Kelly Wearstler's 7 Steps to Pulling Off Bold Color
As a designer, I am constantly encouraging my clients to take risks and explore their voices. One of the most frequent questions I get is how to embrace bold color in a space without it becoming too dominant or overwhelming. Colors evoke mood and ambience in a way that is immediate and impactful. Living without color is like living without love. Here is my how-to for embracing audacious hues at home.
The best interiors have a sense of adventure and tell a story. If you know what kind of mood you want to create, what story you want to tell, selecting pieces to fit within that dialogue becomes turnkey. Begin by creating a mood board of imagery that captures the tone you wish to achieve. Create a Pinterest board or a mood board. When you sit back and look at it, you will see that there is a distinctive voice that is yours. This can be easily done by scouring the Internet, going to museums and flea markets, and spending time in bookstores. Make sure you constantly carry your camera and sketchbook.
Is the vibe relaxed? Playful? Decadent? Easy? Or all four? To evoke moody, raw elegance with a touch of androgynous chic, I might choose gunmetal accessories, rich woods, or sexy jewel tones, while pastels and luxe neutrals read as warm, luxurious, and ethereal.
Allow yourself the freedom to experiment. It may take hundreds of paint tests and swatches to land upon the perfectly delectable shade of emerald green. Taking risks is the only way to grow. Trust your instincts. If it does not work right away, simply try something new. Finding your voice is a process. I always tell my clients to look in their closets to see which colors they are most comfortable living their lives in. Stay curious. Be bold. In my experience, a leap into the unexpected always pays off.
Lush neutrals in cool grays, tans, black, and whites are essential. These quiet power players add depth and cohesion to a space. Gunmetal is a chic counterpoint that makes bright orange feel less precious. Crisp dove gray adds the perfect masculine foil to delicate and feminine shell pink. If the wall color is vivacious and loud, a quieter, soothing rug or ceiling will add balance and neutrality.
This is my favorite dynamic duo in designing. They are the final touches on my projects. Bronze and metallic accents pair effortlessly with any shade, adding soulful edge and unexpected spirit. Choose pieces that will highlight your focal point without stealing focus or fighting for attention. A fabulous statement chair that is sculptural can pack a punch.
Complementary and split complementary colors add distinctive voices, creating a vibrant dialogue. To find the perfect shade, consult a color wheel. Pepper complementary counterpoints throughout the space to achieve symmetry and alternative points of interest.
A great statement piece should be celebrated and supported by more innocuous details. I like to incorporate natural elements into a space as much as possible. Warm woods and neutral tonal details harmonize effortlessly with bold, eclectic hues.
The juxtaposition of opposites—masculine and feminine, new and old, raw and refined—creates a sexy tension and adds soul to a home. Choose a focal point that may be an important piece of vintage, work of art, or bold accent wall, and work from there. Curate a balance of materials in texture, scale, and color. Too many starlets in one room create drama. Many different voices may coexist once a hierarchy of elements is established.
Take risks. Love color. Stay curious.
For more color inspiration, follow Kelly on Instagram @kellywearstler.
What are your best tips and tricks for using color? Share them in the comments below.