Falmouth decorator Penelope Daborn shows how to use a fashionable color with a split personality.
Growing up in Kenya, India, and England, decorator Penelope Daborn developed an awareness of the way various colors read and interplay that has become second nature. The rich, earthy shades of East Africa and vibrant jewel tones of South Asia periodically show up in her clients’ homes, often tempered with the softer hues favored here and in many European cultures. One such muted color — mid-tone gray-blue — is also a strong spring trend, appearing in the 2017 palettes of paint companies such as Behr, Benjamin Moore, and Sherwin Williams, and the latest fabric lines from manufacturers like Osborne & Little, Romo, and Schumacher. Balance it with pops of yellow or orange for bold contrast and warmth, or let it star in a serene, monochromatic scheme, as Daborn has done here. In the first of a four-part series on seasonal color, she demonstrates how slate can be used to create a pair of distinctive looks that are both on trend and timeless.
Camel and cream tones take the chill off Sherwin Williams’ Stardew wall color and cause it to telegraph more neutral-gray than blue, says Daborn. Patterned pillows and drapes and plenty of texture — marble and grasscloth surfaces, a tactile silk-and-wool rug — enliven the quiet scene and lend a casual-cozy feeling. Incorporate layered lighting (sconces, table and floor lamps) to keep slate from feeling shadowy and opt for paint in a flat or eggshell sheen when possible, as shinier grays can look industrial.
Matched with stark black, white, and espresso shades, slate skews more blue, says Daborn, who used it as an accent color, versus a pervasive neutral, in this modern scheme. Juxtaposed with pale fog paint, a striped feature wall and leopard-print curtains (or shades) fairly leap forward, while clean-lined, curvaceous furnishings play up the sophistication.