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Decorating and Design Tips from Tobi Fairley
Tips to help you use color with confidence
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When we wrote a story about Little Rock designer Tobi Fairley’s own home, we predicted that one day “Tobi will be like Cher, or Oprah—one of those women for whom one name says it all.” She is a design dynamo who lights up rooms with playful palettes and who has designed a line of furniture for Hickory Chair.
Here, she shares 12 tips for using color in your home.
Determine the Mood for Your Decorating
How do you want to feel in the space—relaxed and reflective, or energized and encouraged? This will affect whether you choose warm or cool colors as a starting point. For high energy, red is the way to go. It’s the single color guaranteed to pump the most adrenaline. A red-orange is interesting with zebra stripes on the floor or as accent fabric on pillows or chairs.
Find Design Inspiration in Your Environment
There are no limits to what can inspire you—a napkin, nail polish, a man’s shirt, a landscape—the options are endless! A pretty aqua-turquoise pillow fabric can be the launching pad that points you to warmer corals and clean whites, or you might begin with a single piece of art.
Wrap Your Room in Neutrals
Use neutrals as a base and then strategically bring in color with pillows, lamps, and other accessories. Grayed-down blues on the drapery fabric appear so soothing as to look nearly neutral.
Start Your Palette with One Piece
Once you determine your colors, choose one piece and build the rest of the room’s palette around it. Maybe it’s an I-can’t-live-without-it lamp in a beautiful blue. Or maybe it’s a rug or fabric that combines a number of colors—then the lamp follows.
Go Bold with Color in One Big Area
If you go bold with a wall color, such as these strong ceiling stripes and warm pumpkin walls, tone down the accessories in the room to create a nice complement. Notice that the art arranged above the bed is sculptural shapes in pure white.
Try an Unmatched Look on Furniture
Intentionally not color-matching your furnishings can create a super-chic look. Mix different shapes, sizes, styles, fabrics, and finishes. The sofa, wing chair, and ottoman seating at the table are all different colors, but fall within the same blue-and-white palette.
Let Color Act as a Neutral
Using color that is devoid of contrast allows it to act as a neutral. This rainy-day blue at the walls, windows, floor, and sofa reads as a neutral.
Consider Color as a Pattern
Painting stripes or another simplistic pattern can create a big “wow” factor. And think beyond the walls. Try taking colorful stripes straight to the floor for an even fresher look.
Create a Cohesive Flow
Carry at least one color from each room to the next to create a seamless look. Window treatments are a good connection. Even when the windows are mismatched, a similar treatment can transport color from one of these focal points to the other.
Blend Color with Texture
Give your rooms depth and interest by pairing color with texture. Tufting your walls will increase the softness with the bonus of dimension.
See Colors in the Light
Study your paint colors in the room where you plan to use them, and see how they look at varying times of the day.
Don’t Overdo It!
Remember too much of anything is bad for everything! If you are afraid a color might be too bold, opt to use it as an accent. Bright colors on pillows and end tables make brilliant bookmarks for a white sofa.