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Color Tips from Designer Kara Mann

Kara Mann's background in fashion, art, and design shows in her daring use of color

From Interior Designer Kara Mann
  • Based in NYC and Chicago, interior designer Kara Mann has a background in fashion, art, and design. It shows in her daring yet refined designs of a lipstick red dining room and a butler’s pantry shimmering in silver leaf.  Kara, who graduated from Tulane University and attended Harrington Institute of Design, is sought after on the showhouse circuit and has had her spaces featured in design books.

    A lover of fine fabrics, she has created a collection of leathers for Moore & Giles that pays homage to three of her favorite things: leather, fashion, and men. "I always want a design that respects classic architecture," explains Kara, "but that friction that exists between classic and modern is what drives me."

    Visit Kara's website.

  • Jewel Box Effect

    I believe in paying equal attention to the design in all spaces, no matter the size and function. We used silver leafing to create a jewel box effect in this butler’s pantry. The leafing also serves as a stunning backdrop for the owner’s Nymphenburg porcelain collection.

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  • Paint Chairs to Create Warmth

    To create warmth in a room, I often paint chair rails the same color as the walls, rather than leaving them white. Using this technique in this dining room also helped us create an uninterrupted background, keeping the focus on the stunning tryptich on the wall.

  • Natural Views

    The view from this home in Cabo is without compare. If you live in a home with a beautiful view, then play it up—and let nature be the star.  

    See a mountain home with great views.

  • Layer Neutrals for Serenity

    Layering neutral palettes in a space creates a feeling of warmth and serenity, as with this reading nook in a vacation home in Arizona.  

  • Use Bold Color

    When using color in your home, go bold! Adding crisp white accents ups the ‘wow’ factor.

    Behold, the power of red.

  • Bright Draperies Pop

    I love the way the dark grey tone of this sofa anchors the bright drapery panels in this room, allowing them to really pop in an otherwise neutral room. The art serves as a focal point and nicely pulls all design elements together.

  • Metallic Accents

    Metallic accents add a touch of glamour to any room. In this kitchen, we had little space with which to work, but our use of metallic tiles really helped elevate the design and make the space more special.

  • Art as Color

    Use artwork to bring bold color to an otherwise neutral room. This painting by Wolfgang Tillmans cannot be ignored. Plus, eye-catching art is always a great conversation starter.

    Try these ideas for arranging art to create a unique focal point in your home.

  • Accessorize!

    Accessories are a great way to add color to any room without committing to a bold palette.  Here we used globes, but accent pillows, coffee table books, blankets, and lampshades are all good examples of accessories that can easily (and affordably!) brighten up a space.

  • Wooden Contrast

    Many of the bathrooms I design use Carrera marble, which creates a crisp, clean feel.  But marble can also feel cold, so I like to add natural wood elements to create warmth and thoughtful contrast.

    Click here for decorating and design tips from Kara Mann.