Plenty of people prefer the ease and brightness of a crisp white room, and for good reason. It’s an easy pick-me-up for a dated, run-down vibe, the perfect backdrop for showcasing an art collection and easy on the eyes. On the other hand, a bold pop of color on the walls immediately turns a simple room into a statement. Plus it’s the quickest (and most affordable!) way to change the entire mood of a space. So why choose one over the other?
This cozy living room and dining room duo by interior designer and Clare Collective ambassador Hema Persad makes the case for both a bright, peppy white like Fresh Kicks and a statement-making hue like Views. Each space is equally warm and inviting, and the juxtaposition of colors makes them stand out in their own right. Read on for what makes them both work so well.
Warming Up White
One thing we know for sure: There is a ton of variability when it comes to white paint. Some whites are perfectly neutral and bring life to dingy doors, trim, and ceilings; some whites are decidedly cool-toned and pair well with moody blues and greens; some whites are pleasantly warm and beigey, adding character to a room.
Hema chose Fresh Kicks for this cozy living room project, thanks to its lack of undertones and a bright whiteness that ties in with the warmth of the accents while playing nicely with the coolness of the adjacent dining room.
“The ceiling used to be a dark brown wood,” Hema points out. “And everything in the room, including the 80s red brick fireplace, was dark.” The room was lucky enough to get a ton of natural light, so “the white paint made everything feel new and fresh while also highlighting the ceiling beams.”
To enliven white walls in all of her projects, especially this cozy living room, Hema has a special secret weapon. “It comes down to texture,” she says. The living room is layered with tons of textural elements through wood beams, soft leather and a shaggy rug, and though the room is relatively neutral (aside from a deep green sofa), it still reads quite warm. “Even if you keep everything neutral, the textures and soft goods will bring a warm feeling in, in addition to lots of lamps as opposed to solely overhead lighting,” she says.
Keeping Wood Tones Consistent
If you’re having trouble mixing and matching different pieces of furniture in your space, there’s a chance you need to refine the range of wood tones. “I like to stay away from too many tones of wood,” Hema says, because too many different types can read as cluttered and overstimulating to the eye. “Stick with two to three wood tones at max, and when adding other pieces in, opt for glass, marble, or rattan to mix things up.”
Both the living and dining rooms have the same throughline when it comes to wood tones, which helps coordinate them despite the different colors on the walls. In the living room, the ceiling beams, shelves, art and media unit all pull from the same family of warm, reddish wood finishes, so little pops of pink, green and blue through textiles and decor can have their moment to shine. Likewise, in the dining room, the walls, chair upholstery and light fixture are the main attractions thanks to that same reddish wood on the table, mirror and buffet.
Making the Dining Room a Moment
In the age of casual dining and open floor plans, the romance of a dining room can often be overlooked. But luckily, dining rooms are often enclosed enough to take a design departure from the rest of the home, offering a fun opportunity to take risks with color and style. “I like dining rooms to feel special,” Hema says. “I felt like there was so much white in this home already. It was nice to give the dining room its own identity.”
While the cozy living room is all earth tones and restrained neutrals, the dining room is more playful with color, starting with the walls. Hema swathed the walls in the color Views, a tranquil blue with a touch of green, and further injected color through cerulean blue seats on the dining chairs, bright green palm fronds and a predominantly red rug. The final result is a space that feels like a considered jewel box of a room that sets the stage for lively dinner parties.
Playing Up Personal Style
No space is complete without personal effects, and they’re even more fun to style when they’re vintage. In some cases, a treasured vintage item can even be the jumping-off point for the entire room design, which is true of this dining room.
“The owners have all these cool vintage pieces, and they collect a lot of mid-century style furniture,” Hema says. She chose the table and chairs as a focal point, but the rug was actually the impetus for the color story. “The rug used to be in the living room,” Hema recalls, but she moved it to the dining room where it seemed to belong. “I pulled the paint from the rug colors, as all the colors in the room are in the rug in a very subtle way,” she says.
As far as making all the collected items work? Hema goes with her gut and encourages people to experiment until the end result evokes the feeling they’re after. After all, there are no rules, she says.