Spring Forward And Bring The Outdoors In

Take a cue from Mother Nature: Liven up a home’s decor with color splashes.

Farrow & Ball
Farrow & Ball Jasmine (BP 3903) wallpaper with Stiffkey Blue (281) paint color. Photo courtesy of Farrow & Ball.

By Jennifer Shapira

On the cusp of winter, Pantone gave a solid nod to spring when it announced that Radiant Orchid would be 2014’s color of the year. As we emerge from winter’s grip, the purple hue provides the perfect counterpoint to gray skies, inside and out.

Farrow & Ball wallpapers in Chromatic Stripe (BP 4202 and 4204).
Farrow & Ball wallpapers in Chromatic Stripe (BP 4202 and 4204). Photo courtesy of Farrow & Ball.

Take a cue from Mother Nature: Liven up a home’s decor with color splashes. It’s fitting then, that pink, yellow and blue are going to be big paint colors for spring, says Teresa Balcom, a decorator at McLean’s Color Wheel. They are colors that work well for the walls of bedrooms, she says, but they’re also likely to find a presence elsewhere in the home.

A gorgeous pot on the front steps provides a warm welcome when filled with cheerful yellow daffodils. Hyacinths, in their Easter egg hues, look great on a patio.

Inside, keep the palette neutral. Experts say sweeping in a spring refresh can be as simple as the addition of a couple of throw pillows in the season’s hottest hues.

Understandably, not everyone wants to go bold and repaint an entire room. All it takes is a few color infusions.

Pops of fuchsia and softer pink and purple hues were signals of spring at the High Point Market last fall, says South Riding-based interior designer Sallie Kjos. She saw a lot of brilliant combinations of vivid pinks combined with classic navy and white. And when paired with the trend in Lucite or gold-edged pieces of furniture, the contrast is stunning.

For a recent living room redo, Balcom started with the walls, using wallpaper and paint by Farrow and Ball. She chose Purbeck Stone as the paint color, and the lively, geometric Tessella wallpaper. She chose the neutral gray palette for its versatility: “It works with every color,” she says. To add a bit more excitement to the room’s new gray-blue sofa by Fabricut, Balcom tossed in some throw pillows made by Stroheim in a pattern called Alfresco; its color a strong citron. The result: comfortable cohesion.

“People in general are becoming much more brave with color,” says Sarah Cole, director of Farrow & Ball in Dorset, England. “The biggest shift we’re seeing is people using color in more rooms in the house. The popularity of the accent wall introduced the idea of more colorful rooms, but we’re seeing color used more and more throughout the house,” she says.

“There’s also a definite trend to use strong color as an accent to a neutral space. Furniture painted in bright like Rectory Red, Arsenic and Drawing Room Blue are increasingly being used to add color to more neutral schemes,” says Cole.

Experts say it’s important to note that creative use of color isn’t limited to walls.

“Adding a few throw pillows in a funky fabric is a fun and innovative way to update a space,” says Balcom. “It can be in the fabrics that you choose, it can be on your sofa, it can be a piece of bright-colored furniture,” either bought new or rehabbed, suggests Balcom.

For a quick DIY job, rescue a rocking chair from the basement or a yard sale and paint it a few coats of sunny yellow. The same goes for a beat-up dresser, desk or night table. Breathe new life into the item with a dose of eye-catching color, she says.

Parquet (BP 4105), Farrow & Ball’s interpretation of the classic herringbone parquet floor.
Parquet (BP 4105), Farrow & Ball’s interpretation of the classic herringbone parquet floor. Photo courtesy of Farrow & Ball.

Place the piece in a room that, she calls “calm with color,” and it will surely add drama. Just like the throw pillow philosophy, a new accent rug in an of-the-moment color or pattern can do the trick. A Grecian key, trellis pattern or geometric print can transform the look of a room when placed beneath a glass-top desk or coffee table. And wallpaper in those designs, as well as the still-on-trend chevron, can add personality to portions of walls or behind bookshelves.For an easy color update, add a lacquer tray or bold basket to serve as an uncluttered catch-all for TV remotes or neat stacks of magazines.

For a quick spring refresh, give a soothing, neutral white or gray room a shot of bright color. Purchase a bench and place it at the foot of the bed. Bonus points for added storage below. A plush, cushioned top in a flash of fuchsia or lovely lavender will let you rest those weary bones in style.

Check out pet accessories shops for a new perch for your pooch—select a soft, durable fabric in a kicky print that complements your spring updates.

Now’s also the time to swap out heavier bedding and window treatments to make way for lighter, whiter versions, says interior designer Sallie Kjos. Despite their softness, ditch the flannels for crisp go-with-everything whites. Retire the down duvets until the warmer months and top the beds instead with lightweight quilts and coverlets in whites or pretty pastels.

White bedding is always in style and provides a gorgeous clean slate for changing up any look. Amp it or tone it down, according to the season’s trends. Consider hanging white linen window treatments to catch those spring breezes and create a softer edge. Keep the bases neutral, then disperse deeper pops of color throughout, says Kjos, in pillows, throws, artwork and accessories like vases and decorative glass jars.

Farrow & Ball Parquet (BP 4104)
Farrow & Ball Parquet (BP 4104). Photo courtesy of Farrow & Ball.

Another prime spot for a spring update is the foyer. Start small, suggests Kjos. “Set the tone for what you want it to be.” Sometimes that’s just a matter of switching out a piece of furniture to clearly mark the change in season. Instead of a formal table that might have been appropriate for fall, Kjos suggests brightening up the space with a mirrored side table that reflects light and creates interest. And if there’s seating in the foyer, swap out autumnal tones for spring’s pastels and brights. Bring the outdoors in; set out a tall glass vase of early spring favorites like scarlet flowering quince or pleasing pussy willows.

The same goes for a typically staid mantel, says Kjos. “Most come from the builder in white, and homeowners think they shouldn’t mess with it, so they don’t. But you can do whatever you want to your mantel.” she says. “It’s not a big deal to paint.”

Her suggestion: In a white room with white chairs, consider painting the mantel navy blue, then add a thin, gold-framed mirror and candlesticks, a natural jute rug, a couple of pillows. The result: Instant drama.

“That’s a quick, very inexpensive job that can have a huge impact in a room,” she says. “You just tie it in with accessories and pillows and a throw and call it a day.”

(March 2014)