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Color Tips from Designer Julie Goldman
The L.A.-based designer offers her tips for creating interiors with great color
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Julie Goldman is a born collaborator, whether she’s fishing with her father in the marshlands of Louisiana, browsing Christie’s catalogs with a fellow art collector, or teaming up with artisans on designs and products for J. Latter Design, the L.A. firm she founded in 2000. After graduating with a degree in art history from Tufts, the flea market aficionado returned to New Orleans to work for the hallowed firm of Holden & Dupuy. Her tutelage in antiques there is reflected in the way she reimagines pieces to add distinction and function to modern settings. Her one-of-a-kind interiors always look artisanal and touched by hand.
Consider your location when selecting your palette for a space. Exactly the same color looks very different in Los Angeles than in Chicago, so adjust hues accordingly. You also need to take the architecture into consideration. For this project in New Orleans, the palette was inspired by architectural details and the mature trees beyond the large bay windows. See an adjacent room on the next image.
A (Little Bit) Bold
A commitment to a bold color doesn’t need to be huge. Consider repeating small accents of a similar color—a lampshade, a throw, a collection of books all in the same hue. Also, take a look at what I call ‘non-colors’ and the impact they can have, such as this large glass jar. Notice how it refers to the blues from the adjacent room in the previous image.
Keep it Fresh
Flowers are an easy way to add color and invigorate a space. But when your favorites aren’t available (or your partner is allergic, like mine is), add some color with a simple bowl of an unusual fruit or a vessel of fresh leaves.
When decorating bedrooms, I tend to keep the palette soothing—I prefer cool blues and dusty colors. With palettes such as these, a little bit of a contrast goes a long way. The injection of orange is an unexpected addition to the soothing lavender, making the space younger and more vivacious.
Art as Color Inspiration
Artwork is a great source of color in a space—and a frequent jumping off point. In this project, you can see how the artwork (from the homeowners’ collection) provides a restful break from the riot of pattern in the wallpaper. The accessories echo the green in the paper and tie in the blue in the background of the painting.
Consider layering multiple of shades of the same color. For instance, this bedroom vignette is successful because of the variety of blues—the light walls and the dark blue of the quilt and painting. The creams and off-whites ground the blue while the reds and yellows punch it up.
Always buy quality paint, particularly when using a strong or unusual paint color. In this dining room, I used Farrow and Ball “Babouche,” an intense yolky yellow. When the light bounces around this room, you can sense the strength and depth in the pigment making the space feel luxurious and warm.
Travel to exotic places like Morocco can entirely change your perspective on color—and especially color combinations. On a recent trip to Marrakech, I was struck not only by the saturation of the hues at Les Jardins Majorelles, but by the combinations of color.
Mother (Nature) Knows Best
There are classic combinations—black and white, red and blue, pink and green. But as times change, simply adjusting the intensity of one of the hues can make a palette feel fresh and modern. Take a look at Mother Nature. Who (besides her) would have thought to pair this juicy magenta with such dusty green?
Pretty Painted Finishes
Don’t limit your use of color to the walls and textiles. Nothing makes me happier than a painted finish, particularly an old one. See how the color of the chair frame works with the shades. If you are having a vintage piece painted (or DIY-ing it), choose a piece with a great overall silhouette and make sure the surfaces are smooth before painting.