Under the Influence: Deborah Needleman’s Color Palette

White walls have never been anything more to me than a metaphor for boredom and lack of creativity. White walls are what people live with in bad apartment complexes and freshman dorms. So when we started to come up with ideas for our house, color dominated. While selecting paint for the living room, I dismissed swatch after swatch as “too close to white.” And I paid for that by ending up with a paint color that wasn’t really what the room needed.

After the “yuck” moment of a paint color which wasn’t white, but wasn’t right, I took a breath and picked up one of my favorite decorating bibles, Domino: The Book of Decorating. Ironically, I had always glossed right over editor Deborah Needleman’s apartment in the book, but this time I paid more attention. With help from décor master and silver fox Tom Delevan, she incorporated a muted off-white palette in her place, and to gorgeous effect.
What I had always overlooked for being monotonous suddenly came through to me as sophisticated and tonally complicated. The green and slate tones could be lost against a more colorful wall, but instead become focal points. I particularly liked Deborah’s use of the word “mousy” not as a pejorative, but as a loving description of the pretty grey, fur-like velvet.
Here is some of Deborah’s inspiration (that’s a shot of Tom’s living room to the side – love those ceiling-to-floor curtains!) for the room:
I had Deborah’s home in mind when I went back for the second shade of paint, and ended up with a soft (mousy, if you will) shade of warm grey. Even without the room completely decorated yet, I can tell that the strength of this color will not be that it overwhelms the room with vibrant tone, but that it acts as a subtle background that allows color stories to unfold through other elements in the room.

How do you skew when it comes to color? Do you think a room isn’t decorated until bright hues have covered every surface, or do you prefer the pale look of whites and pastels – or maybe something in between?

2 Responses to Under the Influence: Deborah Needleman’s Color Palette

  1. Ooh, I love this interior. So fresh and cozy all at once. Beautiful!

  2. Alexis says:

    I miss Domino so much.

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