Over to the Dark Side…

by Amitha Verma Interior Design, www.amithaverma.com

I was discussing the merits of painting a bedroom a dark color with one of my Houston interior design clients recently, and her first issue was, ‘But won’t it make the room look smaller?’

It’s funny how often the same question comes up; it seems that is people’s main concern when it comes to experimenting with darker wall colors. Which is a shame, because many times I feel the introduction of a dark shade can add a real element of drama, elegance or sophistication to a space. As to whether it makes the room look smaller – well the answer to that is, it depends on the room. Large rooms can afford to be painted in dark colors; it creates a feeling of richness, of enveloping coziness. This can be really useful in an overly large reception space or foyer.

(Source: House Beautiful)

In a smaller room, a dark color can still work well when paired with the right furniture. Too many pieces, and the room starts to feel cluttered and cave-like. Instead, a few simple, tailored items can contrast beautifully with a dark wall paint and make a real impact.

(Source: Veranda)

I love the effect of crisp ivory pieces like the classic Louis XIV chair in the picture below against a deep charcoal wall. With all the furniture and furnishings in such a clean, fresh shade, the walls look elegant rather than overpowering.

(Source: House Beautiful)

Of course, the less furniture you have in the room, the greater the impact. How perfect is this deep, dark chocolate shade in an entrance hallway that boasts only a hot pink statement sofa and a few pieces on the wall?

(Source: House Beautiful)

If you like the idea of creating a space with dark walls, but are not sure if you could live with it in your main areas of rest and play, how about experimenting in a powder room?

(Source: Windsor Smith Room in a Box)

A dark color like black or navy blue is perfect for creating instant drama in that small space, and if you contrast the color with a marble sink and shiny fixtures in gold or polished nickel, you’re sure to love the look!

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Gorgeous Gray: Busting the Myths

by Amitha Verma Interior Design, www.amithaverma.com

Pewter, charcoal, steel, smoke, slate – in all its incarnations, I love gray. It’s not just because of its calming properties either – when used effectively, it has as much impact as a brighter shade, though many of my clients tend to be suspect when I suggest using gray in their interiors, and dismiss it as a ‘non-color’. Why the negative feelings towards gray? People tend to have some preconceived notions about this shade… myths that I intend to bust right now!

Myth #1: Gray is depressing

When people say to me, “Oh, I could never live with a gray room… it would be too depressing,” I just want to prove them wrong. Gray can be light, playful, ethereal – it all depends on the way it is used. Take a look at this gorgeous room which makes use of lots of natural light and several different shades of gray.

(Source: Veranda)

I love the elegance of the draperies, the classic charm of the Louis XIV chairs, and the sheer drama of the chinoiserie screen in pewter and ivory. Depressing? Not even a tiny bit!

Myth #2: Gray looks cold and uninviting

It’s not in the spectrum of conventional warm colors, true, but gray doesn’t have to look cold. I came across this darling little window seat dressed with very cozy looking – and extremely inviting – cushions in shades of steel gray. A little bit of tufting, texture, rich fabrics and clever setting, and you have a cozy little nook that is anything but cold.

(Source: House Beautiful)

Myth #3: Gray looks dingy

It’s a common misconception that gray walls look old or tired, but I’ve found that nothing could be further from the truth. Case in point: this ultra-fresh, sleek-looking bathroom with classy gray limestone walls. Set against the aged granite floor, and complemented by simple monochromatic paintings, the overall look is modern and bright.

(Source: House Beautiful)

Myth #4: Gray is boring

Why is it that people insist gray is a ‘boring’ color? I love the idea of using gray in a foyer to create a sense of elegance; in a bathroom to enhance light and space; in a bedroom to keep the ambience calm and serene. I love this quirky, cozy bedroom with its lush dove gray taffeta curtains.

(Source: Elle Decor)

With the fresh white bedding, gilt French mirror and vase full of cherry blossoms, the effect is so charming. No one would dare to call this bedroom boring!

Myth #5: Gray doesn’t make a statement

Some of our clients are used to seeing bold colors in other people’s homes, and they assume you would have to paint a wall deep red or rich blue or vivid green to really make a design statement. The truth is, gray can be dramatic too! It all depends what you contrast in with. In this foyer, the white sconces and tulips really stand out against a deep gray background, and the simplicity of the French console and the mirror help to emphasize the play of color.

(Source: Veranda)

So – are you convinced yet of the merits of gray? I hope I’ve gone some way towards showing you the beauty and versatility of this great shade. Till next time…

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