Color Theory

By Lesley Myrick

Embrace the fresh start of a new year with bold, unapologetic color

January is all about renewal, revitalization and fresh starts. I think 2017 will be the year that color makes a major comeback in interiors — thank goodness! Neutrals have their place, but it’s time to embrace the colors we love in our homes again this calendar year.

I’ve always been a color lover. When I was old enough to paint my own bedroom, at about age 12, I chose a pale, sky blue for both the walls and ceiling. Given that it was so totally cool at the time, I also sponge-painted a few dreamy clouds for that realistic sky effect. (Spoiler alert: ’90s sponge-painting in no way resembled real clouds.)

I even went the extra mile and purchased matching blue mini blinds, which remain to this day despite the fact the walls haven’t been blue for two decades. There’s a good decorating lesson for you: Walls are easy and inexpensive to paint over, but window treatments aren’t so inexpensive to replace, especially when you’re a teenager working a minimum wage job.

At 16, I painted my walls lime green, complemented with a cobalt blue, vintage dresser and zebra print bedspread. (And yes, the sky blue mini blinds were still there.) I know this might sound like an insane, high-contrast combination, but I always enjoyed spending time in that bedroom. I still remember it fondly as one of my favorite spaces; I was in my happy place in that ridiculous, over-the-top bedroom.

White walls and a spa-like vibe aren’t the only ways to create a so-called restful space — that word means different things to different people. Restful, to me, is a space where I truly feel like myself.

That crazy lime green room captured the zeitgeist of my adolescent years.

This year, the color experts at Pantone have selected the fresh and zesty Greenery — quite similar to my teenage lime green — as the Color of the Year. Greenery is a “yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew,” according to Pantone. I love both the color and philosophy behind it: “Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

And I thought it was just a fun, feel-good color. Who knew one hue could say so much? Then again, every color has the power to evoke subconscious responses. Red is perceived as passionate and aggressive, orange as playful and energetic, yellow as happy and friendly, blue as serene and trustworthy and purple as luxurious and mysterious. And of course, green is natural and stable — exactly what 2017 needs.

If you’re ready for a colorful change in your home but don’t want to go lime green extreme, where do you start?

First, a most important question: What colors do you like? I’m surprised by the number of clients who’ve never taken the time to figure out what they really like, and it’s pretty challenging to make decorating choices if you’re wishy-washy about what you love. Do vivid brights make you giddy, or are you drawn to sophisticated deep shades? Maybe pale pastels make you feel at home or bright primary colors. I’m a sucker for saturated jewel tones: teal, chartreuse, fuchsia, citrine, sapphire. These are colors I’ve always been innately drawn to and are my go-to hues when decorating my home.

Next, don’t be afraid to go bold with color and embrace saturation but understand that color is best balanced with a healthy dose of neutrals. After analyzing many interiors I’ve designed, I realized I’ve subconsciously been using a go-to formula that creates kick-ass results for me: bold color + lots of white + a little black + wood + a hint of metallics = design success!

The color is the foundation and becomes the focal point in the room, because the neutrals — black, white, wood and metal — create depth and balance. You’ll notice in the photo of my living room that the attention-getting yellow wing chairs could become over the top if the walls, floor and accent pieces were also in vivid colors; however, they’re balanced by earthy khaki walls, a mid-tone wood floor, crisp white window blinds and a distressed metallic accent table. Effortlessly livable, not ludicrous, is always my goal with color.

If your home has a neutral decorating scheme (Living in Central Texas, you probably do. I’ve seen enough homes by now to know.), then you’re in an awesome position to swap out some beige this year for a pop of something fiercely awesome. If you’re color-shy, start small. Prismatic accent pillows or a richly hued area rug can be a small, but mighty, color update. If you’re feeling spunky, a lively new wall color or flashy piece of furniture might be just what your achromatic interior needs to ring in 2017 with a colorful bang.