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Home & Garden

January 2, 2014

Add color to your home without going psychadelic



By Toni Guagenti
Virginian-Pilot correspondent



A Tiffany blue door marks the threshold between the outside world and a celebration of color that awaits inside Joyce Scher’s North End beach house.

Bright, bold hues mark every room of the two-story home – from the pinks and yellows in the furniture to the explosion of cheery tones in the paintings that dot the walls.

“She loves bright colors,” said Sharon Southall, the designer who helped Scher organize her collections and bring together the vibrant decor.

Forget the 50 shades of gray – or beige or taupe – that people often decorate with nowadays. Experts say it’s not hard to add color into your world without going psychedelic.

You just have to know what you’re doing – or get someone who does to help you.

Scher loves pink – all shades, from lily to mauve – and that is reflected in the interior of her beach house.

Scher lives in Richmond with her husband, Norm Scher, and they use the Hampton Roads structure as a getaway.

Southall brought pink into the rattan dining room furniture, which used to be terra cotta, by first whitewashing it in a light pink shade and then decorating it with seashell tassels.

A carousel zebra – with a pink saddle, of course – sits in one corner of the dining room, next to a huge painting of carousel horses galloping off the canvas.

The whimsical artwork throughout the house tells a story of a homeowner who thrives on bold colors. Southall often finds the pieces when she’s buying for other clients or during her twice-a-year trips to the furniture market in High Point, N.C.

The kaleidoscope of colors continues upstairs, where a tufted, turquoise stool sits in a loft next to a chaise lounge covered in a fabric with yellow, pink and sea foam stripes.

Southall recommended easing into a decorating-with-color plan. Start by picking a shade you like – or a piece of furniture or a rug – and building from there.

For Sherry Potts and David Woollen, that meant teal.

The couple downsized to a smaller home in the Linlier neighborhood less than two years ago and knew they would have to restyle the rancher to reflect their tastes and the home’s gorgeous views of Linkhorn Bay.

Potts found a teal chandelier that had rested in a back bedroom while the house was being renovated. The piece went well with a print she had purchased in Key West, Fla., several years back. The artwork features yellows, teals and even reds.

No matter where you go in Potts’ and Woollen’s home, teal ties the rooms together – whether it’s featured on the bottom portion of a wall in the master bathroom or the light fixture above the dining room table.

In her husband’s office, Potts used a bird-of-paradise shade that also makes its way throughout the house. The color shows up on kitchen walls and living room curtains and in paintings above the fireplace, including one of a red rose.

The entryway, too, has been transformed with bright tones that play nicely with the black-and-white checkered marble floor. A polka-dot bench offers seating, and hanging lights show off shades of teal, green and orange.

In the entryway’s center sits a pedestal table that designer Southall found for the couple. Atop the table is a statue named “Bella,” who sits in a sultry, Marlene Dietrich pose with a faux fur draped over her shoulders and – for the holidays – a Santa hat atop her head.

“I knew she needed to be here,” Potts said. “She needed to be on the water.”

Debbie Pearl, design sales associate at Decorum Furniture’s Hilltop store in Virginia Beach, said there are ways to bring color into your world without overdoing it.

Start by adding bolder shades with pieces like area rugs, throw pillows, vases and artwork.

“You can add a splash of color without adding a bright orange sectional,” Pearl said.

Although some people continue to decorate with orange – Pantone’s color of the year in 2012 was tangerine tango – Pearl said chartreuse is popular, as well as sea-foam green.

Purple also is finding its way into homes, Pearl said. Pantone’s color for next year is radiant orchid, which Pantone’s website describes as having fushcia, purple and pink undertones.

“A lot of people are frightened of a lot of color, and a lot of people are afraid they might get sick of it in a couple years,” Pearl said.

So, she said, it’s easier to change out accent pieces, especially cheaper ones like table runners, placemats and area rugs.

For Scher, bold colors are right up her decorating alley, and that shows in her beach house.

“It’s my playhouse,” Scher said. “I’ve had it for almost 25 years; it’s just been a place to escape to.”

Scher said she’s always been drawn to color.

“And I love mixing things,” she said. “I’m not rigid at all about style; it’s what makes me happy.”

And that, Southall said, is the important thing.

“I think that’s what color does – it does make you smile.”

Toni Guagenti,


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