How to Mix Bold Colors According to an Interior Designer

Designers say color has the ability to transform a house into a home. And yet so many people still hesitate to use vibrant hues in their interiors, fearing it will make the space feel overwhelming. However, this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Palm Beach showed us how vibrant colors can instantly lift the mood of any room and inspire others to think bolder. “The impact that color can have in a room is pretty exponential,” says Noz Nozawa, whose brilliant remodeling of the show home’s living room left many stunned. “It’s really powerful to use color in a way that changes your mood or the purpose of the room.”

Luckily, the San Francisco-based designer shares exactly how anyone can decorate their own home with bold colors. Consider this your colorful playbook for your home!

How to mix bold colors in your home

The “Salon” by Peter Pennoyer Architects.

Nickolas Sargent (Sargent Photography)

Be careful

When it comes to figuring out an interior’s color palette, the first inclination might be to stick color swatches on the walls of a living room or dining room. However, Nozawa encourages people to get out of the house and observe what shades they are naturally attracted to when they are out and about. “Take the time to walk around your neighborhood and see which colors catch your eye first and how they make you feel,” says Nozawa. “Understanding which shades you’re naturally attracted to — or not — gives designers a great place to start.”

Nozawa goes on to explain that contacting a decorator, even just for a color consultation, can help anyone better understand how to convert the hues seen in nature into usable colors indoors. Once a primary shade is chosen, you can think about how much space you want that color to take up and what other shades you want it to blend with in the room.

2022 © Nickolas Sargent Photography

“No Bad Mondays” by Noz Design.

Nickolas Sargent (Sargent Photography)

Look at the color wheel

Nozawa advises people to rely on a little color theory to find the perfect complementary color. For example, when working with a vibrant, full color on the warmer side of the spectrum, the designer tends to look to the opposite side of the color wheel to find an equally bold, cool hue that can balance the room. Using the color wheel as a decorating tool can help easily inform the palette and introduce you to new shades.

However, Nozawa is also quick to discover that sometimes the most exciting color schemes come from experimenting and trusting your gut. The designer knew she wanted to use a lavender hue in her design for the living room at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, but the idea of ​​pairing it with delicious olive green and tomato red came to her after stumbling upon a vibrant fabric from Soane Britain . “I think a lot of our most unexpected combinations really came about through simple experimentation — taking physical fabric swatches and paint chips and putting them together to see how they felt,” says Nozawa. “It’s one of my favorite processes in design, it’s just pure curiosity-driven casual tabletop experimentation.”

2022 © Nickolas Sargent Photography

The Goddard Design Group’s Salon Vingt-Trois.

Nickolas Sargent (Sargent Photography)

Stick to solids

For those who are ready to play with bright colors, consider reducing the number of patterns used in the room. Sticking to solids is often an easier way for our brains to process what color is, rather than using multiple patterns that can feel overwhelming. The goal is to find the perfect balance so guests never feel over-excited in a colorful home. On the other hand, if you’re more drawn to prints, Nozawa recommends finding a pattern with a limited color history that can then influence the palette in the rest of the room.

2022 © Nickolas Sargent Photography

“Jewel of the Jungle” by Catherine M. Austin Interior Design.

Nickolas Sargent (Sargent Photography)

shifting boundaries

Some designers might recommend starting small with a few bold accent pillows or a multicolored rug, but Nozawa is a proponent of diving headlong with these bold hues. “When you’re craving change or you want your space to feel more alive, I think there’s something in your gut that tells you to give it your all.” Go ahead and paint or cover those walls a delicious raspberry hue the sofa with blue-green velvet. If you are unhappy with the change, there is always a way to make the room look the way you envisioned it. “At the end of the day, even if you decide you don’t like it, you can affect the mood of a color by overlaying a different color or pattern,” says Nozawa. “No color is static or unchanging. You always change the mood of what a color represents – it just takes some experimentation.”

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