Tag: paint

Motley Decor Kinda Sorta Predicted Pantone’s 2016 Color of the Year

A couple of weeks ago, I posted 7 Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors, in which, I listed my top picks for wall and paint colors that might not instantly jump to mind, but often turn out looking fabulous.  At the top of my list, in spots 1 and 2 were Blush and Periwinkle, respectively.  So, you can imagine my excitement when color powerhouse and paint authority Pantone announced that their 2016 Color of the Year–or more accurately their colors of the year–are Rose Quartz and Serenity.

Let’s be honest: the only difference between Rose Quartz and Blush is a pinch of beige in the latter.  Otherwise, they are both soothing, pastel shades of pink.

And Serenity is simply a shade or two lighter than Periwinkle.  Both are blue hues, bordering on violet.

So, if kinda sorta forecasting Pantone’s 2016 Color of the Year–or colors of the year–doesn’t lend Motley Decor some serious street cred, then I don’t know what…

Of course, it hadn’t occurred to me to use these two colors in concert as Pantone is clearly suggesting.  This seems like a slippery slope that could result in your “grown up” room looking like a co-ed nursery.  However, here are some tips for avoiding that…

1.  Double Down on One or the Other

2016 Color of the Year Palette Idea 1

The idea here is give priority to one of the colors and then add layers of similar shades.    In this example, Serenity combines with Indigo, Navy, and Turquoise, forming a blue majority.  Complimentary colors Cranberry and Rose Quartz serve as accents.

2.  Choose a Neutral Base

2016 Color of the Year Palette Idea 2

Sometimes establishing a neutral base, allows accent colors to be seen more clearly.  In a sea of neutrals, the eye is drawn to color and that color is untainted by competing hues.  Here, Ivory, Camel, Chocolate, and White are used generously, shifting attention to the minority shades of Rose Quartz and Serenity.  A pinch of Olive (arguably a neutral) makes a small cameo as well.

3.  Embrace Adjacent Hues

Color of the Year Palette Ideas, 3 of 3

The distance between Rose Quartz and Serenity on the color wheel is purple territory.  So, naturally, shades of violet marry well with this color combo.  Above, Thistle, Aubergine, and Grape mingle with Color of the Year 1 and Color of the Year 2 effortlessly.  To add interest, Aqua and Lake are thrown in, representing the hues adjacent to Serenity on the other side of the color wheel.

So, what do you think about Pantone’s 2016 color of the year selections?  Were you surprised?  Will this impact your home decorating plans for 2016?

Did you miss the Benjamin Moore color the year?  Their choice may surprise you…

7 Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

In my last post, I suggested 7 paint colors that are pretty much fool-proof–predictably versatile shades that shine in just about any room.  However, today, I’m exploring paint colors that  are a little dicier–unexpected color choices that are harder to pull off and riskier to try.  Still, I hope you’ll agree that–when properly executed–these paint colors pay off in spades.  Here are my humble suggestions for 7 “surprisingly chic” paint colors…


There’s no doubt about it: blush is having a moment in interior design.  On the one hand, I could argue that blush-colored paint is likely to be a passing fad.  On the other, blush is trending right now for a reason.  It’s both soothing and universally flattering and aren’t those important qualities to consider when choosing a room’s color?  Furthermore…well, just look at these blush-hued rooms…

glamorous blush pink hallway

The late style maven L’Wren Scott chose blush for most of the walls in her Paris home that she shared with Mick Jagger.  Above is an image from Vogue of their glamorous hallway in the pleasing shade, peppered with gold mirrors and frames.

blush pink painted dining room

This elegant dining room from Domino feels feminine, but also allows the more masculine abstract art and moody amethyst goblets to draw the eye, creating tension and contrast.

NY living room in blush pink paint

NYMag captured this fantastic example of a blush room that feels less feminine and more just plain stylish.  Wonderfully edited, gray shagreen cabinets and  flashes of gold harmonize with the pale pink hue.


Although it’s an undeniably beautiful shade–medium pastel blue leaning ever so slightly towards lavender–periwinkle is rarely a paint color contender for rooms outside of nurseries.  But it’s a damn shame, because periwinkle can look like this…

periwinkle painted entrance

Who wouldn’t want to come home to this periwinkle painted wall?  It’s a “happy” blue shade that compliments exquisite pieces like a Fornasetti chest or antique chair.  Photo from 1stDibs.

periwinkle blue dining room

This periwinkle blue dining room from the pages of Style and Substance is yet another gorgeous use of paint.  The unexpected hue sets off the neoclassical chairs and sculptural dining table and is a perfect foil to the bright red coral light fixtures.

a painted periwinkle moment

The perfect backdrop for an unlikely mix of furnishings, objects, and art?  Periwinkle blue!  In this AD France featured home, color acts as the glue that unites a delightful motley of styles with an air of whimsy.


A mixture of red, orange, and brown, terracotta is ideal for creating a warm, inviting setting where one can feel at home, enveloped by the color of “baked earth”.  Thus, this hue suggests intimacy and perhaps a humble quality that often precludes it from entering art-filled salons and contemporary entertaining spaces.  However, these homeowner embraced it nonetheless and the risk paid off…

monochromatic terracotta dining room

Old world charm dominates this terracotta dining room that somehow still feels updated in a monochromatic palette.  From Architectural Digest.

terracotta wall & mini bar

Justine Cushing’s apartment, featured in House Beautiful, boasts textured terracotta walls, containing her enviable furnishings, like that mid century chrome bar cart.

terracotta living room in a brooklyn brownstone

Nick Olson opted for a high contrast color palette of terracotta and turquoise–accented with ruby–for this delicious Brooklyn brownstone.  Image via Architectural Digest.

Electric Indigo

This daring shade is simultaneously dark and vibrant, instantly capturing one’s attention and charging a space with excitement.  Made famous by the first two examples below, this paint color has yet to achieve the popularity it deserves.

Jardin Majorelle in Electric Indigo blue paint

A historical and magical place, the Jardin Majorelle was originallly the santuary of painter Jacques Majorelle and later the rescued and lovingly restored by Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent, catapulting this blue-bathed oasis to iconic status.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul

On the other side of the world, another painter by the name of Frida Kahlo had a similar vision for her garden in Mexico.  La Casa Azul, now a museum maintained in her honor, radiates a surreal shade of blue, attracting Kahlo fans and stunning passersby.  (This image is marked www.Gardener.ru, but I was unable to find the right page on their site.)

electric indigo blue paint color

Brought inside, electric indigo blue paint looses none of its vibrancy.  Sieger Design embraced this notion, painting the dining room of their offices in their signature blue-meets-purple, shown here thanks to Apartment Therapy.

Blood Orange

Often associated with the iconic brand Hermès, blood orange is another bold choice for wall color that demands attention.  Generally, colors with this level of intensity aren’t expected to play well with others, but blood orange is an exception to that rule, pairing wonderfully with everything from sky blue to tomato red to charcoal gray.  Just look…

blood orange painted living room

This maximalist living room (featured by Lonny) absolutely sparkles in blood orange lacquer, pairing with black trim, baby blue velvet, brass accessories, and a gray-toned Picasso.

Blood Orange + 6 Other Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

A tomato red floating shelf is a surprising but clever choice for this blood orange wall photographed by Architectural Digest.  A gilded frame and pair of rock crystal obelisks add an extra dose of glamour.

Blood Orange, One of 7 Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

Raymond Goins also opted for a shiny lacquer finish when he coated this small space in vibrant blood orange paint.  Asian-inspired pottery and a pair of whippets punctuate the bold choice.

Butter Yellow

Butter yellow is another paint color rarely seen outside a nursery and another crying shame that it’s so.  This color emulates glowing light, against which softer decor melts right in and edgier decor makes an even bolder statement.  The fact that it’s unexpected choice is likely a contributing factor to its “wow factor” in these rooms…

Butter Yellow Dining Room + 6 Other Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

Jean-Louis Deniot masterfully mixed warm, butter yellow walls with moodier neutrals and edgy metallics to create a dining space that is chic and inviting.  From Elle Decor.

Butter Yellow Living Room & 6 More Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors for Your Walls

A traditional living room (found on All About Houses) gets a luminous glow thanks to a few coats of butter yellow paint and matching sofa.  The shade is perfect for offsetting the earthtones of the framed art and the zebra rug adds graphic interest.

Butter Yellow Dining Room & 6 Other Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

Color plays a dominate role in this chic but sparsely decorated dining room from Architectural Digest.  Again, soft butter yellow coats the walls with little competition from the white panels and tone-on-tone art.  The effect is luminous and serene.

Pea Green

The words “pea” and “green” are rarely uttered in conjunction without at least a hint of disdain.  Let’s be honest: no one ever complimented your “pea green” complexion or asked a sales lady if she had any dresses in “pea green”.  It’s a drab color that recalls a certain divisive soup.  But lately, it’s been popping up in some very chic interiors.  The defense submits the following photographs into evidence:

Pea Green Dining Room & 6 Other Must-See Paint Colors

Designer Sara Gilbane expertly crafted this color scheme of indigo blue, amethyst and–yes–pea green painted walls in a lacquer finish.  Gorgeous, right?

Pea green walls & 6 More Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

Animal prints and a checkered floor provide contrast to the pea green walls, drapery, and upholstery in this wonderfully eclectic New Orleans home from the pages of Architectural Digest.

Pea Green never looked so good & 6 More Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

And finally, the room that opened my eyes to the splendor of pea green.  This is Sheila Bridges’ Harlem dining room and every angle of it is delightful.  I chose to post just this vignette (since this is already a rather lengthy post), but I highly encourage you to visit nytimes.com and see the rest of this artfully curated space.  Bridges treated pea green like a neutral (and why not? Mother nature certainly does), bringing in colors like orange, turquoise, cognac, and blush.

So, what’s the verdict?  Have you changed your mind about pea green?  What paint colors did you expect to see on this list and which paint colors surprised you?  I’d love to hear from you.

7 Fool-Proof Wall Colors

It seems like every online home decor publisher is focused on wall colors lately.  Last week, every email in my inbox was trying to convince me of the top shades.  A self-professed color fiend, I eagerly read them all and then gave it some thought…  Naturally, I didn’t agree with every wall color suggestion.  Nor could I resist compiling my own list of top wall colors.  However, for me, the top shades fall into two categories.  First, there’s the tried and true colors–those that almost always look polished, beautifully offsetting a variety of decorating styles.  That list follows in this post.  Then, there are the paint colors that surprise and delight–unexpected hues that are surprisingly chic and versatile.  Stay tuned for that list.  But first, here are my picks for 7 fool-proof, always chic wall colors…


This is a very pale shade.  Not brown or gray, putty is like a cross between taupe and just a hint of yellow.  Hard to define and conveniently neutral, putty often reads traditional, but compliments modern interiors with equal grace.  Here are some examples of chic, putty-colored walls…

putty colored dining room by Valorie Hart

New Orleans-based designer Valorie Hart drenched the walls of this dining room in putty-colored paint, creating a lovely backdrop for the eclectic mix of gilded frames, periwinkle glass lamps, and ginger-accented dining chairs.

a Putty moment

Here, putty marries with both smoky gray and earthy peach in a more modern-feeling room.

Putty colored living room

In this living room by Zize Zink, putty-colored walls and sofa blend beautifully with a wide variety of pieces, including: an art deco end table, a fun flamestitch upholstered settee, a collection of silver candlesticks, and even modern art.


This light brown to tan shade can skew warm or cool, but always makes a pleasing backdrop against which brighter color can shine.  Three of my favorite rooms with camel colored walls follow here…

Alex Papachristidis Camel Dining Room

The uber talented Alex Papachristidis chose camel for the walls of this dining room, mixing in neutral tones like chocolate and ivory as well as punchy red and shades of blue from cornflower to cobalt.

Camel bedroom vignette

In this bedroom vignette by sisters and design duo Kristen Fitzgibbons and Kelli Ford, lacquered camel walls balance the canary yellow mirror and leopard-clad chairs.  (Featured in Veranda.)

Amanda Nisbet Dining Room in Camel

This elegant, camel dining room by Amanda Nisbet plays the warmth of the walls and gilded details against cool shades of lavender and indigo, setting a stunning scene.

Dove Gray

One of the most complex and difficult colors to nail, the right gray–like dove gray–is an ideal vehicle for establishing an air of sophistication that compliments nearly any color scheme.  The challenge is identifying a shade of gray that maintains its neutrality.  Grays can often turn blue, purple, green, or brown in different lights.  Be sure to check out these tips for choosing the right shade if you’re thinking of going gray (or any color for that matter).  And, of course, here are some images of super chic homes to inspire you…

Dove Gray bedroom

Jean-Louis Deniot chose dove gray for the walls of his Los Angeles bedroom (featured by AD Russia)–a contrast to the warm wood finish of his nightstands and brass light fixture.  The other furnishings, however, follow suit in shades of texture-rich gray.

dove gray salon decorated by Katie Ridder

Dove gray envelopes this soothing but stylish salon decorated by Katie Ridder and featured in Elle Decor, complimenting a variety of neutral tones, brass fixtures, and pops of crimson.

Dove Gray Paris Apartment

This Paris apartment’s architectural details are highlighted by dove gray paint–a canvas against which works of art and unorthodox color combinations can peacefully coexist.  Photo by Richard Powers.


Departing from the aforementioned neutrals, aqua is a pale shade with surprising depth.  Nearly transparent with a hint of warmth, this shade of blue has range and widespread appeal.  Consider these aqua hued rooms…

Aqua, 1 of 7 Fool-Proof Paint Colors

In this polished living room by the Mendelson Group, aqua sets the stage for an eclectic array of furnishings, energized by a jolt of jonquil yellow.

Aqua room

AD Russia showcased this traditional-leaning space that feels fresh thanks to aqua paint and expressive art.

Aqua living room with minky brown sofa

Any color–from espresso to cobalt to aubergine to tangerine–sings against a wall of serene aqua blue.  A tiny little  aqua pillow ties the scene together for a cohesive look.  (As seen on Vogue.com)

Stormy Blue

Another blue hue that never disappoints is stormy blue-gray.  A bit moody, stormy blue works well with yellow metals and most wood finishes.  It’s a shade you’d find in a museum, offsetting art from nearly any discipline.

Fool-Proof Paint Shades | Stormy Blue

This dining room, featured by Nuevo Estilo, is a gorgeous example of the power of stormy blue.  Mixed neutrals harmonize in its presence, beckoning a motley of styles to intermingle.

stormy blue living room with traditional painting

A sleek silver velvet sofa and traditional painting are equally at home against that perfectly moody, stormy blue wall.

sophisticated stormy blue space

This space oozes sophistication thanks to carefully curated modern art and furnishings and stormy blue walls with gilded panels.


With its deep, saturated pigment, espresso lends a space a sense of drama.  However, I think espresso owes its allure (at least in part) to its cool undertones–an unexpected quality in brown shades that typically run warm.  Check out these espresso brown rooms…

Espresso brown walls

Federico De Vera’s espresso brown walls (via Elle Decor) are studded with art and an arresting sight.

Espresso | 7 Fool-Proof Paint Colors

Also from Elle Decor, this photograph captures Sig Bergamin’s use of deep, espresso paint to offset a rainbow of colors, an array of furnishings, and a riot of patterns.

masculine espresso brown room

A funky, masculine vibe dominates this nearly-all-brown sitting area (from Lonny) where an espresso-hued wall brings out the richness of the chocolaty brown velvet sofa.

Moody Teal

By far the boldest recommendation on this list, there’s just something about a moody teal room.  It feels sultry, mysterious, and impossibly chic.  I can’t help but be moved as look at these teal rooms.  Can you?

teal dining room

This dining room has a whimsical feel, tempered by moody teal walls and drapery.  Found on Tumblr.

a teal and amethyst salon

Moody teal joins forces with ethnic textiles, an amethyst Murano glass chandelier, and a snakeskin coffee table to compose an impressive scene decorated by Landy Gardner.

stunning dark teal dining room

And last but not least, a moody teal dining room with Gothic windows and mid century furniture (featured by LATimes) is the final example of this gorgeous shade.

Ready to paint?  Whether you were inspired by this list or not, leave a comment and tell us what wall colors you considered and ultimately chose.  Happy painting!

How to Choose the Right Paint Color

Choosing the right paint color can be tricky for a home decorator.  Selecting a color family isn’t always an easy task.  Settling on the perfect shade can be even more difficult.  Light is deceiving and paint samples are misleading.  It’s a terrible feeling when you look around a fully painted room and come to the realization that you got the paint color wrong.  It’s wasted time and money and just plain frustrating.  If you can’t tell, I’ve been there.

But I’ve also learned from my mistakes.  And now, I have a near fool-proof system for avoiding that cataclysm and choosing the perfect paint color every time–at least–it hasn’t failed me yet.

Step 1

Invest in a fan deck.  It usually costs about $30 and well worth the investment if you’re planning on choosing paint for more than one room in your home.  It’ll give you all the options available in your chosen colorway and allow you to easily compare similar shades.  Whatever you do, do NOT make any decisions in the paint store.  The florescent lighting you find there is as different as can be from the natural and artificial lighting in most homes.

Step 2

Use the fan deck to identify shades of interest in the room that is to be painted.  Make sure to consider all lighting situations: day and night, both in direct light and in the shadows.   In addition, examine how the contending colors look next to the room’s furniture and textiles.  This should help you narrow down your potential paint colors to 2-5 shades.

Step 3

Buy a sample of each of your finalist shades along with a canvas board and paintbrush for each paint color.  Paint each canvas board with its own color and brush, noting the color on the back of the board.  Allow them to dry and then  take them back into the room for consideration, repeating the same steps you went through with the fan deck.

By this point, the winner should rise to the top and allow you to confidently invest in your paint color…and maybe even a professional painter.  Hope these steps work as well for you as they have for me!


3 Ways to Pack a Punch with Paint

A little paint can go a long way in addressing decorating woes, adding an impactful dose of color–even in small quantities.  Here are 3 tips for painting projects that minimize time and expense, but pack a punch in the end.

1.  Remember: It’s What’s Inside that Counts

Painting the interior of a cabinet, bookshelf or built-in storage unit is a decorating device that never fails to impress.  Not only can it provide a pop of color, but it’s also an opportunity to offset the books, vases, and decorative objects therein.  Here are some stellar examples…

Gray built-ins with pink interiors

This wonderfully eclectic room in the Hôtel La Belle Juliette features chic gray built-ins with lovely pink interiors, as seen on Casa Vogue.

painted green shelf interior

Designer Mary McDonald used a citrusy green paint to line the hutch of this breakfast nook.

paint the interior of your shelves

Photographer Richard Powers captured this white dining room with bookshelves painted black inside, creating a dramatic backdrop for the collection of colorful books.

2.  Show Off Your Shape

Covering a shapely or intricate piece of furniture in color is another great use of paint.  The new hue will accentuate the beauty of the piece–especially if the rest of the space is streamlined and/or more subdued in color.  Just look at what a little paint did for the furnishings in these rooms…

Louis Vuitton turquoise planters

Louis Vuitton’s historic home–now La Galerie–boasts a pair of exquisite seahorse planters coated in vibrant turquoise.

red lacquer paint

This Victorian hat rack radiates character in red lacquer, pictured in House Beautiful.

Abigail Ahern's teal table

Interior Designer Abigail Ahern is noted for her moody interiors, but this ornately carved teal table demonstrates her more playful side. From PopSugar

3.  Don’t Forget “All the Trimmings”

White and ivory are pretty much the standard when it comes to trim in home interiors.  It’s so common that we expect to see floors and doors outlined in “default” white.  On the flip side, when a decorator deviates from the norm and paints trim in virtually any other shade, the results catch us off guard and leave a lasting impression.  Admittedly, painting trim is a larger endeavor than the previous two recommendation in this post, but it’s so worth it.  (I painted my trim black a couple of years and am glad of it everyday.)  But see for yourself…

turquoise trim

This snazzy kitchen, featured by AD Russia, is largely neutral with jolts of turquoise in the banquet and cabinetry that is echoed in the trim.

black trim by Kelly Wearstler

Kelly Wearstler outlined this bar with black trim, lending it a more sophisticated and moody vibe. via MyDomaine

blush trim instead of white or ivory

Incredible wallpaper by Timorous Beasties is shown here with on-trend, blush-colored trim.

Happy painting if you’re so inclined!


Benjamin Moore’s 2016 Color of the Year

Having grown up in a home with a strict “white walls only” rule, I can’t say I was very excited when I read that Benjamin Moore chose “Simply White” as its 2016 color of the year on  Architectural Digest.  But such is life.

Admittedly, white offers a sense of serenity and implied cleanliness.  And so many fantastic, on-trend materials are inherently white like: mother of pearl, sheepskin, plaster, papier-mâché, Carrara marble, and opaline glass.  Also, an all white (or largely white) palette also allows for more intense contrasts in styles and textures without being overwhelming.  And, of course, I have this thing for albino animals.  There’s gotta be some exciting opportunities there.  OK, I’m on board with white playing a big role in 2016’s interiors.  So, naturally, I scour the internet for the most exquisitely designed white rooms.  Here’s what I found…


remarkable white living room in Stockholm

Mats Gustafson’s Stockholm living room via NYTimes

With an oversize paper lantern, sheepskin throws, and white swan; this living room has me loving white.


a peaceful white living room

Architect Daniel Romualdez’s home via WSJ.com

A first glance, this room is calm and peaceful…but interesting!  The neutral, white palette allows the forms and shapes of the room’s eclectic furnishings to take precedence–from the Danish chairs to the old world and contemporary sculptures.  White definitely seems like the right choice.


Karl Lagerfeld's all white dining room

Featured in Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People Karl Lagerfeld’s all white dining room is just beautiful

Leave it Karl Lagerfeld to make an all white room this luxurious and chic…marble floors, a plaster sunburst mirror, and white washed caned and gilded dining furniture…


chalky white sitting room

A white wonderland by Anne Pyne of McMillen via Elle Decor

In this Manhattan townhouse, a chalky white (seldom found in nature) palette acts as a foil to the botanical themes found the in the wallpaper, light fixture, and faux bois furniture.  Geometric shapes and patterns reinforce that tension and make the room feel fresh and up-to-date.


a white-hot dining room

A white-hot dining room in Madrid via Nuevo Estilo

Old and new collide with fantastic results in this Madrid dining room.  Mod furniture and a sputnik chandelier marry beautifully with ornate mouldings and traditional urns thanks to a restrained use of color.  The dominance of white also makes the art and colored glass really pop.


A glamorous white living room

A glamorous largely white living room via Elle Decor

In this fantastic living room, white is less about calmness and more about glamour.  Mixed metals and crystals sparkle a little brighter in this light-filled space.


white living room with character

Alex Hitz’s stylish white living room as featured in House Beautiful

Shades of white permeate this living room, accompanied by leopard print, gleaming metallics, and a towering stylized painting.  The result is unique, eclectic, and very chic.


As it turns out, white is pretty versatile and far from boring.  It’s an excellent vehicle for imparting a sense of calm or for showcasing texture, sculpture, or luster.  It can be understated, glamorous, or even quirky.  I guess the folks at Benjamin Moore know what they’re doing.  Keep an eye out for stunning “Simply White” interiors in 2016 and check out Motley Decor’s top shopping picks in white to get a jump start on crafting your own.


Looking for a little more color in your life?  Check out Patone’s 2016 color of the year.

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