Bright and Cheery Rooms Inspired by Fall Colors
The bright pigments of this time of year may be on their way out, but indoors the vibrant shades of autumn can live all year long
This moss green dining room takes its color cue from the late 19th century color revolution that did away with gloomy Victorian interiors (which were themselves a contrast to bright Georgian colors). The hue has a purer, or more natural, feel, in contrast to the deliberately darkened synthetic colors of the earlier fashion.
The pale green on this modern-day bungalow's walls was accomplished with colored stucco, creating the perfect light backdrop to set off the mahogany beams, mantel, and other details in the room.
Cool colors—from the violet/blue/green end of the color spectrum— create a sense of calm, making them perfect for a bedroom or bathroom. Here, rich dark wood and white accessories contrast well with the French blue wall color, highlighting its cool tones.
A traditional hunter green, set off by stark white columns and a rich dark-wood headboard, gives this bedroom a royal air.
Vibrant red sets an active tone, and when used in an office it can help keep the mind alert and productive.
Colors from the warm end of the spectrum—particularly reds and yellows—saturate this restored kitchen in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Hartford, Connecticut, house. The 19th-century author of Uncle Tom's Cabin also wrote extensively about household management, and the welcoming effect of this room's warm tones supports her (then revolutionary) mission of turning the kitchen into a cheery place where mothers could pass along their skills to their daughters.
Green walls and ceilings, red seat cushions, yellow-glowing sconces, and orange tinted wood reference the typical muted colors of the Arts and Crafts palette, a style that lets this formal dining room feel like an informal gathering place.
Color isn't always about paint, as this Hatfield, Massachusetts, library demonstrates. The warm reddish-orange tones of the cherry bookcases, beams, and flooring envelope the room, making a large space feel cozy and intimate.
Olive-brown walls and a chunky wood mantel lend this room a somber feel that is belied by the bright curtains and bedspread.
Painting the spaces between the white ceiling joists in the same yellow orange as the walls makes the low structural members disappear and the ceiling seem higher. The wall color also picks up the warm undertones in the cherry dining set, creating a jovial space for family gatherings.
Red, a warm color, stimulates the senses. So it does well in rooms meant for entertaining, such as living rooms, dining rooms, and entry halls—like this one in a Pennsylvania farmhouse.
Rich green walls in a dining room coordinate well with a periwinkle blue kitchen, visible through the doorway. It's often necessary to consider how two colors in adjacent rooms will look next to each other, whenever both can be seen at once from a single vantage point.
Paint effects on a yellow wall set against natural oak trim and a bright red ceiling complement the Art Deco features in this room—from the art-glass chandelier to the inlaid corner bar and the giant leather ottoman.
Blue-stained shelves and mantel show off some of the period-appropriate colors used to take this 200-year-old house in upstate New York back to its Georgian-style roots.
Greens muddied by gray tones and deep mahogany red are appropriate colors for the Shaker cabinetry in this kitchen. Nineteenth-century Shakers worked only with very basic, rustic primary colors that harkened back to the simple hues of the Colonial era. Bright red and yellow were used quite sparingly, with the darker tones accenting architectural details.
Pumpkin-orange walls enhance the rich brown tones of a walnut staircase and its painted treads.
Reddish brown walls provide a visual link from a dining room to the front door. Dark walls won't weigh heavily on a room if they are kept to one wall or set off by light wainscoting.
A green-tiled backsplash and green counters bring out the red tones of the cherry cabinets. Contrasting colors—coming from opposite sides of the color wheel—in similar tones will coordinate rather than clash, making features stand out.
A bright orange-painted door from Mexico brings a welcoming and whimsical touch to a somber rustic mining cabin in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Red paint makes an otherwise small and unassuming staircase the center of attention.
Yellow in a bathroom not only sets a cheerful tone for morning preparations, but its warmth casts a flattering glow onto skin tones observed in the mirror.
Interiors from the Georgian through the Greek Revival period in American architecture (late-18th century to mid-19th century) didn't shy away from bright colors, like the turquoise in this Greek Revival drawing room. The colors set off the (often) painted classical details used throughout the rooms.
Red has the unusual effect of intensifying a sensual experience—hence the success of the red bordelo. In a dining room, while it won't necessarily make food taste better, it will make it taste more.
Bold lemon yellow makes this home office feel like a ball of sunshine—enlivening the atmosphere day and night.