Once upon a time I loved mixing colors and patterns, the bolder the better (farewell my beloved gold and orange Adidas sneakers). But as the years have passed I became more aware of my surroundings, and color, like any other component in design, became almost too tangible to me.
Design affects our state of mind in an immediate way, whether we acknowledge it or not, and after experimenting with different styles and methods, I personally find that neutrals are my comfort zone and happy place.
But don't get me wrong, there's still a room in my all-neutral-monochrome heart for color, only it needs to be calculated and purposeful for me to enjoy it.
Color is fun, color is joy, and I think that's why applying color into a design is often considered a playful, capricious act. But believe it or not, it's not.
It requires deliberation and calculation. If the end result appears playful, it doesn't mean the process was playful as well. It means the process was successfully thoughtful.
What is a well designed space to me? It's a place where you feel comfortable and at ease. Your heart expands as you feel calm and soothed by the harmony of your surroundings, there's nothing clashing or overwhelming. The design simply makes sense.
Achieving that might sound easy using an all-neutral color scheme (though it's not). But how do you achieve that harmony while using multiple colors?!
Stick To a Strict Color Scheme
This visual feast of a home designed by the artist Angela Chrusciaki Blehm might look whimsical at first glance, but if you examine it closely you'll find a distinct color scheme that guided her.
The wooden floors and white walls form a neutral background, into which blues, reds, yellows and blacks elements are applied. Nothing more. Thanks to a strict method this colorful space doesn't feel too crowded or overwhelming.
Same thing can be seen here in this Mid-Century house in Australia designed by Studio Gorman. The neutral background of white walls, wooden floors and furniture is complemented by 3 bold colors - red, yellow and black - in different ratio, to form together a soothing atmosphere.
The same bold colors appear throughout the entire house to tie the design together.
Can you spot an old yellow Volkswagen camper van peeking through a window in the far end? Even the vehicle matches the design!
Following a strict color scheme is especially important when you want to go extreme , adding texture and pattern to a colorful design, like shown in this Copenhagen residence above. Creating an intricate master piece such as this takes self control to keep you from straying.
Despite the complexity of the space it is still pleasing and not at all overwhelming thanks to a repetitive use of 3 color groups: cream-beige-brown, pink-red and blue.
As a long-time minimalist I have to admit that I wouldn't mind at all having this work of art of maximalism as my living room. This is the image of happiness!
Patterned wall paper, patterned sofa and patterned floor in different hues of blue take the majority of the space and are accompanied by a red chair, red wall art and a rich yellow curtain, cleverly combined together.
Yes, life in color is fun, but curating this living room required some serious work, and it was definitely worth it.
If mixing patterns and styles is too much for you, creating color blocks is a great, minimalist way to brighten up a space.
In this London apartment, designed by Architect David Chipperfield, a restrained palette transforms the space into a contemporary and colorful home.
Each component in this space serves as a different color block, from the floor, to the kitchen, walls, sofa and rug. It's so colorful and yet so clean, elegant and airy.
This minimalist Scandinavian living room has a more modest use of color blocks, with brown leather chairs, bright yellow coffee table and pink screen as a wall art. All 3 distinctive colors are warm
colors that go well with the neutral background and compliment each other.
The Golden Ratio
The golden ratio is a mathematical sequence found to occur in nature and its proportions considered pleasing to the eye. It's the reason why arranging items in odd numbers or in proportion of thirds feels more grounded and soothing.
Looking at the golden ratio in terms of thirds or 60/30/10 helps to apply it in your home as you consider each element using this ratio, from the number of items to the scale of furniture and even down to your home's color scheme.
This minimalist dining room in Barcelona, designed by Architect Román Sarrió and designer Gabriela Comella, has neutral tones with only one pop of bold red. It looks like the easiest, safest way to use color in design, but saying that doesn't do this room justice, because it is far more complex and sophisticated.
The configuration of this dining room is so modest and spartan, that the red color dominating it has its own weight, almost enough to be considered as a piece of furniture in and of itself.
If we examine the colors' proportions we'll find that the white background forms 60% of the space, red is 30% and the natural tone of the wooden floor is 10%. Together they form a 100% perfectly pleasing dining room.
This family cottage in London will blow your minds as oriental items and patterns are mixed with old-fashioned, traditional style and basic colors in different ratio.
In the hands of less experienced or less gifted person this home could have turned into a bad joke, but in the skillful hands of Interior designer Lonika Chande an original, harmonious family home was created, and subconsciously or not, you can find the Golden Ratio in every room.
In the above bedroom the yellow clearly dominates the design, then the red and lastly light touches of green, whereas in the nursery shown below it changes to a combination of red-brown, blue and yellow.
To sum it up, I would love spending some time in any of the above homes, but I wonder for how long my content will last, and whether it's not too consuming or over stimulating for everyday life.
Because deep down, although my heart skips with joy when seeing this colorful richness, I still long for a peaceful surrounding, which I find over and over again in monochrome minimalism.
Yes, That image below is a great example of a peaceful, rich design.
It's settled then. For my busy, hectic, crazy daily life I'm going monochrome.
And as for a vacation destination I'm choosing as bold and colorful as it gets, like this one-of-a-kind hotel in Paris, designed by Luke Edward Hall.
Hotel les duex gares, here I come!