Block Party: Decorating With Color Blocking

November 13, 2013

Block Party: Decorating With Color Blocking

I’ve never been much for math–I counted down the days until I could toss out my scientific calculator–but there’s something so appealing about color blocking. All clean, distinct bursts of color, it’s a pick-me-up that can instantly make a space feel fresh and modern (even though the trend itself first showed up ages ago).

Despite its name, color blocking is perfect for those of us who aren’t sure how to break out of our beige comfort zone. For the most part, you are working with solids, so there’s no tricky will-it-or-won’t-it-match pattern play. Scale is less important, too–you don’t have to, say, color block an entire wall to make an impact: A few well-placed throw pillows or accent pieces can add a fair amount of sizzle. You don’t even have to stick with block-shaped things–circles, triangles, or any organic shape you love is just as good.

The trick to a successful block, however, hinges on the colors. For starters, narrow down your palette to two or three shades–any more and your room runs the risk of looking busier than the Technicolor dreamcoat. Next, choose hues that pair well together–a no-fail option is to combine two that are close on the color wheel, like eggplant and turquoise, with one that’s on the opposite end, like mustard yellow. (Need a refresher on the color wheel? Check out blogger Nick Robinson’s excellent explanation on how to use it for color blocking.)

Once your palette is set, consider what and where you want to color block–here are some creative ideas to get you started.

  • Deck the walls. Divide a wall into a section or two and paint each a different color–painter’s tape will help you get clean-edged borders. For something more temporary, use color-block wall decal.
  • Paint the furniture. To get the most bang for your buck, add colors to unexpected spots, like the sides of dresser drawers or the insides of a bookshelf.
  • Area rug. Throw a color-blocked rug on the floor and–presto–instant impact.
  • Curtains. Color-blocked panels, like this neutral shower curtain, add a pop of visual excitement to a room with next-to-no effort on your part.
  • Accent pieces. Bolster pillows, vases, picture frames, blankets, paperweights (like this one from kate spade) — smaller accents do a beautiful job of carrying a color throughout a room and are a perfect place to ease into this trend.
  • Books. Make your Twilight and Harry Potter obsession work for you. Just cover books — any books–with a few different shades of solid wrapping paper, then organize by color.

Bonnie Gibbs-Vengrow

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