Top Interior Designers Share Their Go-To Colors

We asked 11 design pros to reveal the can't-miss shades that make their spaces shine.

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September 05, 2016

Photo By: Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

Photo By: Braun + Adams

Photo By: Heather Hawkins

Photo By: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Photo By: Skout

Photo By: Regan Wood/ Claire Paquin

Photo By: Greg Pallante

Photo By: Emily Minton Redfield

Photo By: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Photo By: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Photo By: Erin Williamson

Photo By: Jean Bai

Photo By: Metcalfe Architecture & Design, LLC

Photo By: Dan Piassick, Piassick Photo

Photo By: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Soft Gray: The Perfect Backdrop

“A soft gray creates a rich, immersive backdrop that can be taken in a clean monochromatic direction or as a visual foil for more vibrant advancing colors,” says Breeze Giannasio of BGDB Interior Design. “It's the ultimate wing man in the color spectrum!” In this living room, the designer let a gorgeous tapestry and colorful furnishings take center stage against soft gray walls.

Pink: Playful Accent

“Not always the obvious choice, we often find ourselves throwing bright pinks in as an accent in otherwise neutral rooms and love the instant life it brings,” says designer Kristina Braun of Braun + Adams. “It can be paired with blues, neutrals and grays equally well to add a playful element, or try throwing in some orange to make it even more cheerful. And the key with pink is that a little goes a long way, so it doesn’t take much to make a big impact!”

Fuchsia: Grown-Up Pink

“Pink is one of my favorite colors to incorporate in projects, and I love the full range of the color,” says designer Abbe Fenimore of Studio Ten 25. “Fuchsia, blush and neon top my favorite hues of pink, and each has its place in design. I love the bold fuchsia version of the color most, but have to keep my use of it in check so that it doesn’t take over the room." Use it in small doses — in throw pillows or in artwork — for big impact.

Bright White: Fresh and Clean

“There is something so effortless about an airy, white environment,” says Giannasio. “A designer must bring her A game to pull white off successfully though — texture and materiality become so important to create dimensionality lest the room fall flat.  When white works though, there is nothing shy about it.” Here, a subway tile backsplash and herringbone-pattern tile floor add tons of movement and interest to a bright white bathroom.

Bright White: Add Colorful Accents

“This is a great example of keeping things white and bringing in color in art and textiles,” says designer Ashley Clark of sKout. “I love whites and off-whites together. These are great colors because there is no yellow in them, but they still feel warm.”
From: sKout

Reds and Oranges: A Warm Touch

“The trend to use cool, gray neutrals is here to stay, but layering these neutrals with warmer colors is essential to keep spaces from becoming too stark and uninviting,” says designer Claire Paquin of Clean Design. “Adding vibrant reds and fiery oranges in the window treatments, accessories and pillows can make a cool, gray backdrop more welcoming and friendly. This analogous color palette of oranges and reds works really well in the fall and winter, creating a cozy environment in which to relax on a chilly day.”

Blue and Gray: Versatile Hues

Unsurprisingly, many designers named blue and gray — two hot hues for interiors — as their go-to colors. "Using these hues on walls, trim, ceilings or in your furnishings will allow you endless color combinations," says designer Javier Fernandez of Transitional Designs. "These colors easily and beautifully blend with any shade of yellow, orange, green, pink, earthy tones or different tones within the family of blues or grays."

Blue: Use It in Layers

“The use of various hues of blue combined with unexpected patterns make this dining room feel fresh,” says designer Andrea Schumacher. “While each element could be a standalone piece, together they create an invigorating curated space.”

Blue: Try It on the Trim

“Painting ceilings and trim in saturated blues or grays elevates the chic factor in any room,” says designer Sarah Wittenbraker. “When making the leap to go bold with wallpaper, don’t let the statement stop with the walls. I like to pull a deep hue from the wallpaper to paint the ceiling, trim and any cabinetry to heighten the drama." These built-in desks went from purely functional to fabulous with high-gloss cobalt blue paint.

Inky Black: Dramatic Accent

“I never tire of black, particularly on ceilings or used for graphic punch through tile, fabrics or accessories,” says Giannasio. “Exteriors, studies, parlors — it's hard to think of environments where it doesn't deserve star status. Bold and chic, I particularly love how it sets off aged brass, rugs with patina, weathered leather and natural fibers.”

Soft Neutrals: Beachy Chic

“I have dreamy coastal associations with soft neutrals,” says Giannasio. “There is an effortless sophistication with this muted palette and can tell a nuanced color story with soft suggestions of color (pale blues, pastels, maize, etc.).”

Teal: Surprisingly Versatile

“Teal is a go-everywhere color,” says designer Erin Williamson. “It has both warm and cool undertones, so it works with a range of hues and styles. I like to go bold on walls because it sets off art like a velvet jewel box.”

Teal: Try It in a Small Space

“Rich and visually viscous, I love to coat cozy smaller spaces with dark, deep teal,” says Giannasio. “Sometimes, the color can go so deep that it is virtually black except in strong light. One trick is to also paint the ceiling with the dark color, so the smaller space appears limitless.”

Black and White: Dramatic Contrast

“I am really interested in using rich black and white images and punching them up with touches of color,” says Alan Metcalfe. “In this case, the grays of the trees are tinted with golds and turquoise.” Working with photographer Julia Blaukopf, the architect and designer created this dramatic mural in his attic bedroom, inspired by the terrific views of trees from his huge third-floor windows. He carried the color scheme into the adjacent bathroom by painting his vintage claw-foot bathtub and sink with the same turquoise found in the mural.

Cobalt Blue: Spanish Flair

“Cobalt blue is my go-to color choice when designing a room in my signature Hacienda Chic style that's rooted in Spanish and Mexican design,” says designer Ashley Astleford of Astleford Interiors. “I love the rim of a cobalt glass when enjoying a fresh margarita. I love the way cobalt glass reflects light, and when you can really see the depths of the color. Vincent Van Gogh said of the color, ‘Cobalt is a divine color and there is nothing so beautiful for putting atmosphere around things…'" As a central color or an accent color in a room, Astleford says you really can't go wrong with cobalt.

Deep Blue-Gray: Soothing Surround

“Home offices and dens lend themselves to this color in my opinion,” says Giannasio. “Rich and enveloping, the blue undertones pacify the spirit and also repress hunger, if you believe the studies! All of that aside, I'm both soothed and stimulated by this color — it's probably an introvert's delight, which makes sense in my case.”

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