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Color Tips from Designer Taylor Borsari

Interior designer Taylor Borsari shares her color tricks of the design trade

From Interior Designer Taylor Borsari
  • Taylor Borsari’s fine art background—she majored in studio arts at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut—contributes to her intuitive approach to design, one in which she lets a palette evolve rather than overplanning it. Nonetheless, she’s developed some color tricks of the design trade that she shares with us here. Taylor began her career in Los Angeles with Michael S. Smith, dean of updated traditional. There, she managed residential projects in Beverly Hills and Malibu. Since founding her own boutique design studio in 2005 in Las Vegas, she has deployed her new-wave chic look from Laguna Beach to Maine.

    Her twists on traditional include using horizontal planks for walnut cabinets in a kitchen redo and trading tired nautical motifs for organic textures and patterns in beachfront homes. The epitome of her approach is the elegant and indestructible Eames fiberglass chairs that the mother of two uses at the dining table in her Newport Beach home.

    Visit Taylor's website. 

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  • Bold Curtain

    A bold and unexpected way to enliven a space is to introduce a colorful curtain. While it can be a large statement, it’s also relatively easy to change should you tire of your choice. In this beach house, the bright pink and burgundy curtains add an eccentric dose of energy to an otherwise neutral space and help communicate that this is a fun, cheerful space—one not to be taken too seriously. 

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  • Bold Range

    Embrace your range! There are so many great, colorful options for ranges that can really take your kitchen from ordinary to unique with a single appliance selection. If you opt for a range as bold as the one pictured, I suggest balancing it with other elements so that it feels part of the whole production rather than taking center stage. The tile and island colors here help strike a nice balance with the intense blue range and hood. 

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  • Bold Vanity Color

    Sometimes an unexpected vanity color can strike the right balance to energize a room. This bathroom feels more cheerful and interesting thanks to the soft, green vanity. While ivory would have been pretty and safe, this color adds a playful note and makes the space unique. The key here is to use colors that make a compatible mix. 

    See more from this colorful home.

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  • Cheerful Curtain

    In this lively beach house, the clients wanted lots of color, so we opted for more cheerful curtain choices than I would typically gravitate toward. The end result was a good lesson for all of us….it’s not as scary as it might seem! When used in the right doses, bold color can enliven a space rather than overpower it—and give the room a defining element that brings everything together. While the curtains are bright, pillows on the sofa (and the sofa itself) connect back to them to help balance the colors while the rest of the room is relatively neutral. There is a harmony here that keeps all the hues in check. 

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  • Color Overload

    If you love color and pattern, it's sometimes best to jump in full-force. This approach isn't right for every room or person, but in this upstairs attic bedroom in an historic house, it was the perfect approach for giving a little girl's bedroom a funky, retro-granny vibe. The all-over floral wallpaper—balanced by the many patterns and the addition of hot pink (for a little interest)—feels fresh and funky rather than dated and frumpy. The pink was needed to offset the strong yellow and blue-green in the wallpaper. When searching for the perfect complementary color outside an expected color scheme, look at the colors opposite the main colors you are working with on a color wheel for some ideas.

    Take a look at this eccentric island home!

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  • Neutral with Colorful Accents 

    White rooms can be refreshing and inviting, but if all white, they can hinge on boring. If embracing color seems intimidating, this isolated color approach might be a good fit. Start with a fabric you love—either in color or pattern—and build from there. Keep the foundation elements neutral and simple, and bring in color and pattern on the pillows and curtains. These elements are easily changed without major work and can give you a new look with a roundup of new pillows.

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  • Neutral with Focal Color

    There is something soothing about rooms that have a neutral palette, but if every element is decidedly neutral, the sum of the parts can feel lackluster. Even when reaching for a neutral end result, I try to pull a couple of elements into the mix that settle into the neutral scheme, but add some tension and interest. The silver-sage sofa here is a perfect example of creating that tension without overpowering the neutral grounding forces of the room. The pillows on the sofa reinforce the connection to the textiles on the bed and the side chair, further bringing the scheme together. 

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  • Neutral with Colorful Accents

    In this playroom, a very neutral palette left the space craving color in isolated doses. It felt right in this instance to incorporate the boldest color in the art on the walls and tie it into the overall scheme with the pillows on the sofa. This is an easy approach for those that fear color commitment (or want to try living with color before making a major commitment).

    Update rooms with easy color accents.

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  • Painted Door

    One of my favorite ways to incorporate color into the common areas of a house is to paint the doors a color. I often opt for a soft, blue/gray/green that gives a nice connection to the outdoors and adds freshness to the interiors. While not a typical neutral, I often use these blues and greens as a neutral in other areas of my work, as they function well in almost any color scheme. 

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  • Red Ceiling

    We have all walked into completely red rooms and have had our own reactions to those spaces. While red walls aren't for me because I find them too overpowering and unsettling, I had a long-time client repeatedly ask for a red room. In our third project together, I finally agreed to give her that room, but with an execution I could accept while still meeting her needs. We isolated the boldest use of red on the ceiling and tied it together with accent pieces in the room. The room still feels red without swallowing you completely. 

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  • Subtle Neutral

    There is clearly something timeless and appealing about a nice, light, neutral, kitchen. When you think you want a white kitchen, consider colors other than true white to achieve your look. This kitchen is actually a soft, chalky, putty color, but comes off white with the soapstone counters and silver-leafed tile backsplash. The key to making this kitchen interesting despite the lack of color is its abundant use of texture. The floors, backsplash, counters and roman shade all help strike the perfect chord that makes this space sing.  

    Color ideas live here.

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  • Tonal Color with Pattern

    This bathroom utilizes a very simple, restrained palette, but brings in a tonal pattern-play that helps elevate the space. The cararra marble counter blends tonally with the celadon tile and simultaneously helps set it off. The custom painted mirrors (in a darker celadon color) add punctuation on the wall, but still connect to the overall scheme.  The mix of tile patterns brings interest to the wall without adding yet another color. This use of texture and pattern for interest, rather than color, gives a soothing and calming effect to the space. 

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