“I think color is the thing that really counts more than any other,” said Henry Francis du Pont in reflecting on his approach to decorating long after Winterthur had opened as a museum.
Color is the most important characteristic of interior design; it is the glue that holds everything together. Color has a powerful emotional impact; it determines how you feel in a space. And it is one of the major decisions one makes when decorating a room–one that’s not easily changed.
H. F. du Pont’s coloristic approach can be seen in the Queen Anne Dining Room, where the soft green woodwork from a mid-18th-century house in New Hampshire forms the perfect backdrop for chairs upholstered in a bold patterned, resist-dyed fabric. While both cool colors, the subtle shade of the green walls and the strong Indigo blue work together effortlessly to create a warm and inviting room.
It is the contrast of color, form, pattern, and texture that creates this beautiful look. With the exception of the priceless antiques, this is a surprisingly casual, livable dining room that could be enjoyed in modern times.
What is most interesting to me as a designer is how the color combination chosen by du Pont has such lasting appeal. Both the wood paneling and fabric represent the 18th century, yet could be used in decorating today. Whether or not you are a fan of the color green, remember that color does not exist in isolation. One color takes on its identity when placed next to another. The great colorist painters, such as Cezanne, Matisse, and Turner knew this, as did du Pont.
There are so many creative ways to use the color green in creating a beautiful room. Whether your taste is a formal home with lavish accents or a cozy beach cottage, you can find inspiration from the charming room examples throughout this post.
In this photo from Veranda, the tablecloth in a beautiful shade of rosemary green damask pairs nicely with the steel blue leather on the dining chairs. Note how the curvature of the table and chairs is similar to the forms in the Queen Anne Dining Room. Here, the designer tones down the formality of the architecture and crystal and gilt accents with leather upholstered chairs, simple silk drapery panels, and a sisal rug. The subtle blend of colors leaves this chic room with a feeling of calm.
Here again, we see an elegantly appointed traditional dining room with a strong color palette of green and blue. The chairs are upholstered in a Mediterranean blue velvet, while soft green silk draperies frame the background. The chili pepper red used as an accent picks up color from the de Gournay wallpaper and creates a bit of intensity.
Greens are fresh, inspired by nature, and can be found all around us. When I think of green I think of fresh limes, pears, apples, moss, lichen, mint, sage, emeralds, jade, pistachio, and verdigris. The Maine Cottage paint colors in green inspired me to decorate a house in Charleston, South Carolina, for a young woman who loves bright color inspired by the beauty of the beach and the islands.
There are so many creative ways to use the color green in designing a beautiful room—and so many variations from which to choose. What is your favorite shade of green?
As the principal designer with Winterthur Design Associates, Sandy Brown loves to incorporate personal collections of her clients. She feels that antiques connect us to the past in a personalized and meaningful way. A graduate of the master’s program of Drexel University’s School of Design, Sandy brings a comprehensive knowledge of interior architecture and decorative arts to her design work.
To speak to Sandy directly and get her design advice, we invite you to stop into the Museum Store for Design Days on Thursday afternoons in September and October.