Want to make a stylistically soggy living space snap, crackle and pop with more oomph than an invigorating breakfast cereal? Pour on the pizzazz in the form of a contrasting, bold or lively minor color, which will stand out from a milder major color in the room. It's a sure way to generate attention and energy to an otherwise mundane interior.
"For so many years, people have been scared of using lively colors, so they've stuck with neutrals like whites and tans -- hues that don't have any shock value," says Sue Layman Lightman, owner of Sue Layman Designs in Memphis, Tennessee. "But over the last couple years, preferences have shifted toward being more colorful in art, clothes and home decor."
Ashley Servis, senior interior designer with Princeton, New Jersey-based JZA+D, says this trend of infusing "pops of color" isn't new; but it's taken hold as a staple of contemporary design because of its accessibility, ease and economy.
"Adding pops of color to a room allows the homeowner to liven up a space in a way that can easily be changed and updated through the years, regardless of budget," Servis says. "It allows you to have some fun and show some personality, without committing to design trends long term."
Servis notes that color pops can easily be implemented into a room in the form of accent walls as well as decor and accessories such as framed art, throw pillows, area rugs and window treatments.
"The rule is, if there's too much of one color in a space, it's no longer a pop. Also, pops of color are usually bold; but this doesn't limit you to bright colors, as some of the best pop colors are very saturated -- for example, dark navy blue," Servis says.
Lorelei Harloe, a homeowner in Oakton, Virginia, can vouch for the vibrant effect a color pop makes.
"The wall behind the bookshelves in our family room was originally an off-white, similar to the bookshelves themselves. But we repainted that wall a deep salmon, which complements the light gray paint on adjacent walls," Harloe says. "Now, people immediately notice the warmth of the salmon wall when they enter the room, which creates a color focal point accented by the grays, beiges, reds, leather and wood colors of our fabric, furniture and décor pieces."
Pops of color can work in virtually any room, including the:
• Living room
"Choose a neutral wall paint and upholstery and then add a pop of color in the area rug, art work and throw pillows," says Jim Kabel, president of Case Design/Remodeling in San Jose, California.
"Hang a fantastically colorful glass chandelier in a neutral-painted bedroom," says Lightman, who added a blue-colored chandelier in her master bedroom. Or infuse fun colors via throw pillows, nightstand lamps and an attention-getting piece of framed art over the bed.
"Play with your backsplash by dressing up white subway tile with a bold-colored liner tile as an accent. And contrast white-colored perimeter cabinets with a deep navy island base," Kabel suggests. Additionally, add excitement to countertops with a bold-hued toaster or coffee maker and colorful hand towels.
• Family room
"Try a colorful area rug, paint two walls in accent colors adjacent to one less impactful colored wall, and add in one or two painted pieces of furniture," says Christopher Grubb, a Beverly Hills, California-based interior designer. Additionally, consider strategically placing an assortment of fresh colorful flowers in an attractive vase.
The moral to the story? Don't be afraid to express yourself with bursts of color that should be refreshing without overwhelming the room's aesthetics.
"We should all stop being afraid of color and worrying if it's the proper thing to do," Lightman says. "Just enjoy the excitement that colors bring and choose colors that make you happy."