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Shane Reilly's Color Schemes

Designer Shane Reilly comes up with a palette that is everything her color-lovin' client wants, right down to orange walls that match his favorite belt.

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Interior designer Shane Reilly loves color. So she was blown away when one of her male clients proved that he loved it even more. "I could tell by his way of dressing, his taste in music and his entrepreneurial business pursuits that he had a desire to do his own thing," she says. When he came to business meetings wearing a wacky hat or a swanky pair of couture lace-up shoes, she knew that his apartment needed to be as individual as he is. "Many of my male clients in San Francisco and New York are a bit afraid of color, but for this client, I knew it was going to be all about color."

And so it was. From vivid orange in the living room to apple green in the office/guest room, the apartment is awash in strong hues that please the client and work surprisingly well together. There is a lesson here even for those who aren?t brave enough to put orange on the walls (which even Reilly balked at at first). "Even if you?re doing a living room in mostly neutral tones, it would be far more exciting to spice it up with a hot red lacquer coffee table or a row of canary yellow and sienna throw pillows," she says. Check out the deconstruction of her color-ific rooms for more inspiration.


Color scheme: rich reds, browns and orange in a variety of textures
The feeling: sophisticated, formal

  • The 2005 Gates project in Central Park helped inspire vivid orange walls.

  • Shades of brown and rust can work together because they?re all in the same family. Here, a rust-colored Holly Hunt armchair is paired with a Donghia sofa in complementary brown fabrics.

  • The sleek elliptical lamp provides a shot of white and metal relief that keeps the rich orange tones from becoming overbearing.

  • Tangerine and sand-colored textiles bring a bit of sheen to the windows.

  • A dark chocolate rug with an orange silk decorative pattern picks up the copper and mahogany sateen on the dining room chairs.

  • The distressed rust dining table and high-gloss ebony coffee table provide contrasting textural interest to the shiny fabrics.


    Color scheme: cool colors with a playful intensity
    The feeling: lighthearted, friendly

    • Apple green walls are bold without being overwhelming when combined with a less-intense blue on the rug and lampshade.

    • Every room could use a bit of black. Here, a side table and houndstooth pillow balance the brighter shades.

    • "When you?re designing with bright color, you have to think of every object," says Shane Reilly: "The red in the flowerpot made the green walls all the more interesting."

    • A bit of refreshing white in the geometric base of the oversized Jonathan Adler lamp keeps the room from being too color saturated.

    • The Lignet Roset sofa is in a soft gray that blends beautifully with the stronger colors.


    Color scheme: greens and blues anchored by earth colors
    The feeling: relaxed, grounded

    • Soft light blue walls add a wash of color but at a more relaxed intensity.

    • A green-and-blue-striped rug reflects the wall color and gives both elements more pop.

    • Chocolate and charcoal accents balance the green-blue scheme

    • Chocolate brown sheets, a white duvet and bright blue and green pillows pull the look together.

    • A green lacquer Jonathan Adler table provides a strong focal point of color.

    More Shane Reilly rooms>>

    Anne Krueger is the editor of's Decorating newsletter. She has written for In Style, This Old House, Martha Stewart Living and The New York Times.

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