Design with Color à la Lucy

Lucy Interior Design, Design with Color

I recently had the joy of speaking with home expert, author and columnist Marni Jameson about how I look at color. Marni is fun, full of great ideas, and an expert on turning hectic homes into heavenly havens—she’s written many books on the subject of downsizing. Marni’s also amazingly thought-provoking and invited me to examine how I do what I do.

As an emotional designer, (one who processes design through an emotional lens), I have always looked at design from the perspective that it’s experiential, looking at how people interact with space and color. And understanding this framework is important when designing spaces for our clients. There’s the emotional side of color, which is about feeling good and lifting spirits. We’re all about capturing the mood, the energy—whether it’s about creating a calm respite with a peaceful sense of color, a spa-like vibe; or it’s about creating energy, excitement to kick start the day. But both instill a feeling and evokes a mood. This truly resonates with me and our design team. We study the needs and wishes of our clients during design development which then informs the project, building the emotion and personification of space. It feels more like a feeling than an analytical approach.

At least that’s what I thought…

Chatting with Marni, I realized it’s a little more scientific and a tad more mathematical than I initially thought. I mean….math….really! Well, Marni’s expertise made me put on a more analytical hat. The longer we talked, the more I realized there was a magic formula after all. A mathematical formula that you can follow as a starting point to create that emotion. Designing with pizzazz + a little zing is the method to the magic to bring your space alive.

And what is that magic formula?

  • 60 % a base color (for example, a warm off-white or a soft tint of grey)
  • 30 % color cousins/friends (blue + green are always a great pair, or red + orange)
  • 10 % a wild card (citron or fuchsia or any color that makes you think “wow”)

The 10% zinger is the MAGIC! The pizzazz. Make people talk and invite conversation and curiosity about the space. Ask “why”? You want that feeling of it coming out of nowhere. That unexpected 10 % is the exclamation mark, the striking focal point, the zinger that adds a fresh breath of wow to a space.

We have a few tried and true ways to add that unexpected color to your space. Take a look at how we live in color and get inspired!

We wanted a little sass and spunk for this playfully pink-alicious Guest Bedroom. Not so serious + a bit vintage with the turned wood twin beds. Add Marimekko bedding to turn up the flair. Cheery cherry red winnowing baskets bring the zing to flamingo walls.

Lucy Interior Design, Design with Color

Designing an outdoor space, with earthy shades of green and aged teak furniture we believe you can’t go wrong with a little pink! Pink blossoms of course but for the zinger, we added a pick inflatable cooling station (the hit of the neighborhood). From bubblegum to coral to salmon to blush, any color pink adds a kick of charm and a touch of romance.

Lucy Interior Design, Design with Color

Pillows are the perfect way to add that fun and flash to any space, inside or out. A high punch + low risk, they jazz up a space with just a toss. Plus, you can breathe new life into a room in just minutes with pillows. We just love them! We love them so much we made our own—make sure to check them out!

Lucy Interior Design, Design with Color

Yes, we often add kicky accessories for that visual thunderbolt, but not always! Perking up a clients’ cabin getaway, we couldn’t resist this cheerful lemon SMEG beer fridge to add a little sunshine. A perfect example of that wildcard color to create surprise and conversation. I can promise you this fridge gets lots of attention as it says “ta-da.”

So, I invite you to have a little fun with color. Take a risk or two, you might be surprised at how much fun you can have with color. Where to start for inspiration? Look in your closet or a fashion magazine. Take a color cue from artor the cover of a book from your home library. Lately, I have been inspired by book covers which are eye-catching and full of color (they draw me in). Or perhaps, dig in your closet to find that sassy top or uncover a vintage piece of jewelry to inspire and unleash your creativity. Go for colors you love, not what’s trendy. Surround yourself with things you love, you deserve it.

Remember, if you don’t live with color, you miss out on all the fun! So when you are ready, give it a try, see what you think of our 60-30-10 color formula. If our magic formula works for you, go all out, and if it doesn’t, just stick with the spirit of it. Don’t be afraid to dip your fingers into the metaphorical—or actual—colored paint cans!

As I said to Marni, “BE BRAVE! Realize that rooms come alive when they have a color surprise.”


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