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Decorating with Summer Colors

  • David A. Land


    Coral is a color-wheel drama queen, a hot-weather take on red—upbeat and vibrant. "It gives you the best of both worlds," says Los Angeles designer Sasha Emerson. "It's less brassy than orange, and less cheesy than the red you see on signs at used car lots." If you plan to use it on walls, make sure the room gets plenty of natural light. "You need white paneling or lots of windows to break up the color so you don't feel like you're in a big pumpkin," notes Laura Casey, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based interior designer. A pop of orangey-red on a pillow or lamp brings the glow of summer to a monochromatic room, says San Francisco Bay Area color expert Kelly Berg. "It's a lot of bang for the buck."

    Painting Tips

    —Consider the hue a bold jolt for small spaces like powder rooms, breakfast nooks, libraries, and playrooms. But never a master bedroom, where it doesn't make for a restful night's sleep, Emerson warns. White, cream, pale pink, light blue, and brown complement coral beautifully. "Turquoise and coral are gorgeous together, especially with blond furniture or Hawaiian rattan," she adds. "Just be sure they're toned down so you don't get a '50s diner effect."

    —Make a dining room inviting by painting coral on walls and using the shade as accents. Lay a sisal rug on the floor for an even more summery feel.

    2x2 dining table, $269,
    Jute diamond rug, starts at $24,

  • Bryan McCay

    Coral Essentials

    Fan coral embroidered pillow cover, $39,

  • David A. Land


    Turquoise is the ultimate summer color, playful, tropical, and fun. It energizes, but like most blues, soothes too. A hot color in the 1950s, turquoise evokes a cool, retro Mad Men vibe. Pantone deemed it the 2010 Color of the Year, so finding margarita glasses, stand mixers, even a ceramic poodle in the requisite shade, has never been easier. When choosing accessories, go with a bold, saturated blue. Scatter at least three items, like glass vases, candles, lacquer boxes, or throw pillows, throughout a room for an instant warm-weather look. "If you group all your pieces together in one area, it won't have the same impact," says Los Angeles interior designer Erinn Valencich.

    Painting Tips

    —Turquoise has a big personality, so keep large helpings of competing colors out of its path. Whites, off-whites, and tans contrast beautifully and are compatible on moldings, wainscoting, furniture, and curtains. But avoid a white ceiling, which can look harsh next to a dramatic wall, says Valencich. A lighter shade of turquoise allows the ceiling and walls to harmonize. For accents, add a dash of yellow, red, coral, or soft green. To dress up a winter room, choose accessories in chocolate brown or navy.

    —Look for a neutral turquoise, muted with gray, for the walls. "If the paint isn't grayed down a notch," says Kelly Berg, "it can look a little childish."

    White Window headboard, starts at $199,

  • Turquoise Essentials

    Elko canisters, $25/10&nbsp1/2 inch, $30/13 inch, both

  • Bryan McCay

  • David A. Land


    Nothing says sunshine better than yellow. "It complements most other colors and works easily as a primary or accent shade," says Casey. It's classic for a living room, but the color also perks up almost any room in the house, from bedrooms and kitchens to playrooms. The zingy taxicab yellow shade best avoided on painted walls is ideal as an accent on smaller items like throw pillows, curtains, and ceramics, particularly in dark rooms with lots of navy, brown, or gray.

    Painting Tip

    —For a space that doesn't get much natural light, choose a light yellow. You can go darker in an area with lots of windows and ample light. The bright hue cozies up to white with ease and is equally companionable with greens and blues, including turquoise. Introduce brown accents in the fall, try navy in the winter, and break out pinks and pale greens in the spring. "But unless you're decorating a young girl's room, don't pair yellow with coral," says interior designer Laura Casey.

  • Yellow Essentials

    Trollsta side table, $80,


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