Designer Palette: Softly Modern

Softly Modern

Cool grays get a soft edge from pale blue and pink in this color scheme from designer Amanda Malson. The palette is modern, yet graceful in presentation.

Designer: Amanda Malson

Getting Started:

Use a ratio formula to help you put together a color scheme. Choose one main color to serve as 40-60 percent of your color palette, then one to two supporting colors to comprise 30-40 percent of your color palette, and fill the remainder with one to two accents. Thinking of color this way can help you determine how much of each color to use. Go to the next slide to see how this scheme breaks out.

The Colors

Gray isn't as straightforward as a mix of black and white. The hue often has more colorful undertones. In this palette, a soft, yet saturated stars as the main color, ideal for a sofa and scattered throughout the room on other accessories and accents. White comes into play as a supporting, secondary color and would work well as a wall color or played out as the background color of a patterned wallpaper. Navy blue brings color into the mix as the next supporting color. Try it on a piece of accent furniture or large ottoman. A pale shade of blue mixed in via wallpaper or fabric patterns blends in with the other colors, while a second accent color of pink softens the look and adds contrast.

Softly Modern: Shades of Gray

Gray may have a reputation of being one-dimensional, but a little deeper study reveals just how interesting this neutral can be. The key to decorating with gray is to find a gray family and use several shades from within that grouping, ranging from dark to light intensities. Families of gray are identified by a common undertone. Try this trick to sleuthing out the undertone: get several gray paint strips and hold up each against a white sheet of paper. Against white, the undertones will shine through, revealing whether the grays lean blue, green, and even yellow.

Softly Modern: Pattern Mix

Like the right mix of grays is paramount, so is the right blend of patterns. With this scheme, balance soft feminine florals with striking geometric or modern prints. Choose one dominate pattern that bridges the gap between both style camps. In this sunroom, a large floral print on the sofa is the tour de force and can be characterized as feminine because of its organic design and modern thanks to its white-on-black color scheme.


Softly Modern: A Hint of Cream

Ethereal cream softens the stark grays in this color palette. Since grays are designated to dominate, use the creamy white in a supporting role, such as on trimwork. Or look for patterns where the white hue is secondary to the other colors, or is used as a background color.

Softly Modern: Accessories

Accent this color scheme with a hints of brass to warm up the cool coors. Incorporate a brass side table or etagere, hardware or lamps. Use only one or two small doses so that the cool ethos of the palette continues to shine.

Get the Look

Ready to decorate? Shop the products that will help you bring this look home!


Wallpaper: Lotus in Smoke, Galibrath & Paul,

Use for: Walls

Gray Wallpaper: Tweed in Stonehaven Harbor, #5452, Phillip Jeffries,

Use for: Lining the back of a bookcase

Carpet: Rake in Pulp, Celerie Kemble Collection by Merida,

Use for: Flooring

Dot fabric: Confetti Cream, #GWF-2810.18, Kelly Wearstler Collection, Lee Jofa,

Use for: Pillows

Light gray fabric: Nara Dove, #GWF-2807.11, Kelly Wearstler Collection, Lee Jofa

Use for: Upholstered chairs

Blue leather: Wales in Navy, Pacific Hide & Leather,

Use for: Ottoman or bench seat

Dark gray fabric: Lyon Glazed Linen in Tin, #WX 0002 0025, Westbury Textiles,

Use for: Sofa

White fabric: Kaya in Antik, Zak + Fox,

Use for: Slipcovers or drapes

Striped fabric: Sand Strie in Charcoal, #GWF-2813.816, Kelly Wearstler Collection, Lee Jofa

Use for: Pillows

Dark blue paint: Hague Blue, #30, Farrow & Ball,

Use for: Accent furniture

Light blue paint: Skylight, #205, Farrow & Ball

Use for: Walls

White paint: All White, #2005, Farrow & Ball

Use for: Trim

Pink paint: Pink Ground, #205, Farrow & Ball

Use for: Accent furniture

Not pictured: Kaleidoscope 180-553 Sea Coral, Jim Thompson Fabrics

Use for: Pillows

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