Mardi Gras is this week — and its colorful mix of cultures brimming with delicious spices is fantastic inspiration for home design. Bold use of COLOR is the new trend in all the design magazines; I think it reflects the times — a bold new world and mold-breaking new administration.
Let the colors of paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, chili pepper, coriander, cocoa and chicory inspire you to spice up your space!
Don’t be afraid — you CAN use lots of bold color without going overboard. My client Hal Hinkle (a big-time greenie) now calls this “the happiest room in his penthouse” on the upper west side — but I had to nudge him into it.
“You want to paint my living room racecar red?!” he’d asked. But when I answered, “Yup,” he said, “Lets try it — it’s paint … we can always paint it over it.” But then he loved it!
Try these tips to help you use rich, vibrant color fearlessly in your home décor:
1. Use neutrals to ground the color
Incorporate lots of natural elements such as natural linen drapery or natural home furniture and fixtures.
Think jambalaya, gumbo, crayfish étouffée. The spices add flavor and color, but are not the main ingredient.
I used neutral window coverings to ground the vibrant red in Hal’s penthouse. You can use anything from a neutral-hued sofa or pillows to a neutral area rug or simply a wood floor.
2. Go for high-impact color, low eco-impact
Many dyes are harmful to the health of workers and the environment. Opt for organic towels, organic bedding, furnishings, carpeting and paint. The “race-car” red I used in Hal Hinkle’s penthouse is from Farrow & Ball — check out their great selection of environmentally friendly paints.
3. Honor the amount of natural light where you live
… and tweak your color scheme to make it fit without being out of place (or, God forbid, garish). I’d never design a Santa Fe motif in New York City. You can see how one wall of Hal’s space looks like a brighter red than the other wall in these photos — just because of the difference in the angle of the natural light.
4. Add culture and color with handmade artisan finds
Accent your spaces with hand-painted vases, handmade floor pillows or meditation cushions, decorative plates and wall art, hand-carved treasures, and shawls or throws to drape over chairs.
Just a few accents, in the deep colors used in many traditional designs, can really “pop” and add drama and energy to a room. And in the process you can help preserve craftsmanship techniques handed down through generations of indigenous cultures.
5. Before you get creative, get inspired
I adore almost everything about the city of New Orleans: its music, food, architecture, people, even the hot weather! I go often to visit my family (my sister lives there) and I’ve enjoyed many (many) Mardi Gras and Jazz Festivals. The vibrance inspires me! So I want to share with you some of my favorite New Orleans sources to inspire you to spice up your home and life:
- I find some fantastic antiques for my clients on Magazine Street.
- The art scene is on fire right now in this town. I recently went down to experience the largest biennial.
- There’s plenty of green-home inspiration in post-Katrina New Orleans, including Brad Pitt’s Make It Right project.
- Music is the best muse! WWOZ in New Orleans is one of the all-around best radio stations featuring truly indigenous American music — including some of the best happy dance music, Zydeco! You can listen online from anywhere to inspire those spicy decorating ideas!
There’s no place like (down) home. IKO IKO all day!