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Publication Date: 2015-05-26

Design Insights

6 Paint Colors You Only Think You Hate

The paint aisle is full of both inspiration and opinions, and some colors never get a fair shake. But color pros Tobi Fairley and Amy Krane are here to explain why you may want to rethink those underrated hues.

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1. Brown. “Brown is quite idiosyncratic,” says architectural color consultant, Amy Krane. “It's considered masculine and drab by some,” not to mention the reticence many feel about creating a dark space. But rich browns are fantastic colors for dens and libraries, according to Krane, and using cream trim helps lighten up the effect. “The right brown can create a really cozy environment,” she says. Pair it with greens like chartreuse, pale blue and even red.

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2. Orange. Orange is either loved or reviled, Krane notes. But thanks to brands like Hermes, “it now brings to mind the ultimate in luxury,” designer Tobi Fairley adds. “Color psychology tells us this citrus shades can be invigorating, so it's great for productivity,” she says. But Krane warns, “If you're going to put orange on the wall it is best to mute it by going deep and burnt or grey'ed down. Bold orange is too much for a whole room.” Pair it with grey, blue and, for those not weak of heart, pink.

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3. White. “Yes, white really is a color,” Fairley says, and it is always in style for a kitchen. But she adds that it's also refreshing on upholstery, and can lend a crisp and clean look to a bathroom. “Layering shades of white through tones and textures adds depth and interest to a room resulting in anything but bland or boring.”

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4. Red. “Red always reminds me of a gorgeous Valentino dress,” Fairley says. “It's timeless and traditional.” But it hasn't exactly been at the height of interiors trends lately, she adds. Fear not. “Red as a dominant color, or even an accent, are both great ideas. I love a red study, a la Albert Hadley — walls, cabinets, trim, the whole shebang!” It's also great in a dining room. Maybe not the ubiquitous wall color of the 1990's, but definitely for the China. (Think, Hermes' Balcon du Guadalquivir. Or, at the very least, in the form of a great Cabernet. Cheers!)

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5. Pink. Pink has been associated with femininity since World War II, according to Krane. And in previous centuries, pink, derived from the more aggressive red, was considered masculine. “That has all changed,” she says. “Pink is a go-to color for young girls' bedrooms and few people can see beyond that. It's a pity because so many varieties of pink are gorgeous and very sophisticated.” Krane suggests using the rosy hue as a backdrop for art work and pairing it with navy or deep green.

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6. Black. “Black is coming into vogue and with good reason,” Krane says. “It creates huge drama.” Yet still, “the perception of black as ghoulish stops many from even considering it,” she adds. But the key to black is to use it in a room of medium size with a lot of natural light, and to include white trim and other colors which really pop against it. “Literally any bright or pale color will work with it well — celery green, pale yellow, mustard, red, or cobalt blue are some lovely options.” It's also a great choice for a house exterior.

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