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Color Tips from Designer Lisa Sternfeld

New York-based designer Lisa Sternfeld shares her painterly approach to color

From Interior Designer Lisa Sternfeld
  • John Bessler

    Appropriately, Truth + Beauty is the name of a spa that New York-based Lisa Sternfeld designed, and those two words could also describe her signature look, which is based on honest craftsmanship, authentic materials, and a quiet loveliness influenced by Lisa’s global travels, aesthetic vision, and top-drawer training. A graduate of the hallowed Parsons School of Design—from which she recently won a Notable Parsons Alumni title—she has worked with industry greats Thomas O’Brien and Adam Tihany. Her work ranges from an Upper West Side penthouse to an elegant second home on Martha’s Vineyard to a Hamptons Showhouse.

    Lisa, who founded LSID (Lisa Sternfeld Interior Design & Architecture) in 2006, says, “Good design is everywhere, but the rare combination of beauty, integrity, and artistry is my highest goal.” Lisa’s approach to color is painterly; as a self-described “awkward kid,” she grew up haunting museums. “Interior design is like painting,” she says. “You build layers, and it grows over time.” 

    Visit Lisa's website.

  • John Bessler

    Try a White Canvas

    Painting walls a softer white tone keeps a room feeling modern and fresh, but not stark. It also keeps the focus on the objects in a space as the furniture and art become more of a graphic statement.

  • John Bessler

    Balancing Act

    A dark tone can be overpowering in one large expanse. Breaking up a large wall of rich, dark paneling with over scaled mirrors helps reflect light and color through an otherwise heavy space.

  • John Bessler

    Use Neutrals

    Neutral tones allow for easy and flexible accessorizing with color and pattern. A simple vase of red flowers and a grey and gold ikat-patterned ottoman add visual interest and a pop of color to a neutral palette.

    Snag some ideas from these living rooms dressed in stylish neutrals.

  • Accessorize Easily with Color

    Adding color to your room can be as easy as a stop to your local farmers market or grocer. A gorgeous bunch of rich red grapes paired with bright yellow roses adds color and sophistication to a dark dining table.

  • John Bessler

    Brown is not Boring

    There’s nothing flat or boring about this study’s brown palette. Mixing different shades and textures of brown keeps your eye visually engaged. There are no less than seven shades of brown in this room, from the sheer cocoa curtains and deep chocolate velvet lounge chair to the wall color and varying furniture stain colors.

  • John Bessler

    These are not your High School Blues and Golds

    One of my favorite color combinations is the mixture of softer blues and golds. A pale blue sofa is accented with a casual dark gold and white cowhide pillow while a painted formal bergère is covered in an unexpected blue and gold zebra print fabric.

    See more from this sophisticated home. 

  • Peter Margonelli

    Use Nature’s Palette

    Don’t underestimate the power of your natural surroundings as part of the design of your room. This large unobstructed picture window invites the outside in. The rich green of the trees is very much a part of the color palette of this room.

  • Use Your Favorite Color

    I’ve long had a love affair with the color blue. If I could be any color, I’d likely choose Farrow and Ball’s “Hague Blue.” It just might be my favorite color ever.

    See why blue is a go-to favorite on the color wheel.

  • John Bessler

    Dream in Blue

    This Caribbean blue toile headboard hints at faraway places and makes for a dreamy night’s sleep. To balance the varying tones of blue and white in the room, we used a deep saturated blue bedding set, which pulls out the darker tones in the headboard. It’s a nice balance between dark and light.

  • John Bessler

    Display Colorful Art

    The brilliant blue of this framed map instantly brightens up this small eat-in kitchen. It’s a great scale that perfectly frames the seating area and creates visual interest on an otherwise white wall.

  • John Bessler

    Choose Riveting Details:

    When using more subtle tones, it’s important to incorporate layers of texture and pattern to keep the eye engaged. Details like rivets on the wallcovering, striped and chevron patterned fabrics, and varying wood finish tones add new dimension to a neutral palette.

    Click here for Lisa Sternfeld's tips on decorating and design.