Four years back, Lovely Daughter #1 was about to start medical school at USC. LD#2 was about to start City Year. The Hubby and I figured that, instead of pay rent for four years and have nothing at the end of it, we'd buy a place for the girls to live in during their "almost-grownup" time. When LD#2 went on to grad school and LD#1 went on to her residency, we could sell the house or rent it out.
Well, LD#1 is a resident in New York City, LD#2 is a teacher in Boston, and we just rented the house to a new batch of med students. (We seem to like med students.)
As we were house-searching, I noticed this cute mural in the neighborhood. The dull gray sidewalk and the lively mural's colors inspired me to create a design plan. The Lovely Daughters took a few of the ideas and ran with them. The plan sat in my computer until now.
The freshly painted interior walls of the house we ended up buying were mostly painted gray, with white trim. Nice, but a little boring?
I imagined adding bright pops of clear, bright colors against the walls, with plenty of white mixed in. Kind of like these pillows against this grey chair look:
It's an easy look to create. First, pick some fabrics (or paint a few pieces of furniture) in pops of crazy, spicy colors, like mango and hot pink:
Look how fantabulous they look in this room (with walls and trim just like our purchased house, I might add):
If mango and hot pink aren't your thing, try tangerine. I'm not crazy about orange shades, usually. But the way tangerine pops against gray and white is just wonderful!:
Or try shots of cobalt and candy pink:
Why not throw in some turquoise! Poll after poll shows that blue is Americans' favorite color:
Don't forget bright red!:
If you don't have a matching set of dining room chairs, a mishmash of wonderful chairs all painted the same glossy hue--whether it's white or a color--is wonderful. (LOVE that lime green):
(The gray cat is optional.)
If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, try painting the fireplace surround with a pop of color. (By the way--that channel-back chair in the corner? Almost a dead ringer for the two antique-gold channel-back chairs I own.):
All-white furniture and quirky lines make gray walls come to life. Just imagine the blue walls are gray:
Don't have white furniture? Stalk the thrift stores to find furniture with "good bones," like this, then paint it glossy white:
Actually, even chalky white would do. (I just love glossy white, that's all.)
Here's another room with dark gray walls and white trim. Just look how a few, funky pieces, some glossy white furniture, and a pop of color makes the whole thing sing:
If you don't have good art to grace your walls, one of the cheapest, best ways to get a big, graphic bang for your buck is to apply gorgeous fabric right to the wall with old-fashioned liquid starch. You trim it out for a polished, finished look, of course. It gives you a beautiful look that can peel right off if you change your mind or decor in the future. Here, it's yellow fabric on a gray wall:
Through the archway of this living room, below, you can see another big piece of fabric on a dark-mustard colored wall:
Just can't go wrong with that look. And here, below, the walls are much lighter gray, but notice the fabulous mix of printed fabrics in the furniture. Imagine that in pillows, a throw, a table runner, a piece of fabric starched to the wall:
As we were house-hunting, we fell in love with this cottage. It had the most fantabulous view of the Hollywood sign.
It had TWO kitchens and authentic, black-and-white linoleum floors. Some of the kitchen drawers were painted turquoise inside. That's a fun, easy pop of color in a place people don't expect:
It's a bold look, but lots of fun:
In a well-lit kitchen, here's how cute black-and-white floors with pops of red and turquoise can look:
Some rentals won't let you paint a kitchen wall such a crazy color. If that's the case for you, get your color fix by what you add to the kitchen: relatively cheap, easy-to-find things, like pot holders, tea towels, canisters, stirring spoons, etc. can add a great deal of color for very little money.
The cat is always optional.