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Color Tips from Designer Summer Thornton
Chicago-based designer Summer Thornton's use of unexpected color ensures that no two projects are alike
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“Do at least one thing your mother wouldn’t,” Chicago-based interior designer Summer Thornton advises. Her signature look is “cultured irreverence,” and she designs homes & boutiques throughout the U.S. with projects in Chicago, Atlanta, Naples, and more. Summer’s experience includes working in a high-end European textiles company, which helped her develop a sure hand in working with fabric, color, and pattern. No two of her projects look alike—but she always uses classic forms and unexpected colors and materials to evoke the mood that each space calls for. A world traveler who collects painted portraits, she never met a flea market she didn’t love, be it in Moscow or Buenos Aires.
Mix Varying Hues and Shades of the Same Color
I rarely pick up an exact color match between different fabrics, nor do I match the walls to an accent color in a fabric in the space. There's so much depth of hue in nature that there's no reason to feel tied down to a perfectly matched color. By including some variation your room will feel more natural and curated.
Never Underestimate the POC - Pop Of Color
Just as when you make a bold shoe choice in your wardrobe, a pop of color in your room can take it from drab to fab.
Metallic is the New “Color”
I'm finding that gold, brass, and silver are some of my favorite colors to use due to their sheen. That little glisten in your wallpaper or piece of furniture adds depth and interest you can't get from your usual color selections.
Hypersaturation is a Showstopper
Done right, it exudes energy. Done wrong, it can be garish, but with the right balance of antiques and natural tones—particularly when used in a sophisticated pattern—it can feel wild, chic, and sophisticated all at the same time. Personally, I love hypersaturated florals because they feel romantic and old fashioned, but with a modern and youthful twist.
Green is God's Neutral
I can put green in almost any room, and it feels natural there. And that's because we see so much of it in nature, in varying shades, textures, patterns, and depths. Don't be afraid to introduce a little green - at least in a few plants!
Create Drama with Jewel Tones
Deep jewel tones like emerald, sapphire, and ruby are perfect for creating drama and moodiness in a room.
Be Bold with Color
Don't hesitate to use color on your furniture - the sofa, the chairs, the rug. If all of your friends have beige couches, stand out from the crowd and give your guests a conversation starter! I've never heard someone say “I'm totally obsessed with this beige sofa.” When my clients have taken the leap for a bold sofa, they've always said they were thrilled with it once it arrived.
Layer Your Neutrals
When you are sticking to a neutral and natural palette, be sure to use varying shades of whites, creams, taupes, and browns. Without variation, rooms can feel sterile & flat.
Look for Fresh Combinations
If you've seen or heard of a color combination before, steer clear. Color pairings are fads, and if you jump on the bandwagon, your home will look dated as soon as the next color trend comes out.
Finish With a Flourish
Don't forget to consider your finish. Cobalt blue in a matte finish looks dramatically different than it does in high-gloss or in crushed velvet fabric.