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Decorating: Favorite Fall Colors
Designers share the palettes they love to use in the autumn
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Twenty-seven designers share with us some of their favorite fall colors, why they like them, and where they like to use them.
Matthew Patrick SmythI'm in favor of autumnal schemes that cross over easily to all seasons. Burnt reds, various browns, and mossy greens balance out with off-whites, and creams can be reassuring and welcoming any time of the year.
Matthew Patrick Smyth Interior Design
New York City
I love colors that are indescribable like faded gemstones. Amethyst and pearl bring in subtle hints of fall but remain elegant throughout the year.
New Barbara Barry Collection for Baker, featuring Colin Cab Chairs and Oberon Cocktail Table.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Baker Furniture
Marshall Watson Interiors
New York City
I relish the complexity of the autumnal palette and the layering it allows. Here on Long Island, the flora is complex-with many species of trees dropping their leaves in a kaleidoscopic wonder. Caramel, cinnabar, chartreuse, lime, apricot, honey, and teal-hues with an undertone of warmth that mysteriously harmonize. These autumn shades comfort the soul as the weather turns bitter cold.
Kristen Panitch Interiors
An unexpected color palette for outside gives a warmth and richness to an outdoor space. For those of us that live in warmer climates, the bright-colored accents like pillows and cushions that work for summer can be changed out to the golds, oranges, and reds more suitable for fall.
New York City
Fall days are crisp and clear. Nights are chilly. There is nothing more inviting than a bedroom that is cozy and romantic. I love a palette of reds and creams mixed with a dash of black and gold. For this bedroom the walls and curtains are in the same red and white toile. The four-poster bed, bookcase, and valance are painted black with gilded details. The faded patchwork quilt looks sensational with the fresh red and white embroidered bed linens.
Kim Alexandriuk Interior Design
It's wonderful to be outside in the autumn light. This room, with its indoor/outdoor feel and its coloration, brings the autumn light within. It's very serene and inviting because of the warm tones of gold, browns, and cinnabar.
Kevin CornLately I have been using a lot of neutrals and warm tones for walls--in particular Hinson’s Whitewashed Fine Madagascar Cloth wall covering. When used with Farrow and Ball’s White Tie paint on trims and doors the effect is very soothing and calming. I’ve found that the combination really looks fantastic with vintage and modern furniture pieces, as well as strong color accessories.
Kevin Corn Design
Photograph: David Marlow
Benjamin BradleyWe love this Spice Palette -- with the primary color being Paprika. It seems just right for this time of year as it is inviting and energizing. It is traditional without being red. Contemporary without being orange. We like to use colors such as olive green (bay leaves), brown (cinnamon), and golden tones (curry) to support it.
Bradley Thiergartner Interiors
Photograph: Keith Scott Morton
Tom StringerPhotograph: Jamie Padgett
Tom Stringer Design Partners
My favorite colors are warm natural tones -- bronze, copper, natural linen, leather, fire -- layered against cooler tones of soft white and silver leaf to add glamour. In the fall I accent the warmer tones in the tables I set, mostly copper and gold, and then as we move into the holidays I replace them with cooler tones of silver to celebrate winter.
Robert Brown Interior Design
For fall I’m loving dark walls. I really love muddy, moody, dark warm gray. My favorites are Farrow and Ball Mouse’s Back No. 40, Sherwin Williams Manor House SW7505, and Benjamin Moore Fairview Taupe HC-85. These colors are great foils to light-colored upholstery. They also work really well with the “it” colors or the moment -- plum, raisin, and persimmon. I’d throw in a little blue, too, as a nice cool contrast.
Photograph: Courtesy of Robert Brown Interior Design
Alex Papachristidis Interiors
Great colors for autumn are rust, tobacco, gold, and cream -- a warm, rich palette kept fresh by a cream backdrop. In this study/guest bedroom, solids are shown mixed with Fortuny prints and a geometric carpet.
Photograph: Durston Saylor
Mark J. Williams Design
Blood orange transforms any room for fall. I like to throw a hint of tomato into any room as well. Use it with powdery gray neutrals or with blue and white.
Photograph: Peden + Munk Photography
As the temperature drops and the leaves start to change color, the quality of light changes. I always love white, but in the fall it's nice to warm it up. American Clay makes a product that is literally made from clay. I used "Sugar Loaf White" in this bathroom for Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. The way the light catches the matte surface and absorbs it really makes the room glow. It creates the perfect backdrop to hunker down with a good book and a hot toddy.
Photograph: Nick Johnson
Plum, amethyst, and aubergine among other jewel tones have been really hot in the fashion scene for the past couple of seasons and seem to be transitioning into the furniture and design world as well. I love using these colors as a fresh and vibrant alternative to safer and more commonly used muted schemes. They are also a fun and surprising alternative to the more traditional feel of burgundy and deep reds for fall.
Photograph: Nina Petronzio
Michael Cox and Mary Foley
Foley & Cox
We love the crisp, dry light of fall. We find it's the perfect backdrop for a palette of chestnut, chocolate, cream, and taupe -- set off with touches of burgundy and heathered shades of moss and lichen.
Photograph: Foley & Cox
The use of vermillion red, wheat yellow, and chocolate brown in a room provides an amazing explosion of sunshine and color, as well as a chic celebration of nature and fall at its best. Mix with the amazing antiques and contemporary art it makes for a warm and timeless space.
All paints are from Fine Paints of Europe.
Photograph: Thibault Jeansen for Alessandra's book, New Classic Interiors
Though it's "fall," start with an interesting color under your foot and work your way "up."
Photograph: Fox-Nahem Design
Elizabeth Knapp Bobo
My favorite fall scheme right now is anything metallic mixed with earthy-jewel tones set on an ivory background. Actress Aya Sumika's living room is a perfect example of the combination that I feel evokes the richness of fall with undertones of glamour.
Photograph: Knapp Interiors
For me, the feeling of fall can be captured in a cool snap of wind blowing through ruddy leaves. This room has a similar energy, juxtaposing a crisp blue with warm bronze, the ice of a crystal chandelier against painted wood floors.
Photograph: Reprinted from the book To Your Taste by Celerie Kemble. Copyright © 2008 by Celerie Kemble. Photographs copyright © 2008 by Zach DeSart. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.
Elizabeth Dinkel Design Associates
I like to use unexpected color combinations for a rich, inviting composition in fall schemes. In this image of a hallway, the soft blue (Benjamin Moore "Misty Gray"), provides a warm juxtaposition to more dramatic checkerboard floors. In the Living Room beyond, the combination of Benjamin Moore "Iced Cube Silver" on the paneled walls with the lilac of the window treatments makes for a subtle, yet effective contrast for these interiors.
Photograph: Karyn Millet
Scott Laslie & Associates
I like to use a foundation of black and neutrals. Black can ground a room while highlights of beige, chocolate brown, and rusty reds can warm it up. Natural wood pieces also add great color and texture -- bringing something more organic to the mix of glass, acrylic, and lacquer. I prefer keeping fabric colors more controlled and adding your pops with fabulous artwork.
Photograph: Lauren Rubinstein
Darryl Carter, Inc.
In the kitchen of my country house, an antique work table with a honey-toned wood base and well-worn bluestone top are set against crisp white walls and warm white-painted barn wood floors that allow the early setting sun and light of the fire to permeate the room with a soft glow that always feels like fall to me.
Photograph: Gordon Beall
Design Los Angeles
Brown is a classic and always stylish. I love to use it as a neutral. Rich, dark and velvety like melted chocolate, the right brown anchors a room and gives it depth. It's masculine and elegant with cream, beige, and caramel but also works beautifully with a more feminine pallet. For the fall, I'd pair it with bold jewel tones like amethyst, deep turquoise or ruby red for an infusion of color that gives a luxurious and timely feeling.
Photograph: Lonni Paul
Brad Ford I.D.
Fall is one of my absolute favorite times of the year and one of the reasons I like it so much is because of the warm colors associated with the season. I'm still amazed at how the leaves change into such rich hues before falling. I normally like to work with a more neutral palette because I feel like I can manipulate it regardless of the season. So when autumn comes around I like to layer with pillows and throws that are representative of the changing leaves -- smoky mauves, burnt orange, or mossy greens. I also like to have fresh-cut flowers that are associated with the season not only to bring in some of these autumnal colors but also to bring a little bit of the outdoors in.
Photograph: Brian Fender
Chris Barrett Design
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the comfort of neutrals with pops of color, especially dark pink!
Photograph: Chris Barrett Design
Heather G. Wells, Ltd.
I love using warm and cool tones together in a room. Here, golden oak paneling with smoke and pewter-toned fabrics sit on a latte-hued cashmere rug. Chocolate and Indigo blue accents bring it all together.
Photograph: Heather G. Wells, Ltd.
Kate Singer Home
Huntington, New York
Deep chocolate brown walls combined with spring green, winter white, and a touch of orange suits the fall season in this cozy living room. To me, dark brown is the quintessential autumn color when the seasons turn.
Photograph: Mark Samu, Samu Studios
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This beautifully crafted bar cart, The Sidecar by Moore and Giles, is a great way to store liquor, glassware, bar tools, and anything else needed to complete your own miniature bar. The cart, made of Virginia black walnut, birch, leather, aluminum, and brass, is wheeled to make sure the party can travel with you. Perfect for drink-lovers without the space for a full bar.