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Decorating: Favorite Fall Colors

Designers share the palettes they love to use in the autumn

Produced by Jenny Bradley
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  • Twenty-seven designers share with us some of their favorite fall colors, why they like them, and where they like to use them.

  • Matthew Patrick Smyth
    Matthew Patrick Smyth Interior Design
    New York City

    I'm in favor of autumnal schemes that cross over easily to all seasons. Burnt reds, various browns, and mossy greens balance out with off-whites, and creams can be reassuring and welcoming any time of the year.
  • Barbara Barry
    Los Angeles

  • Marshall Watson
    Marshall Watson Interiors
    New York City

  • Kristen Panitch
    Kristen Panitch Interiors
    Los Angeles

  • Bunny Williams
    New York City

  • Kim Alexandriuk
    Kim Alexandriuk Interior Design
    Los Angeles

  • Kevin Corn
    Kevin Corn Design
    Los Angeles

    Lately I have been using a lot of neutrals and warm tones for walls--in particular Hinson’s Whitewashed Fine Madagascar Cloth wall covering. When used with Farrow and Ball’s White Tie paint on trims and doors the effect is very soothing and calming. I’ve found that the combination really looks fantastic with vintage and modern furniture pieces, as well as strong color accessories.
     
    Photograph: David Marlow
  • Benjamin Bradley
    Bradley Thiergartner Interiors
    New York

    We love this Spice Palette -- with the primary color being Paprika. It seems just right for this time of year as it is inviting and energizing. It is traditional without being red. Contemporary without being orange. We like to use colors such as olive green (bay leaves), brown (cinnamon), and golden tones (curry) to support it.

    Photograph: Keith Scott Morton
  • Tom Stringer
    Tom Stringer Design Partners
    Chicago

    My favorite colors are warm natural tones -- bronze, copper, natural linen, leather, fire -- layered against cooler tones of soft white and silver leaf to add glamour. In the fall I accent the warmer tones in the tables I set, mostly copper and gold, and then as we move into the holidays I replace them with cooler tones of silver to celebrate winter.

    Photograph: Jamie Padgett
  • Robert Brown
    Robert Brown Interior Design
    Atlanta

    For fall I’m loving dark walls. I really love muddy, moody, dark warm gray. My favorites are Farrow and Ball Mouse’s Back No. 40, Sherwin Williams Manor House SW7505, and Benjamin Moore Fairview Taupe HC-85. These colors are great foils to light-colored upholstery. They also work really well with the “it” colors or the moment -- plum, raisin, and persimmon. I’d throw in a little blue, too, as a nice cool contrast.

    Photograph: Courtesy of Robert Brown Interior Design

  • Alex Papachristidis
    Alex Papachristidis Interiors
    New York

    Great colors for autumn are rust, tobacco, gold, and cream -- a warm, rich palette kept fresh by a cream backdrop. In this study/guest bedroom, solids are shown mixed with Fortuny prints and a geometric carpet.

    Photograph: Durston Saylor

  • Mark Williams
    Mark J. Williams Design
    Los Angeles

    Blood orange transforms any room for fall. I like to throw a hint of tomato into any room as well. Use it with powdery gray neutrals or with blue and white.

    Photograph: Peden + Munk Photography

  • Andrew Flesher
    Gunkelman Flesher
    Minneapolis/New York

    As the temperature drops and the leaves start to change color, the quality of light changes. I always love white, but in the fall it's nice to warm it up. American Clay makes a product that is literally made from clay. I used "Sugar Loaf White" in this bathroom for Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. The way the light catches the matte surface and absorbs it really makes the room glow. It creates the perfect backdrop to hunker down with a good book and a hot toddy.

    Photograph: Nick Johnson

  • Nina Petronzio
    Plush Home
    Los Angeles

    Plum, amethyst, and aubergine among other jewel tones have been really hot in the fashion scene for the past couple of seasons and seem to be transitioning into the furniture and design world as well. I love using these colors as a fresh and vibrant alternative to safer and more commonly used muted schemes. They are also a fun and surprising alternative to the more traditional feel of burgundy and deep reds for fall.

    Photograph: Nina Petronzio

  • Michael Cox and Mary Foley
    Foley & Cox
    New York

    We love the crisp, dry light of fall. We find it's the perfect backdrop for a palette of chestnut, chocolate, cream, and taupe -- set off with touches of burgundy and heathered shades of moss and lichen.

    Photograph: Foley & Cox

  • Alessandra Branca
    Branca Interiors
    Chicago

    The use of vermillion red, wheat yellow, and chocolate brown in a room provides an amazing explosion of sunshine and color, as well as a chic celebration of nature and fall at its best. Mix with the amazing antiques and contemporary art it makes for a warm and timeless space.

    All paints are from Fine Paints of Europe.

    Photograph: Thibault Jeansen for Alessandra's book, New Classic Interiors

  • Joe Nahem
    Fox-Nahem Design
    New York

    Though it's "fall," start with an interesting color under your foot and work your way "up."

    Photograph: Fox-Nahem Design

  • Elizabeth Knapp Bobo
    Knapp Interiors
    Los Angeles

    My favorite fall scheme right now is anything metallic mixed with earthy-jewel tones set on an ivory background. Actress Aya Sumika's living room is a perfect example of the combination that I feel evokes the richness of fall with undertones of glamour.

    Photograph: Knapp Interiors

  • Celerie Kemble
    Kemble Interiors
    New York

    For me, the feeling of fall can be captured in a cool snap of wind blowing through ruddy leaves. This room has a similar energy, juxtaposing a crisp blue with warm bronze, the ice of a crystal chandelier against painted wood floors.

    Photograph: Reprinted from the book To Your Taste by Celerie Kemble. Copyright © 2008 by Celerie Kemble. Photographs copyright © 2008 by Zach DeSart. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

  • Elizabeth Dinkel
    Elizabeth Dinkel Design Associates
    Los Angeles

    I like to use unexpected color combinations for a rich, inviting composition in fall schemes. In this image of a hallway, the soft blue (Benjamin Moore "Misty Gray"), provides a warm juxtaposition to more dramatic checkerboard floors. In the Living Room beyond, the combination of Benjamin Moore "Iced Cube Silver" on the paneled walls with the lilac of the window treatments makes for a subtle, yet effective contrast for these interiors.

    Photograph: Karyn Millet

  • Scott Laslie
    Scott Laslie & Associates
    Atlanta

    I like to use a foundation of black and neutrals. Black can ground a room while highlights of beige, chocolate brown, and rusty reds can warm it up. Natural wood pieces also add great color and texture -- bringing something more organic to the mix of glass, acrylic, and lacquer. I prefer keeping fabric colors more controlled and adding your pops with fabulous artwork.

    Photograph: Lauren Rubinstein

  • Darryl Carter
    Darryl Carter, Inc.
    Washington, D.C.

    In the kitchen of my country house, an antique work table with a honey-toned wood base and well-worn bluestone top are set against crisp white walls and warm white-painted barn wood floors that allow the early setting sun and light of the fire to permeate the room with a soft glow that always feels like fall to me.

    Photograph: Gordon Beall

  • Lonni Paul
    Lonni Paul
    Design Los Angeles


    Brown is a classic and always stylish. I love to use it as a neutral. Rich, dark and velvety like melted chocolate, the right brown anchors a room and gives it depth. It's masculine and elegant with cream, beige, and caramel but also works beautifully with a more feminine pallet. For the fall, I'd pair it with bold jewel tones like amethyst, deep turquoise or ruby red for an infusion of color that gives a luxurious and timely feeling.

    Photograph: Lonni Paul

  • Brad Ford
    Brad Ford I.D.
    New York

    Fall is one of my absolute favorite times of the year and one of the reasons I like it so much is because of the warm colors associated with the season. I'm still amazed at how the leaves change into such rich hues before falling. I normally like to work with a more neutral palette because I feel like I can manipulate it regardless of the season. So when autumn comes around I like to layer with pillows and throws that are representative of the changing leaves -- smoky mauves, burnt orange, or mossy greens. I also like to have fresh-cut flowers that are associated with the season not only to bring in some of these autumnal colors but also to bring a little bit of the outdoors in.

    Photograph: Brian Fender

  • Chris Barrett
    Chris Barrett Design
    Los Angeles

    Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the comfort of neutrals with pops of color, especially dark pink!

    Photograph: Chris Barrett Design

  • Bruce Fox
    Heather G. Wells, Ltd.
    Chicago/Boston

    I love using warm and cool tones together in a room. Here, golden oak paneling with smoke and pewter-toned fabrics sit on a latte-hued cashmere rug. Chocolate and Indigo blue accents bring it all together.

    Photograph: Heather G. Wells, Ltd.

  • Kate Singer
    Kate Singer Home
    Huntington, New York

    Deep chocolate brown walls combined with spring green, winter white, and a touch of orange suits the fall season in this cozy living room. To me, dark brown is the quintessential autumn color when the seasons turn.

    Photograph: Mark Samu, Samu Studios

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