Homeowners spice up neutral palates with bold colors

by Judy Stringer

The color gray has established a firm toehold in the interior design world, and with good reason. It comes in a broad range of beautiful shades and creates a neutral backdrop for decorating, according to Hudson designer Lindsey Putzier.

The problem is some of us have taken the gray look too far.

“The trend to make everything from floor to ceiling gray is not necessarily what modern farmhouse look was meant to be,” she explained.

This movement is particularly misguided in Northeast Ohio, Putzier added, where long, bleak winters – and the very real prospect of seasonal affective disorder – necessitate lively interior environments. Psychologically speaking, the presence of warm, bright colors can improve our mood and energize us.

“It can be that little bit of warmth and sunshine inside when things are gloomy outside,” Putzier said.

How and how much color, however, depends largely on each individual client’s tolerance level. For more cautious homeowners, Putzier sticks with neutrals on the walls and larger items like sofas, and injects color into accents such as rugs, throw pillows and window treatments.

You can choose as many accent colors as you like, she said, just make sure each color appears in the room three times or you risk it looking out of place.

Putzier suggests a colorful side chair and/or wallpaper for clients who are bit more daring. And those who are comfortable with color will “go all out,” she said, with lively hued sofas and walls.

 “The trick is to pick either pure colors – which are brighter – or muted colors – which have more brown or black added to them and are not as bright – and stick with one or the other,” she said. “Unless you’re a professional, it’s very difficult to mix those properly.”

Kris Toth, owner of Toth Painting Solutions in Seven Hills, estimates that about half of his current clients want some degree of color on their walls, a spike from past years. Most of them opt for a colorful accent wall surrounded by more neutral tones, however, rather than all-over color. 

“We are hearing that they are a little tired with the one-color paint job or just want to bring some more energy into their rooms,” he said.

Jewel tones – like emerald green, sapphire blue, ruby red and amethyst purple – are popular accent wall colors, according to Toth.

“Then [the homeowner] will pick up some of those same hues in their furnishing and accessories,” he said. 

Toth noted that all-over color tends to be reserved for smaller rooms, like a powder room or a dining room. Homeowners, he explained, take more risks in smaller rooms that they use left often.    

“We have a color expert who will go out to people’s homes for a consultation,” Toth said. “It’s a good service to offer because many homeowners, I think, are getting tired of the same tones and are ready to try something different.” ∞