Bold interior paint colors are back, offering vibrancy to indoor life that neutrals can’t provide | Home/Garden


When Christine and Robert Casanova moved into a century-old Victorian side hall in New Orleans in 2017, the home’s central, windowless room was a blank slate, a design challenge and a point of contention.

Robert wanted a “warm, dark, cocoon-y” library with heavily saturated blue walls. Christine believed the hue would be intense and claustrophobic.

“I thought it would be too much of a contrast, like it didn’t belong in the house,” Christine Casanova said.

The couple hired interior designers Penny Francis and Casi St. Julian, of Eclectic Home, to build out the space with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, a rope-wrapped chandelier and a grass cloth wallpaper accent wall. The result is a snug, intimate room where guests inevitably congregate during parties.

“I had trepidation about the bright, clean, crisp house and the dark, intense room,” Christine Casanova said. “But the dark, intense room is the place everyone wants to be because it feels cozy and safe.”

Francis says the Casanovas are among many clients who are making bolder decisions when it comes to color. “People have finally opened up to the richness of color and are not as afraid,” she said.

Bold colors are trending

Sherwin-Williams’ 2021 paint trend predictions include intense blues, muted greens and reds, vibrant pinks and warm whites. Jewel tones like emerald greens and cobalts continue to be a mainstay.

“Emerald green was Pantone’s color of the year in 2013,” said interior designer Maureen Stevens. “Ever since, it has that longevity. People are saying it’s a classic now. It’s considered neutral to do a blue wall — I think emerald is as well.”

Jaipur Pink makes a bold debut at Sherwin-Williams.

While blush or “millennial pink” was ubiquitous in recent years, designers say this trend has given way to more saturated versions of the color.

“Sherwin-Williams came out with Jaipur Pink, which … is very reminiscent of Old World architecture. It’s definitely deeper than a blush,” Stevens said. “Millennial pink is out because it is a more muted pink. Now people are like, ‘Let’s embrace pink for its entirety.’”

Beige and gray are out

According to interior designer Nomita Joshi-Gupta, the more time people spend quarantined in their homes, the more they long for color. Although white walls remain soothing to the eye, there’s a movement away from neutral palettes of beige, white and gray.

“Your eye needs stimulation,” Joshi-Gupta said. “Just like one needs different tastes in food, your eye also needs visual cues and excitement.”

Alexandrite is an updated take on the classic emerald green.

“Gray was a mainstay for a long time, but now grays and gray taupes are on the way out,” Stevens said. “People are opting for a clean slate of white or something more bold as far as more jewel tones and going crazier.”

Back to black

Once considered the ultimate signifier of teenage rebellion, black walls are a valid design choice — and one that’s trending. Black can make a room feel intimate and expansive because it visually recedes walls. It’s ideal for intimate spaces like bathrooms, studies and bedrooms.

“There’s been the conception that if I go dark, the room seems smaller, but it’s actually the opposite,” Francis said. “When you go darker with the color, corners disappear. Black is a hard sell, but when (clients) do it, they realize it’s an amazing look.”

If black walls sound like too much, consider balancing black with white (black and white is a trending color combo) or confining it to a powder room or kitchen cabinets.

Monochromatic palettes

Do you love purple? Why not choose it for your sofa, wall, drapes and ceilings? The monochromatic look is both cozy and trending, designers say. “If you paint the ceiling, trim, walls, everything the same color, it will make all your fixtures come to life,” Francis said.

When doing a monochromatic look, interior designer Whitney J. Jones, of Whitney J. Decor, likes to vary the colors.

Whitney Jones, of Whitney J Decor in New Orleans, uses a deeply hued ceiling in one of her designs.

“It’s important not to try and match shades exactly,” Jones said. “If you do a purple wall and want to bring in other purple accents, use shades of purple that are slightly lighter or darker.”

Francis suggests incorporating contrast via a rug or painted ceiling. In the Casanova’s library, she kept the ceiling and trim white to visually connect the room to the rest of the all-white house.

“The ceiling is the fifth wall,” Francis said. “Popping color into the ceiling gives it a whole other vibe and highlights the lighting, drawing your eye up. If you do the ceiling in a high gloss or even a lacquer, the light reflection adds more drama.”

By the same token, metallic highlights in furnishings and fixtures enliven a monochromatic or boldly hued space.

“If there’s no relief from the intensity and darkness of color in fixtures or lamp or finishes or trims, it won’t work,” Christine Casanova said. “Stuff that reflects light brings levity and lightness.”

The Casanovas furnished their library with brassed-legged leather chairs, a marble table with brass inserts, metallic-threaded wallpaper, sconces and a brass bar cart.

“(Three years after painting it), we’re still excited and love that room,” Christine Casanova said. “We aren’t tired of the color. That room is the only place in the house that has the intensity of that color. Especially during (the COVID-19 pandemic), when people are home all the time, it’s nice to have the diversity. The mood of the room is changed by the color — a comforting, warm blue. It’s nice to have that different space where I feel like I’ve departed but am still home.”

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