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While color has been creeping back into interiors for several years now, decorators have hedged their bets by advocating neutral walls and upholstery, enlivened by mere "shots" of color in pillows or a cashmere throw. This strategy is changing, according to Leslie Harrington, a color specialist who operates LH Color, in Old Greenwich.
"If people use color today, it's not going to be just an orange cushion. It's more likely to be an orange sofa, an orange carpet or even orange walls. People are becoming more color conscious."
There's also a new realization that when a room is grounded in tones that are pastel or very closely hued, things can easily clash and look out of place. "If you place a red sofa in a white-walled room, it can look a bit jumpy," remarks James Martin, head of The Color People, a Denver-based color consulting firm. "But place a red sofa in a room that's painted with color and you can add a blue or green chair, or even a paisley one. Color is the perfect way to fuse different tastes." Acclaimed designers William Diamond and Anthony Baratta couldn't agree more. The duo have been infusing color into their designs for a quarter of a century. In their new book from Bulfinch, Diamond Baratta Design, they declare that their "control over color lets us layer pattern on pattern in a harmonious way."
Color is also a way to assert individuality. Consider how the iPod is marketed in a wide spectrum of shades, or how one can now color-coordinate household appliances, such as a KitchenAid mixer, just as easily as a pair of Converse sneakers or a skateboard. Some suggest that America, at least in regards to color, is becoming less isolationist and more willing to accept influences from other peoples and places.
"Fear is going down, and there's much more experimentation," concludes James Martin. "What have been minority cultures are seeping into our lives. We are loosening up, and we're liking it!"