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DECOR SCORE- No Such Thing as a Bad Color? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rose Bennett Gilbert   
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 06:48


An extroverted chartreuse wall covering sets the color pace that carries through a hip new Big City apartment.

Q: Call me crazy, but I love chartreuse! Absolutely love it! But I'm thinking of hiring a professional design firm to do my new apartment, and I am afraid to tell them that I want my walls to be chartreuse. Which should I give up, my color or my designer?

A: Neither. Any interior designer worth his/her fee knows how to deal with clients who are sure of their own taste. In fact, most would do backflips to be given such a specific starting point for any design project.

Hear designer Drew McGukin ( on exactly this subject. Just named a "Rising Star" in interior design by the New York chapter of the IFDA (International Furnishings and Design Association), Drew tells the saga of a young would-be client who had engaged him to create an "elegant and hip" new apartment in Chelsea, New York City.

"When we met to discuss the project, the first thing she said was 'Whatever else, there has to be chartreuse!'" Drew related. "I was struggling to figure how to do chartreuse and still be elegant."

The solution: remarkable wallpaper with wide swaths of chartreuse in the living room that set the color theme he repeated throughout the apartment. "We wove the color through all the other spaces so it all lived together," Drew reported, proving yet again that there's no such thing as a bad color choice.

So you can relax and forget the once-unsavory reputation attributed to "extreme" colors, such as chartreuse and hot pink and even orange. What earlier generations may have seen as "vulgar" and "cheap" have moved confidently into the mainstream. Along with thigh-high boots, waist-deep decolletage and daytime bling, fashion is now in the eye of the beholder, and isn't it fun?

Q: We have the tiniest of guest bathrooms tucked under the stairs on our first floor. There's just a toilet, lav and wall light. What can I do to make it more hospitable?

A: Little baths can mean a lot, depending on your skill with colors and accoutrements. Start by creating an optical illusion that stretches the space. Forget conventional wisdom that says small spaces should be dressed in only light colors: I vote for deep, rich colors and/or patterns that obscure the actual distance between you and the finite walls and ceiling.

Color all surfaces dark, or wrap them in wallpaper or fabric with an overall non-directional design — ceiling, too — and watch how the room "grows" visually.

Another space making illusion: put up striped wallpaper. No, not vertically as usual: install the stripes on the horizontal around the room. As any woman knows when she chooses her wardrobe, horizontal stripes will make everything look wider.

A few more quick tips on space-stretching: mirrors are magic. Hang them on opposite walls, and choose reflective materials for the vanity top. The right lighting is another great asset. Install a line of LEDs under a vanity kickspace to make it "float" weightlessly ... Mount matching sconces on either side of the vanity mirror ... Add a small picture light over any artwork you hang in the bath.

Bottom line: when it comes to welcoming guests, it's true that size doesn't matter.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the coauthor of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 06:50