Archives for September 2012

Love Your (Color) Neighbors

“All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.”     Marc Chagall

Recently I wrote about analogous color schemes in home design. This would be the “friends of their neighbors” scenario- remember, analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel. Here’s the color wheel again, to see what we’re talking about here.

Color Wheel

Today we’re going to look at the “lovers of their opposites” situation, otherwise known as a complementary color scheme. Pairs of colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are said to be complements: yellow/violet, blue-green/red-orange, red/green, etc. Complements provide a lot of contrast, and using them is one of the easiest ways to add drama and verve to a room.

complementary colors, decorating, decor, design

 The blue pillow on the orange settee in this hallway provides that spark of contrast that makes the whole scene “pop,” as designers like to say. Note the more muted blue and orange motif in the wallpaper and also in the rug. The use of the same colors carried throughout the area creates a unified feel to the entire entry hall.

The brighter and purer (i.e., without any added white, gray or black) the colors, the more intense the contrast and the drama. The use of unadulterated pure complementary colors can be jarring, resulting in a childlike or cartoonish feel. Shades (color plus black) or tints (color plus white) of the pure colors make for a more subdued and sophisticated, yet still dramatic, scheme. The red and green child’s bedroom below illustrates this well: in their pure forms, red and green scream “Christmas,” whereas in this case the pastel green tones the whole thing down.

So in the room below, the opposites are violet and yellow, both muted. Red is used as an accent color.


The bedroom below is a variation on orange and blue; the blue is more of a teal and the orange is more brown, but the feeling of complements is still there. Your eye goes right to those blue pillows, as they provide such a contrast to the cream and brown of the rest of the room.


How about these? Below, some examples of complements that are quite vivid.









 These rooms are vibrant and exciting – maybe too much so? Do you like this much color and drama in a room?

If you’d like help deciding on what colors are right for your home, contact me, I would love to help.

Zig-zagging along

What we used to call a zig-zag pattern, the design world calls a chevron. In fashion design, maybe a houndstooth print. Whatever we call it, it’s all over the place:

chevron pillow cover

Simple yet interesting, bold and timeless, this is a pattern at home in many settings.

chevron chair fabric traditional

Melissa McLay Interiors


wall design fireplace chevron

The chevron motif itself can be found throughout the ages all over the world, and its classic appeal lends itself easily to quirky, contemporary applications.

chevron fan blades


Is there a place in your home that could use a little pizzazz? Something in this motif might do just the trick.


If you’d like help making your house more of a home, contact me about our design services.

Kitchen Sink Garden Vignette

I took this picture at my mom’s house over the Labor Day weekend. Her kitchen sink is in a corner. Previously she had propped a pretty plate up behind the sink, but now it looks like this:

home kitchen design room interiors

This is the perfect thing to put behind the sink – the violets like the moisture in the air, the statue hides the seam in the corner, and the whole vignette fills the space perfectly and softens an awkward area. Great decorating idea, Mom!