Interior Color Schemes

Three designers serve up three gorgeous interior color schemes.


Interior Color Scheme: Modern Mediterranean

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Peach is a color that sometimes gets a negative reaction. But San Francisco designer Patrice Cowan Bevans sees a different side of it -- one that's fresh, flexible, and worthy of launching a palette. "There's a lot of energy behind this peach," Bevans says. "It's a warm, red-based shade that¿s more terra-cotta than pale." Espresso is the game-changer, adding a dark accent that along with aqua gives the palette a modern edge.

The Colors: (from top to bottom)
Natural Wicker OC-1; benjaminmoore.com
This warm neutral works well for large pieces.
Jamaican Aqua 2048-60; benjaminmoore.com
This vibrant aqua dds the pop. Match small upholstered pieces and pillows to this hue.
Raisin 1237; benjaminmoore.com
Try this reddish brown on trim, using a semigloss finish.
Porter Ranch Cream 148; benjaminmoore.com
With a hint of peach, this cream takes the starkness out of white ceilings.
Intense Peach 081; benjaminmoore.com
A warm shade that's like a comforting blanket on walls. If you're color-shy, limit it to a feature wall.

Patrice Bevans' Color Scheme Tips

1. Think of places or things that spark a positive emotion. "If you go with what inspires you, you'll enjoy the palette without hesitation," Bevans says. Something tangible is easiest--Bevans' patterned pencil bag inspired her colors.

2. Extrapolate, don't duplicate. "Pinpoint what color in the inspiration piece grabs you first, then build from there," Bevans says. "Don't worry about exact matches. Play around." For example, a burgundy color in an inspiration piece could translate into dark brown.

3. Don't get hung up on paint names; they can sway you to choose a wrong color or scare you away from a good one. "They're just labels," Bevans says. "I never initially tell clients the paint name, because they get wrapped up in the mental image the name conveys."

4. "A piece of fabric or a throw pillow can lay the groundwork for a palette. Think of it as a compass for pulling together a color scheme," Bevans says.

Interior Color Scheme: Spring Renewal

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When friends ask Little Rock designer Cortney Singleton for inspiration for a can't-go-wrong color scheme, she often tells them to look out their windows. "Nature doesn't make mistakes," Singleton says. An overcast sky inspired this palette of washed-out gray-blues and golden neutrals. A vibrant green gleaned from budding foliage adds energy. "It's that touch of new life associated with spring -- a surprise pop in an otherwise subdued and classic color scheme," Singleton says.

The Colors: (from top to bottom)
Ivoire SW6127; sherwin-williams.com
This golden-tone neutral doesn't wimp out. Use it both on walls and for draperies to create a soothing, seamless background.
Underseas SW6214; sherwinwilliams.com
A moody blue adds intrigue. Try it as a feature wall or match to furniture.
Hazel SW6471; sherwin-williams.com
A change-up to the usual white ceiling or as a secondary accent color, this soft blue delivers a subtle punch.
Antiquity SW6402; sherwin-williams.com
Use this olive-y green in tiny dabs.
Macadamia SW6142; sherwin-williams.com
This midrange neutral is a solid choice for upholstered pieces.

Cortney Singleton's Interior Color Scheme Tips

1. Choose the one most important color that will set the mood you want. "I wanted the look and feel of a stormy afternoon, so the first thing I did was find a moody blue," Singleton says.

2. Pair with a neutral -- every palette, no matter how bold, needs one. If the starting-point color is heavy or muted, the neutral should be, too. "They need to balance one another," she says.

3. Find a fabric that has all the colors you like. "You need one anchor piece that everything is tied to," Singleton says. "A patterned fabric is so easy -- it hands you a palette."

Interior Color Scheme: Seaside Neutrals

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"Beachy" and "spa" are words Washington, D.C., designer Liz Levin hears time and again from clients wanting to redo their rooms. So she married the two into one relaxing palette. A pale blue, her starting point, offers spa-inspired lightness and crispness, yet still has the watery hue associated with the beach. Driftwood, which can look gray, silver, or brown, warms the cool blue and white. The airy palette is a twist on the heavier brown-and-blue schemes popular recently. "This is the room equivalent of a breath of fresh air," Levin says.

The Colors: (from top to bottom)
Frappe 6003-1B; valspar.com
A medium-tone neutral is good for pieces that need staying power.
Ice Rink Blue 4007-5A; valspar.com
This grayed blue is a sophisticated backdrop that won't scream for attention.
Safari Beige 6006-2B; valspar.com
Chocolate brown adds heft to an airy palette. In small shots -- curtains, chair legs, frames -- it won¿t eat up light.
Dove White 7002-7; valspar.com
It brightens trim without looking cold.
Please note that the actual colors may appear different than what is displayed on screen.

Liz Levin's Interior Color Scheme Tips

1. Determine your style. "Do you want the room to be modern or traditional, calming or energizing?" Liz asks. The answers will steer you toward inspiration pieces -- a graphic rug, for example -- that can set the tone for how colors will mingle.

2. Categorize colors as light, medium, or dark. "Your palette should have some in each category," Levin says. "A fail-safe option is to keep large items, such as a sofa, in the medium range and then punch things up with light and dark accents."

3. Choose paint colors last. "Paint should tie everything together, not be the thing that defines the room," Levin says. "I usually like walls to be the softest element so they don't scream at you--plus that's the safest way to not make a mistake."

4. "Think of wood pieces--tables, chair legs, picture frames--as having a color. They can read as light, medium, or dark depending on the finish, so you can't ignore them," Liz says.

Please note: These colors on screen may look different than the actual paint colors.

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