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DESIGN IDEAS THAT WORK: A discussion of color trends and wall treatments with interior designer Jennifer Taylor

Jennifer Taylor

Jennifer Taylor of Jennifer Taylor Studio admits there are tricks designers employ with creating beautiful spaces for their clients. She shared some of her secrets during a recent seminar at Michigan Design Center, and we encouraged her to tell us more about how color and pattern can transform a space.

Baker Knapp & TubbsIt seems like there are “trends” in color for interiors. Where do these come from?
Color trends come from so many different places – fashion certainly plays a role, but right now we are seeing palettes that are inspired by nature. Color and pattern are all around us – we just need to train ourselves to really “see” it. Think of a zebra – the wonderful contrast of black and white in a bold pattern. This is a wonderful trend we are seeing – black and white used with one bold accent color. You can use this in a subtle way, or you can go bolder with it. The living room photo at right shows a marvelous image from Baker Furniture – a mostly black and white space with just a punch of red in the lampshade, pillow and chair cushion. The use of the red really illustrates the power of color. Imagine that sofa without the red pillow and the lamp without the red shade. It just doesn’t work without all those elements working together. Another accent color would have worked just as well here – pick your favorite!

We can use that idea in a bolder way – see the photo below. The clean look of solid black and white seating mixed with the bold black and white patterned chair and pillows provide the base, and then we see the use of bright green on the recessed section of the wall, the ottoman and accent table. Black framed prints are hung in a grid pattern, adding just the right touch over the sofa. This look never gets old!

RJ Thomas, Ltd.

Henredon Interior Design ShowroomWhat are some other color trends you are seeing?
Neutrals are also really important. Think of smooth stones at the edge of the water. They are similar in color, but each has its own texture, and the way they are grouped creates a pattern of its own. Take a look at this Henredon photo at right. This is a great example of using subtle tone on tone neutral color and mixing the textures. I count five different patterns, plus several neutral shades. Then we have the patterns created by the table frame and the carving on the chair. The fluffy throw has still another texture and pattern is created by the large painting. The little black lamp provides a nice punctuation point that finishes everything off. When you use neutrals, you have to mix up the textures. Otherwise you will have the most boring room in the world!

It seems like many people struggle with which colors and treatments to use for their walls. Any hints?
Yes! First, look up. The ceiling offers a great opportunity to make a space special. It is the largest unbroken plane in any room. You could add some pattern by coffering a ceiling – it creates instant architecture in a room. Or, if you like, color could be applied to match the walls (creating a “cocoon”) or you might stencil a pattern on the ceiling using a different scale than patterns in the room. Colors for the walls and ceilings should be chosen last. Paint is available in any and all shades, and can be blended to exactly match some other element in the room.

Wallpaper is making a comeback, too, but we are using it in new ways. Instead of applying the paper to the whole room, how about framing out a section on closet doors with picture molding and applying the paper to just the framed section? It is a great finishing touch for plain doors. A bold stripe can be applied horizontally – just in a defined area, like a butler’s pantry or mud room. Everyone has one of those small spaces that could benefit from a surprise of color or pattern. It is fun to see glimpses of those areas from the next room. It can make your home really special.

To view a bio and additional work samples from Jennifer Taylor, click here.

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