You already know I’m all about color, bold choices, and joyful design. After all, designing a home is about creating a happy, elevated place where you feel your best. Boring is just not going to cut it.
But… I’m also realistic. Not everyone thinks like us. You might be itching to immerse your home in color, or you might be a little hesitant to give it a try. Though every client who comes to us does want color, the way we express it depends on their personality and the purpose of the space. And that’s okay. We make it work.
Color can be maximal or minimal, lively or soothing, monochromatic or a blend of different hues. It has rules that can be followed or — if you know what you’re doing — broken. Best of all, it requires us to get creative, making your home truly one of a kind.
Ready to open your mind to color’s potential in your home? Come get inspired…
1. Wall-to-Wall Painted Millwork
Painted millwork can take a space from boring to badass in an instant, and there are several ways we can do it. One option is to dress the entire room in colorful built-ins, like we did in this sky blue music room above. The effect feels immersive without being overpowering. The other option is…
2. Single Feature Wall with Millwork
We can take a more measured approach by picking just ONE feature wall. In the Golden Gate Project, we created teal shelving and cabinets backed in sunset-hued ombré wallpaper. It feels more daring and creative than the music room, but its smaller scale keeps it approachable.
3. Solid or Ombré Wallpaper
Speaking of wallpaper, it is soooo much better than it used to be. We absolutely love it. The secret to using it well is location. In our Insta-famous dining room, ombré wallpaper feels subtle yet sophisticated. To help the wallpaper really shine on its own, we kept the room dichromatic in mostly blue and white.
4. Patterned Wallpaper
I could put 100 photos here and they’d all be different. Wallpaper is art all on its own, and each has its own vibe. In this rose-and-denim primary bedroom, the pattern has a fun and almost cloud-like feel. The powder room? Total opposite. This toile wallpaper pays homage to local Bay Area legends, from rapper Mac Dre to culinary trailblazer Alice Waters and activist Angela Davis. Talk about a conversation starter.
5. Tile in a Uniform Color
For those who like to play it a little safer, choosing tile in a uniform color is a good way to go. And fortunately, it doesn’t restrict us in creativity either. We can create an entirely different bathroom design by pairing the color with the tile’s shape (square, rectangle, penny, diamond, fish scale, etc.), the finish (high gloss, matte, mosaic, tumbled-edge), the size (large, medium, and small), and the layout of the tiles themselves (vertical, subway, herringbone, etc.)
P.S. With a zillion options available, you can see why it’s best to hire a pro, right? Right.
6. Unique Patterned Tile
Just to add another variable to tile selection, there’s always the option to select or create a pattern. This strategy works best in spaces that are fairly neutral everywhere else, so that the tile stands out on its own. (Yes, blue is a neutral.) You can use patterned tile for kitchen backsplashes, flooring, showers, laundry rooms, and more.
7. Vibrant Statement Island
Helloooo, fuschia. This kitchen in Trestle Glen is another great example of patterned tile, but it also has some daring personality with the two-tone island. We made it feel cohesive by pulling out one of the colors from the tiles and using it underneath these waterfall counters. It feels cheerful without being in your face! (The blue island shown in #5 above is a more subtle example of a statement island — the choice is yours!)
8. Standout Furnishings
Here are two great examples of colorful furnishings. The first — these standout barstools — are the safe option. If you have a neutral kitchen, you could easily add bold bar stools for a punch of color. The daffodil yellow sofa, however, is a bolder choice that requires a pro. It only works because we designed the entire room to accommodate it, with multi-colored window treatments, brass finishes, and other complementary accents.
9. Color-Loving Art & Pillows
Art is such a fun way to bring color into your home. And the best part? It’s personal. What resonates with you isn’t going to be the same as your mother-in-law, coworker, or neighbor. We can use the art you love to bring together the other colors in the room, like we did in this mostly neutral DC living room and this vibrant entryway in SF. The same is true for throw pillows.
10. Kid-Friendly, Playful Palette
Kids’ rooms are great places to play with color! In this boy’s bedroom in Oakland, the boldly painted bunk bed and storage cabinets steal the spotlight. We kept the rest of the room mostly neutral for flexibility. In a few years, if he changes his mind about the burst of red and orange, it can easily be repainted to match his mood. No stress.
11. Painted Ceilings or Trim
Don’t forget about the “fifth'' wall — aka the ceiling. From a design perspective, adding a bright hue to the ceiling draws your eye upward making the space feel larger than it is. This is great for smaller rooms, like kids’ spaces (such as this reading nook), walk-in closets, laundry rooms, and powder rooms. You can also try colorful trim (like I did in Zoe’s room) for an extra punch.
12. A Colorful Area Rug
Remember — your area rug is legit holding down the room. It grounds the room and creates a boundary that helps define the space. While there are as many rug options as there are wallpaper and tile options, my advice is to always pick your area rug at the same time as you pick your furnishings for the rest of the room. Doing this allows us to make sure the look, feel, and color scheme work together.
13. Statement Vanity
Would you look at that — a white space! Who would have thought, right?? While most people know to never ask us for an all-white kitchen, we do believe there’s a time and place for neutrals. When it comes to spaces designated for relaxation, we often (but not always) tone things down a notch. However, that doesn’t mean it's boring!
In this primary bathroom, we used patterned tile to bring in interest the same way color would. Then, we added a sea green custom vanity. The color is deep, saturated, and perfect for the relaxing, spa-inspired vibe this family wanted.
14. Um… Custom Carpet?!
On the flip side, sometimes you don’t want a space to be relaxing. Case in point: a gym that gets your heart pumping. This was my personal home gym, where I custom-designed a large-scale, colorful carpet (from scratch). It practically screams “motivation,” doesn’t it? Paired with a bold black accent wall and a lively yellow ceiling, this dynamic space sends energy levels through the roof.
15. The Laundry Room
You got me — this isn’t a design technique. But I say the laundry room deserves a headline of its own because let’s face it, doing laundry isn’t exactly a thrill. There are a million other things I’d rather spend my time on. The only thing that seems to make it better? A design that excites you. And who knows, the right design may even inspire the kids to get in here and help. No promises.
It’s Your Turn
In the end, design isn’t about a look. It’s about the way your home inspires you to think, feel, and live. It’s about impact. Yes, you can renovate and achieve a complete transformation (if so, we’ve got your back), but that’s not always the only way.
If you’re searching for easy ways to elevate your home without the drama, we have your solution…
In the meantime, I hope these projects inspire you to embrace out-of-the-box design choices in your home. As always, if you need some help, we’re here and ready to make it happen for you.