room is 21x16 and the dining room is 14x16. My condo is in a high-rise in Chicago overlooking Lake Michigan. I have a cream-colored Victorian sofa and matching chair, two blue barrel chairs, secretary, butler coffee table and a 30ish side table and another end table. My favorite color is blue. I have a blue and white Spode collection (not the real deal, of course). Carpet is gray and the walls are gray in both the living room and dining room. What is the best approach to decorating these two spaces, including an entry hall between the two rooms?
—Blue in Chicago
Dear Blue in Chicago,
You might want to brighten up the space with blue and its complement yellow, as opposed to gray walls and carpeting. This will lighten the appearance of the space and enhance your special blue china. It also will coordinate well with your cream-colored Victorian sofa and pull some of that brighter cream onto the walls.
I know you love blue, but in order to appreciate it more, you should use other colors with it, instead of turning everything bluish. Your favorite blues will stand out more with a cream, as mentioned above, colored carpeting or subtle yellow toned walls (be they paint or wallpaper).
Your blue will pop more in a complementary (blue and yellow) colored space, than the one you describe. The issue, and believe me this happens to all of us, is that we have a particular color that we fall for and then splash it everywhere. Remember, when working with your favorite colors, less can be more.
In your description, the spaces seem rather cool, lacking highlights and accent color. Choose a third color for your palette such as soft pink for florals or sofa scarf and toss pillows. This, again, will add to the blue's impact through the use of a third contrasting color.
Your connecting hallway should be, uh, blue? Maybe a highly polished blue and yellow marble checkerboard Renaissance-style floor with hazy blue walls would be the answer.
—color expert/designer Mark McCauley, ASID
Interior designer Jane Lockhart tackles color-challenged rooms, one room at a time.