Design Hints

Hues You Can Use

Pick up hints for a pleasing palette that helps you colorize your home without overwhelming your rooms.

To create a colorful home, you don't have to paint every wall, door and rafter. In fact, overt background color can often overwhelm a space and diminish the contents of the room itself. A neutral backdrop provides more flexibility, allowing you to transform your space easily as your tastes and style evolve; moreover, accessorizing with vibrant furnishings can actually help draw attention to your favorite things -- not detract from them. Follow these three helpful tips from Penny and Donovan Smith's well-aged Vine Grove, Kentucky, home -- as seen in our January 2013 issue -- to amp up the color story of any neutral space. 

1. Incorporate painted furniture into your decor. Distressed painted-wood furnishings, including tables, cupboards, chairs, benches and the like, are both functional and eye-catching. Take advantage of painted pieces by using them to display prized collections. Penny's parlor features a bold country-blue cabinet with white dishware tucked inside, and her prized yellowware pops from the dark recesses of a black cabinet in the kitchen.

2. Combine complementary patterns and textures. Color comes in many forms and textures -- solid to checked, quilted to braided. Experiment with combining a variety of harmonizing motifs by way of window treatments, throw blankets, decorative pillows and rugs, until you find an arrangement that makes you smile. In the Smiths' den, for example, smaller checked curtains complement an armchair upholstered in a larger version of the pattern, and a red-and-blue braided rug boldly breaks up a neutral area rug.

3. Assemble multicolored like items together. Vibrant baskets, yarn skeins, painted bowls, quilts and button-filled jars are just a few items that you can group en masse to create displays that pack a bold-palette punch. From onion-dyed eggs in a glass canister on a parlor table (see the instructions on page 34) to woven handbaskets hanging in the kitchen to pantry boxes stacked here, there and everywhere, Penny ensures that every room features several colorful characters.

Written by Rebecca J. Razo
Photographed and styled by Franklin & Esther Schmidt