Using color to celebrate character at home


Nothing in the home is quite as mood-altering as the colors and patterns adorning the walls, furniture, window treatments, rugs and accent pieces.

A panel of color connoisseurs spoke with Mickey Alam Khan, president of Luxury Portfolio International, about the recent hike in hues for the home during the August installment of Luxury Hour.

“I think color really makes people happy and brings them joy, so I like to infuse that into all the projects I’m doing,” said designer Amy Vroom, owner and creative director of The Residency Bureau.

In living color

While stuck at home for a large portion of 2020, many consumers began rethinking what was inside, repurposing rooms for new needs and redecorating out of boredom or after realizing they could use a change.

“I think people have become much more thoughtful,” said Patrick O’Donnell, international brand ambassador for high-end paint and wallpaper manufacturer Farrow & Ball. “So, definitely, color is coming to the front.”

Stark whites and plain neutrals are just not cutting it anymore.

“People sort of started going a little crazy with a lack of color or a lack of pattern if everything was done in a more neutral way,” Ms. Vroom said. “And I think that a need for texture and art and color and patterns just sort of became a little more important to people’s lives.

“People are seeing how color really makes them feel,” she said. “It’s very emotional.”

Color choice will change the mood of the room. Image courtesy of Farrow & Ball

The effects of color on mood have been well-studied, and after spending so much time indoors homeowners may have noticed they needed a boost.

“I have a very agnostic relationship towards the grey palette,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “It’s not somewhere that makes me particularly happy, and I kind of grit my teeth when I walk into grey spaces, so I love the fact that were moving on from that.”

Color-choice should always be about what will make the homeowner happy. It can also be a way to remain calm amidst the outside chaos by going with green or other soothing tones.

Personality is put on full display inside any home, and the various shades of décor are a key indicator for the outside observer who has been invited in thanks to endless Zoom parties and business meetings.  

“There was sort of an epidemic of the idea of creating this background for us that was, in one shot, able to tell about our personality,” said Julia Buckingham, founder and principal of Julia Buckingham Interiors, of the small view behind a person on-camera.

“What’s interesting is that as I’m looking at everyone’s backgrounds, it does identify them,” she said. “More than any time that I can remember, color and expression in your home really shows who you are as an individual.”

Even after video chats fall by the wayside, color is an important way to showcase the homeowner’s personality.

“I think the most successful rooms are those that talk about you as a person,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “Homes should be decorated to represent the personalities and people that live there.”

Outside the lines

So, what rules should be followed when going bright, bold or dark?

“I would probably say that there are no rules, so start there,” Ms. Vroom said. “Throw that out the window.

“It’s the balance,” she said. “It’s that magic in the middle.”

Color and pattern mix easily when kept in the same family. Designed by The Residency Bureau

While the panelists all agreed on that point, they did all share some things to consider when it comes to color.

“You don’t want to make a home feel like it has way too much color,” Ms. Buckingham said. “I think that’s distracting. It can be almost overwhelming.

“There’s something to be said for a monochromatic feel on the walls,” she said. “We’re shying away from accent walls.”

Keeping things in one color family or a well-curated palette will help to avoid color overload.

“I talk about neutral families, or total groups, which kind of goes back to that monochromatic feel, but with different layers and strengths of color,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “And then you can start bringing in some dark accent notes.”

No matter the hues chosen, it is important to master cohesion in a way that ties all of the elements in a room, and home, together.

“Having a connective tissue, that thread that connects from space to space — that’s the theme, so to speak, that’s going to carry through the entire design that’s going to make it feel cohesive,” Ms. Vroom said.

Moody blue

Making a mood board creates a visual representation of the room and is a way to find that perfect connection.

“Bring in your other elements,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “Cut out pictures of the furniture you’ve got, have swatches of your fabric.

“For me, paint on the wall is the cohesive glue,” he said. “It brings everything else together.”

The homeowners themselves, too, should never be lost in the shuffle.

“I think that we need to make sure the space is emotive of the person that’s going to be inhabiting it,” Ms. Buckingham said.

Layering in personal touches and treasures is the finishing touch that any home needs, and that many consumers do not know how to handle despite being one of the most important.

Mixing color with personal art and objects gives the final touch to a room. Designed by Julia Buckingham Interiors

“Accessories, art and artifacts are key and integral to every single solitary project and every space, no question about it,” Ms. Buckingham said.

Again, it goes back to personality and rooms representing the consumer, Mr. O’Donnell said.

“I like stuff everywhere because it’s sort of bits of me or bits of people I love, memories of my travels, so I always have loads of stuff,” he said.

Those are the things that tell the story of the homeowner, Ms. Vroom said.

“Those are the things you want to have out on display, so as somebody walks through your home it’s a reflection of you,” she said.

HOMEOWNERS SHOULD NOT worry too much about their personalized décor affecting a potential sale.

“From a marketing perspective that listing is going to stand out,” Ms. Vroom said.

Although often advised to stick to neutrals to sell a home, those listings all start to look alike.

A more colorful home “has sort of a designer feel, there’s been some critical thinking behind this,” Ms. Buckingham said. “Which, I think, adds value. People want to have more fun. They are eating up those houses.”