Architecture decor

This room is a lesson in decking your home with vivid colour. See more—

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Image: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Bold fresh colours travel well in this sophisticated abode.

Turquoise, chartreuse and blush are hues you’d normally associate with an eclectic beachside abode with a dreamy Caribbean sunset, not a transitional interior in a big city. But in this newly built 4,200-square-foot Washington, D.C., home owned by a pair of recent empy nesters, the place and palette are in perfect harmony.

“The wife has always loved turquoise,” says designer Erica Burns, who collaborated with GTM Architects and Sandy Spring Builders to execute the look. “She told me the hue made her happy, so we ran with it!” Turquoise became the home’s principal unifying colour, seen on walls, furnishings and accessories, but it’s tempered by lots of neutrals. “We opted for mostly light beige walls, creamy upholstery and white oak floors,” says Erica. “An all-white backdrop would have read too cool, but warmer neutrals add movement and sophistication.”

That said, the use of vivid colour is what really distinguishes the home. It makes its statement as soon as you walk in the front door and look to the right: Glossy turquoise paint cloaks the panelled library, where the homeowners enjoy an evening cocktail or relax with their books.

“When you pick a strong colour like turquoise, the other hues you use should complement it, not compete with it,” says Erica of her almost painterly approach. So across from the saturated high-gloss library, the dining room walls are a soft blush shade, and the dining chairs a more muted turquoise. In the kitchen, soft chartreuse accents perk up adjacent furnishings and elevate the bold backsplash. Meanwhile, subtle patterns throughout the home echo the palette but never overwhelm it. “It’s important to employ hues in different doses and textures,” explains the designer.

From the wainscotting to the arched doorways to the coffered ceiling, beautiful architectural details make the bold colour choices read as sophisticated. Incorporating antiques alongside the clean-lined contemporary furnishings also imbues elegance, and metallic hits help. “I used warm brass and gold accents in the formal rooms for an Old World feel,” says Erica. “And in the back of the house, which is lighter and more casual, I worked oil-rubbed bronze into the lighting and kitchen hardware.”

The finished home is elegant and unexpected. “Some people would find these colours hard to integrate into a home while keeping it elegant,” she says, “but we are so happy we pulled it off!” It just goes to show that having the confidence to use colour and the daring to mix styles can yield unforgettable results.

Colour takes centre stage in this Washington, D.C., home, as evidenced by the library’s high-gloss turquoise walls. Tempered by neutral clean-lined furnishings and antiques, the look here is more elegant than eclectic. A vintage chest acts as an ersatz bar.

Sliding glass-panelled pocket doors, also finished in turquoise paint, seal off the library from the entryway and dining room as needed. The fresh trellis-patterned wallpaper just beyond the doors softens the turquoise hue, and offers a stunning transition to the dining room.

The homeowners’ mahogany dining table was stained an espresso shade to match the legs of the dining chairs, while the chandelier, a contemporary take on a traditional tiered fixture, ties into the gilt antiques. These elegant Old World touches keep the blush and turquoise colours looking timeless.

The butler’s pantry connects to the all-white kitchen, with its Shaker-style panelled cabinetry and oil-rubbed bronze hardware. Chartreuse lends an unexpected jewel-box-like feel to the small space.

In the large kitchen, a double-height island features a perfect prep station at one end and a breakfast bar at the other. A backsplash of turquoise quatrefoil tiles as well as a custom blue and chartreuse patterned Roman shade link the kitchen to the other rooms in the house.

Dark oil-rubbed bronze cabinetry hardware works with the dark wood frames of the Chippendale-style stools to anchor the space while nodding to the antique furnishings that accent the rest of the home. The antiqued mirror of the bar’s backsplash adds another touch of time-honoured sophistication.

In the eat-in area, botanical-print drapery is trimmed in turquoise to provide an element of the home’s signature colour. Meanwhile, soft chartreuse dining chairs set around a whitewashed pedestal table feel fresh and sunny; their nailhead trim adds a traditional touch to the space.

The family room off the kitchen is connected to the lush green backyard. For balance, the designer used a palette of cream with subtle pops of colour, such as in the chartreuse gourd table lamp and the turquoise toss cushions. The shelves flanking the fireplace are backed in chocolate brown to create definition and let the displayed objects stand out.

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