Color combinations that work
Inviting Interiors

Color combinations that work


Sometimes, I dream not just in color but about color. I know that may seem strange, but sometimes my best ideas come to me in my dreams.

Recently, I dreamt about and could not get the combination of persimmon, teal, and purple out of my mind. Varying shades of each can make a powerful, but warm and embracing statement, especially when paired with neutrals such as white, gray, and beige.

It can be difficult to describe the use of color combinations without accompanying pictures, but I’ll try.

As you know, interior design colors have their own fashion trends. Unlike last year when some purveyors of “Color of the Year” proclaimed different shades of white to be in, (yes, whites have shades too), Benjamin Moore proclaimed “Shadow” to be its 2017 Color of the Year. Far from demure, “Shadow 2117-30”, according to Benjamin Moore, is a “rich, royal amethyst [that] can fade into the soft lilac-grey of distant mountains or morph into lustrous coal.”

Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year is called “Greenery” and is anything but subtle. It’s a yellowish green. Both colors might have you saying, “Oh that doesn’t go with anything.” But bold color combinations are just right in home décor. Both 2017 Colors of the Year can be used in large or small doses, with or without other neutrals, and as an accent or a foundation for other color schemes.

How you combine your colors conveys a message all its own. If you want to say “fresh and bright” or “welcome spring,” combine Greenery (a spring green) with a subtler jade shade (think of flower stems) with poppy and/or petal (rose). You can pick up this combination in a variety of ways, including on walls, with indoor plants, pillows, and flowers. It is fresh and youthful.

Alternatively, showcase your outdoorsy side with a combination of an earth color (brown), lime green, a grass green and a forest green. The lime green brings the excitement to an otherwise muted palette and can be introduced as an accent piece of furniture, wall, or large accessory. Using greens in home décor is definitely “in.”

For the fans of the movie “La La Land”, primary colors are an exciting way to decorate. Instead of the basic primary colors of blue, green yellow and red, try creating a subtler palette in the same vein with, sky blue, a sunset red, a sunflower yellow and a grass green. It’s vibrant without the shocking effect.

A combination that features warm and cool colors and bright and subdued shades might remind you of sea and land. Colors such as sandstone, burnt orange, sea green and lagoon green will remind you of your favorite island vacation spot and convey a beachy, mellow feel. Therefore, you might use these colors in a bedroom or bathroom.

If you like autumn in New England, try crimson with forest green, rust, and gold. This combination is a classic and works well in a dining room, living room, or family room.

For real drama, try a day-and-night scheme. Combine dark navy, with blueberry, tangerine, and daffodil. I love this look. With something this dramatic, you need to use each of the colors sparingly and balance them against your neutrals. Pick one statement color for a wall, for example, and then use the other colors on your sofa and pillows. Or, in a kitchen, make your island cabinet a daffodil color, top with a dark navy quartz or granite, make your walls or other cabinets white, and finish with tangerine placements.

Finally, when using these exciting color schemes, always be mindful of what is going on in the rest of the house and make sure the rooms blend and do not fight with each other. In other words, please don’t use each of these in a different room of your house!

Deborah Macdonald is the owner of Textured Design Napa. Contact her at 707-255-0246,,

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