South Florida homes cry out for color on the walls. We have the sea, the sand and year-round tropical greenery visible through windows and sliding glass doors. We have plenty of year-round sunlight to allow us to use deep or bright colors as well as pastels.
And yet many homes are still awash in a sea of beige and white. Look at some of the bold color alternatives that creative designers have made here, and pluck your own choices from the rainbow.
By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
Not everyone is courageous enough to paint the walls raspberry. Designer Robin Weiss made the bold choice for the living and dining rooms of her Bermuda-style vacation home on Palm Beach. The residence, which was featured in the May 2013 issue of Traditional Home, generated a lot of buzz because of her bold use of color.
“A lot of times clients want to do color and miss the mark, but she pulled it off,” says William Wietsma of Wietsma Lippolis Construction, the builder. “If you miss it, it’s an eyesore.”
Their primary residence is in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Weiss says most folks stick to Navajo white on the walls.
“I just felt I wanted to do something bold because I thought the room could handle it. A lot of light was coming in one side. The ceilings were fairly high and as long as I used white trim I felt I could carry it off.”
And she did carry it off beautifully, despite some skeptics.
Her inspiration piece was Bengale, a raspberry and orange toile fabric by Manuel Canovas. She hired faux finisher Linda Turk of Faux Works Studio in Fort Lauderdale to create a custom color using LusterStone, a decorative architectural trowel-on coating, which produces reflective stone patterns.
“When I first saw it, I thought this was going to be crazy,” Turk says. “Most people don’t go that vibrant, but this works with the furniture and the trim.”
Pauline Hartogh of Wetherlys Interiors in Palm Beach Gardens selected another bold wall color for a teenage girl’s room in Old Palm Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens. She tried a few wall samples of Sherwin-Williams paint and settled on Vibrant Yellow (SW6702), which looks more green than yellow. The room received a 2013 Design Excellence Award from the American Society of Interior Designers in the Contemporary Single Residential Space category.
“I love the colors of Mother Earth – forests and foliage, golf courses and palm trees,” she says. “Part yellow, part blue – it brings just the right warmth to a room. I can’t imagine life without the many exquisite green tones of nature.”
Just like on the fashion runways, she says gray is the new black in the new year.
“I will be using tone-on-tone grays, geometric fabrics and furniture pieces with good structure like a well-tailored suit,” Hartogh says. “Think of the refined colors of gray clouds, Earl Grey tea, titanium, gray heron and oyster white. There is an urbanity to gray, while in nature the grays of cavernous weathered rock suggest both refuge and comfort in their coolness.”
Gerald Pomeroy of Gerald Pomeroy Design Group in Boston selected Saxon Green from Farrow and Ball for a guest room with a waterfront view in One Thousand Ocean in Boca Raton. It is vibrant yet not overwhelming because color is used only on one wall as an accent.
“Because of the design of the room and the location – the windows wrap around three quarters of the room – it allowed me to ‘step on the gas’ with a strong hit of color. The ocean was the reference that had to be addressed and an integral part of the color scheme. My job was to enhance and draw from it. Bringing in the blue of the draperies was my way of connecting the dots.”
In the dining room, he featured a yellow glaze by a faux painter that used the color of the grass cloth in the adjacent foyer as a reference. The yellow was played against the peacock blue of the chairs and the glass bottom of the chandelier he custom designed.
“Color works when it is presented correctly as an accent and counterpoint to a neutral,” he says. “People tire of everything beige. Warm color has to feel light and reference the outside. When used sparingly, it can have a refreshing take.”
Color also returns to the kitchen, which for too long was all white. Some still stick to the neutral motif, but others are spicing up the kitchen with an accent of colorful cabinets or walls. A good example is the kitchen Rob Feinberg of Allied Kitchen & Bath in Fort Lauderdale designed for a Fort Lauderdale condo. Dry Creek Finishing of Naples created a faux finish in tones of gold and brown that matched the Sequoia granite.
Ann Morris, another Allied Kitchen & Bath designer, teaches classes in designing with color, belongs to the True Color Expert Group on Facebook and is a Benjamin Moore Color expert. She says we are in a gray movement in kitchens right now. It serves as the perfect backdrop for any color, an undertone for purple and green she dubs “ish” colors (as in greenish). Although gray was only seen in cabinets in 2010 and 2011, now it is showing up on walls.
Some of the more colorful cabinets are popular in South Beach high-rises with floor-to-ceiling windows, but she says she is now seeing gold in the form of soft, muted yellows. Some have a sandy undertone. While some people still select mostly white-gloss cabinets, she says they may take a chance with a yellow island.
“You can only live with a red kitchen so long,” Morris says. “You can’t change cabinets like you change a dress.”
You may not be able to afford to change cabinets frequently, but you can change the wall color. After all, it’s only paint.
FRESH COLORS FOR 2014
Soft pastel-like colors could become the new neutrals in the new year
Benjamin Moore’s 2014 Color of the Year is Breath of Fresh Air, a blue-green shade reminiscent of sea glass. Others in the 23-color collection include pastels such as Fruit Shake, Peach Parfait and Iced Mauve that work well with the new Black Satin, Caribbean Teal and Sparrow.
Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore’s color and design expert, says the company researched pop culture, home furnishings and fashion in Paris and Milan to designate Breath of Fresh Air the top color.
“All of these tints and colors say pastels,” she says. “They are not overly sweet. They are a lot more sophisticated, a lot more livable and useable. They lend themselves so well to everything else in the room and they are a break from the traditional neutral.”
She says gray, in particular, is an enabler color, allowing the designer or homeowner to bring in darker colors, mid tones and pastels that marry well together.
“Colors not considered neutrals can act as neutrals,” she says. “Don’t be boxed in by having to use beiges or just whites.”
South Floridians have more latitude in using color because of the sun and the amount of windows in our homes so Magno suggests taking a chance with something new and colorful.
“If you don’t like it, the color is easy to change,” she says. “Some people think it is a final decision. We want to help people express their creativity. If you don’t like it, change it. People are afraid of making mistakes. If this is your personality, don’t worry about making mistakes. Be brave with color.”