Is there any decorating skill more exciting or scarier than using color? Yes, we all say we want the personalization and drama that color brings, but the challenges of making it work are enough to send DIY homeowners whimpering to designers.
Thom Filicia, known for his television shows, especially "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," gives solid decorating tips, including how to use color, in his new book, "American Beauty," which tells the story of remodeling and decorating his vacation home in the Finger Lakes region of New York state.
And he wants you to be brave and follow your instincts.
"The biggest mistakes people make are when they're afraid to take any kind of bold steps. They might love a certain color but go with something safer or really love a sofa but pick another. You'll get bored with your decisions more quickly. A more personalized room is more dynamic and interesting and powerful," he said in an interview with the Daily Herald.
To help out, Filicia explains different ways to take on the color bugaboo.
"If I told you I was going to take a red chambray sofa, pair it with a green ottoman, and put yellow cushions on it, you'd blanch."
But that's what he does in his sunroom.
"The red is earthy, the green a pale hue found in nature, the yellow a quiet mustard," he writes.
And he did the same thing with the blues in a guest room.
"The blues are slate and gray-blues, accented with bits of yellow and orange."
Filicia put linen in a deep blue on the walls of his dining room.
The furniture is tailored, and lots of white trim and reflective nail heads keep the bold shade from dominating the room.
Third, punches of color.
In the living room Filicia also used the method we are probably more comfortable with -- a neutral palette of beiges and grays punched with red and blue artwork.
The designer put wallpaper with birds and butterflies in bright blue, green and orange on the raised and beamed ceiling of the powder room.
The dining room illustrates another of Filicia's skills -- shapes and lines.
He also designs furniture, and says the white-finished Greek-Peak dining room chairs were inspired by klismos chairs from ancient Greece. The backs are either an open frame or filled with the blue linen. The flared back legs join together to form the post that holds up that frame. In the living room the dramatic Strathmore console or sideboard is supported by a large wooden circle with two semicircles on the sides. This shape continues in a round mirror on the mantel of the stone fireplace.
Filicia explains his New Americana style this way -- mid-century-modern shapes covered in relaxed linen with piping and nail heads and a brown waxed finish on the wood parts for a clubby library feel.
"It's something authentic that also feels new," he said in the book.
Another important lesson in the book is how to mix casual and sophisticated.
Filicia does this with balance, anchoring the living room with his Skaneateles sofa, a midcentury shape with traditional detail. More contemporary chrome end tables and polished nickel lamps provide zing and "a nice kick in the pants" compared with the dark wood of the couch. And everything is repeated throughout the room, including wood tones and touches of chrome.
And when he added chairs to the living room he made each different in one note -- such as the color of the wood arms -- then kept other aspects like shape and texture the same.