When Did Color Become a Dirty Word In Interiors?



I received a real note the other day that sparked an idea for a post.


You are one of the few [designers] that still like colors!

My husband loves color and hates (such a strong word) beige, tan and gray.


Fair enough, there are still a lot of interiors that are focused on beige, tan and gray.



But, hun, if I may say so… you’re hangin’ out in the wrong bar with the wrong crowd.

Ya know what I mean?

It’s a bar in a sterile sprawling suburb populated by sheople.

Sheople who watch too many decorating shows about how to decorate your home as blandly as possible.

And it’s not that there’s anything wrong with those colors. They just don’t know how to work with them.


But, here’s the deal.

Color has been here forever and it NEVER LEFT!!!

You need to be hanging with Gloria Vanderbilt and folks like that. Then, you’ll see pleeeeenty of color.



My delightful friend, decorator Brett Leemkuil  has introduced me to some new ways of thinking about design.

And believe me. He is definitely hanging with the right people.

Brett is close friends with Hutton Wilkinson who was the protegee and business partner of the legendary Tony Duquette who was the protegee of the legendary Elsie De Wolf.

Now, the original plan was to show many examples of designers who use color in their interiors and prolifically too.

Fine. Here’s the list off the top of my head.

(okay, not exactly off the top, but close) :]


katie ridder

madcap cottage

parker kennedy living

eddie ross

celerie kemble

alex papachristidis

alexa hampton

miles redd

meg braff

michelle nussbaumer

ruthie sommers

tobi fairley

ashley whittaker

amanda nisbet

jeffrey bilhuber

mary mcdonald

palmer weiss

kelly wearstler

jonathan adler

jana bek


(below are ones I forgot before publishing.)

jamie drake

ben pentreath  – HOW COULD I FORGET BEN???


And I believe that every single one (except for Jana) of these fabulous designers has been in this blog and many of them numerous times.

And each of them and maybe all have been hugely influenced by the aforementioned


Tony Duquette.


And that is what the rest of this post is going to be focused on. Tony is a giant in the interior design industry and deserves his own post. However, tied into Tony is Hutton Wilkinson which we’ll get to in a sec.


Who is Tony Duquette?


(If you don’t already know.)

Well, first of all, he passed away in 1999. He was an amazing creative genius who designed Hollywood film sets, costumes, interiors, sculpted, painted, and created luscious jewelry.

Hutton Wilkinson, his business partner discovered Tony when he was 14 and from that moment on… was hooked. He had found his calling and eventually started working for Tony.

Tony and Hutton in the late 1980’s. Yes, this is the way they dress. At least on this occasion.


After Tony passed, Hutton purchased Duquette’s estate that he now shares with his lovely wife, Ruth. They make their home in a separate more contemporary home, adjacent to the main house.

The main house is known as Dawnridge.

It’s located in Beverly Hills and Hutton loves to show it off! He has maintained it beautifully.

Dang, I was just there last March for the design bloggers conference. So close. Well, another time. Definitely!


Hutton has authored two large books about Tony Duquette’s magnificent interiors


Tony Duquette

More is More


What does that mean? More is More?


Well, Hutton, Tony, Brett and dozens of other designers refer to themselves as maximalists.


Obviously, that’s the opposite of a minimalist.

Tony’s and Hutton’s interiors are definitely in the over-the-top category– for some.

The rooms are opulent and  gem-toned. No gray and beige unless it’s an accent.

In fact, Tony’s favorite and signature gem is malachite.

And lots and lots of it.

And along with that are exquisite fabrics, Chinoiserie and everything exotic and eastern.

There are mirrors on top of mirrors.

Gold for days.

Incredible lighting.

It is all high theatre and a succulent feast for the eyes.

So, let’s take a look-see.

An exterior shot via Veranda


Holly Phillips of the English Room who I’ve had the pleasure to be a blog tour with, was there a few years ago and took numerous photos which I helped myself to a few and cropped them. Please check out her blog here and here for dozens more gorgeous images of this incredibly wonderful estate.


It’s all pretty stunning if you ask me.


And now for some interior shots of Dawnridge


via Lonny


Yes, the ceiling is mirrored. Interesting effect, isn’t it?

Another view of Dawnridge taken by Stacy Kunstel of Dunes and Duchess.


Gucci used Dawnridge for a photo shoot. That’s actor, Tom-Hiddleston-photographed By Glen Luchford


The malachite pillows are from a line that Hutton designed for Jim Thompson silks


via Lonny


 Incredible stairwell in Dawnridge. I think I may have used an other image of this in a post a while back.



The rest of these are Hutton’s interiors.


image: Holly Hollingsworth Phillips

Hutton’s living room.

A vignette from Hutton’s living room. I believe that the wallpaper is from Scalamandre.

Hutton’s opulent living room. Obviously, this is not the first living room. Maybe he has more than one. :]



Malachite rug that Hutton designed for Roubini Rugs


An image of real Malachite I took last year when I was in Italy at Antolini Marble in Verona


This looks familiar!

Here’s what’s funny. I have used this image in a post about Hollywood Regency and credited Tony Duquette, but I believe that this is Hutton’s bedroom.


via– photo: Floto + Warner

A lovely vignette from Brett Leemkuil’s jewel-toned living room in Queens, NY.


image by Stacey Bewkes of Quintessance


A beautiful table from the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show in 2016 that Brett collaborated with Hutton to produce. Brett is a fabulously talented event designer as well as decorator.



Bottom line in regards to the question.

A lot of designers use color in their interiors. Some of the biggest names.



Color isn’t coming back.

It never left.


Hutton gave a wonderful quote about advice that Tony would have liked to pass on in this brief interview.

You can read it here.


Below I had a LOT of fun. Really, way too much and could’ve gone on for about a week, but I have created a grouping of furnishings in the opulent maximalist manner of Tony, Hutton, Brett et al.

Please click on the individual images if you’d like more information about the items. Most are one-of-a-kind.



Hope that you enjoyed this post. Are you a maximalist, a minimalist, or something else?




PS: Please also check out the hot sales page for some fantastic deals this week.


7th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2020 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • HeidiP - July 12, 2017 - 10:20 PM

    Love this post. I LOVE over the top rooms like this, not a whole house tho. I’ve had this vision of my dining room resembling a room in Nawlins, very dramatic and over the top gilded, dark colors, french/Cajun etc. The rest of my house has a neutral base with pops of color. Little by little I’m piecing it together.
    These opulent rooms just scream (old) money. You’ll need staff to manage the upkeep (dusting)!
    Laurel you’re by FAR the BEST design blogger I’ve found, covering the spectrum of classic styles. Your Pinterest buttons and click-thru to buy and “inspired by” selections are priceless. I just read your round dining table post and screamed (silently) bc it’s perfect and I’d already “liked” “saved” about 75% of the tables you featured before you wrote the post. I want to comment there but I don’t see the comment button..?!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 12, 2017 - 10:25 PM

      Hi Heidi,

      First of all, thank you for telling me about the comment box being absent. It’s back now. I think I know what happened. This was a reworking of a very old post and I’ve made it now so that if a post is over 90 days, the comments are closed. I didn’t realize that it would remain closed if republished.

      But, also thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot to me!ReplyCancel

  • Julie S - July 11, 2017 - 11:05 AM

    This was so great to see! My colors! I don’t think I’ve ever seen my color scheme so spot on from a designer before. My home has a base of warm neutrals but quite a lot of leaf green, orange via cognac and bronze, and cobalt blue. Maximalist is not my style – my young family lives in a sturdy boxy SoCal ranch with no architectural distinction, and I’ve decorated in some sort of casual cottage/simplified traditional way. Sometimes those all neutral, streamlined interiors are pretty to look at, especially if they have a small shot of color via a plant or a couple pillows, but I wouldn’t want to live there!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - July 10, 2017 - 2:48 PM

    I don’t who she is hanging out with, but I’ve never met a person who didn’t have a favorite color or who’s favorite color was beige, tan or gray. I also never remember a time when the stores only had the option of beige, tan or gray colored throw pillows. Color is everywhere.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 10, 2017 - 3:44 PM

      Who said that it isn’t? I think that you need to start your own blog Amy.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 10, 2017 - 1:28 PM

    I think I’m a minimal maximalist! I do love color and pattern but I like to use them in a fresh, edited way. That said, so many clients are requesting neutrals and grays – and while I gravitate toward color myself I find that I enjoy working in a neutral palette too and always love the end result. I guess it’s a great way to enjoy the best of both worlds!

    Thanks for posting – you’re always spot on!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 10, 2017 - 3:36 PM

      Hi Kim,

      I like that term! As I’ve said, neutral palette rooms can be exquisite. It’s a combination of the furniture, architecture, subtle tones and accents.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela - July 10, 2017 - 1:25 PM

    While I admire the restraint of a decorator who does a tight pallette I love color and fabric for myself. And maxi as opposed to mini because I like looking at stuff, having it tell a story and I feel minimalists must have to keep a house very very clean or clutter really shows. Im an excellent housekeeper but our lives are just too busy and abundant to pull it off. Ive tried doing neutral rooms in my home but they always drift into color. Frankly, some of the monotone stuff all over Pinterest looks a lot like the movie Water World to me.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Allen - July 10, 2017 - 1:21 PM

    Thank you, Laurel,for talking about color!!! May I put forward another designer whose work is drenched in color…Tricia Guild !! I still have her 1988 book titled “Design And Detail”, a masterpiece! I live at the coast,so beige and white with some blue is the norm,but I love Chinese reds and always will!! Keep the fabulous blogs coming!! LisaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 10, 2017 - 3:33 PM

      Hi Lisa,

      Yes, Tricia Guild! Although I think of her more as a fabric designer than an interior designer. Maybe I’m wrong about that?

      To be clear, I LOVE beige and gray and coastal interiors! Beige and gray ARE also colors, but the problem with many interiors these days is that there is nothing else going on which makes for a cold impersonal room. And the tones aren’t varied enough. The furniture also tends to be super clunky.ReplyCancel

  • Dennis - July 10, 2017 - 1:08 PM

    I love using colors! I’m certainly a more is more type of person. That’s what life is about. The tough part is finding a linen service that will provide the exact colors we need. It’s just too easy to get the traditional beige and tans that you talked about.ReplyCancel

  • Hollie @ Stuck on Hue - July 10, 2017 - 10:32 AM

    I am not a maximalist myself, but I do love color. Suzanne Kasler’s rooms are gorgeous in all their neutral glory, for instance, but I need more color and pattern in my life! Holly Phillips, who you mentioned, is one of my favorite decorators. She’s a little over-the-top but not outrageous, and her designs push me a little bit toward the edges of my comfort zone.

    Thanks for including my malachite pillow in your roundup. I was thinking about it immediately when you mentioned Tony Duquette!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 10, 2017 - 3:27 PM

      Hi Hollie,

      And I was thinking of you as soon as I saw the malachite! Too funny! I also saw some malachite pillows that were like 5 times the price yours are. Yes, they had a contrast trim and came with the insert. Do you do custom details like that? Just wondering. I love your pillows!

      Actually, I just remembered that I’ve been on two blog tours with Holly. She’s super focused and great at doing social media as she goes. Me, no. I can’t walk and talk at the same time. lolReplyCancel

  • Anita - July 9, 2017 - 7:29 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I absolutely learn something from all your posts. This is an interesting one though, because it’s something I think about when I compare the rooms you show to how some people try to interpret them in 8’ceiling tract homes with popcorn ceilings…to say the least, it just doesn’t work. Architecture is everything (as you have stated), and photos like on this post should be taken for pure inspiration (if anything), to only take a grain or two from. I’ve always said I am a “more is more” person, but definitely not to this extent. I love wonderful architecture, high ceilings, neutral walls, and lots and lots of art. That’s the style I will be following in the country house we’re currently reconstructing. Your posts are giving me lots of inspiration along the way.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 10, 2017 - 12:11 AM

      Hi Anita,

      I have learned a lot too! And especially this one. It’s funny, but a couple years ago, I saw Hutton on a TV show showing someone around and waxing poetic about Tony Duquette. The name sounded familiar but he was not someone on my radar.

      And now I feel silly not to have known more ahead of this. But then, how many designers know how to point their DNS records to the correct name server?

      Yes, I had to do this last year and yes, it was very painful. lolReplyCancel

  • Karen - July 9, 2017 - 6:27 PM

    Thank you for another fabulous post! I recently went to our local Parade of Homes and every home looked like the previous! Grey and more gray. Every home was grey. May they be visually frostbite when our dark, dreary, grey winter days come back!ReplyCancel

  • Heather Bates - July 9, 2017 - 4:47 PM

    Oh, Laurel…

    This is your first post that made my heat skip more than a few beats! I am a maximalist at heart. My muses are Jamie Drake, Miles Red, Ken Fulk and Martyn, Darling!

    THOSE SCREENS! The Velvet upholstered room…I almost fainted when I saw that!!!
    Alas, I don’t have the necessary fainting couch.

    In my large mansion project, one of the rooms has Thibaut’s velvet flocked Tiger wallpaper, Pecan wood trim, and we are using Sabina Fay Braxton silk pile velvet Marie-Antoinette gilded Damson for drapes with a wood and gilded trim. The ottoman is Old World Weavers…I could go on and on, but I’ll send you a photo when the room is finished.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 10, 2017 - 12:00 AM

      Hi Heather,

      Ahhh yes. Ken Fulk and MLB! Glad that you enjoyed the post and yes, please send me a photo when the room is finished.ReplyCancel

  • Gaye - July 9, 2017 - 4:07 PM

    After reading the great post, I went to the list of items (I love you are doing this!) and bought those parakeets before I thought twice, Then went to the gilt mirror. My Pay Pal finger so wants it, but my head says, “And what do you do with the one you have in the spot you’d put it?” Every list has a nice range of items and prices. As Miz Stewart used to say, “This is a GOOD thing.”ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 11:56 PM

      haha! Great move on the parakeets. I love those too! As for the mirror, I can’t say. But that paypal button does make it invitingly easy. ReplyCancel

  • Monica - July 9, 2017 - 3:57 PM

    Thanks for this post and the amazing pictures! I am not a minimalist, and love the colors and pattern play in these designs. While I would never have this much going on in my own home, I take inspiration from it. You can be inspired by or appreciate the design esthetic even if you would never take it that far in your own home. I live in upstate NY near the Mackenzie Child’s compound. They have a house on the property with rooms done all in the original patterns. It’s a visual feast and great inspiration. Even though I would never indulge in such a wild mix of colors and patterns, I agree that every house on Pinterest and in some design blogs looks like just another iteration of the same old thing. It’s refreshing to see that some designers are willing to color outside the lines!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 4:03 PM

      Hi Monica,

      The other thing too is that in Tony’s case, the designs were done in decades past. It is possibly that if he was still with us, his style would’ve evolved in some ways; not entirely. But one can definitely see the holiday influence. In the book cover “More is More,” I half expect Cecil B DeMille to shout out ACTION! And in strolls Rita Hayworth… :]ReplyCancel

  • Karen - July 9, 2017 - 12:46 PM

    Every Sunday is Christmas! What a fab post full of inspiration. So far I have a very maximalist living room going on. It’s the most personal spot in my house and I feel a little “freer” in there to cut loose with more over the top colors and layers.

    One issue I’ve had in my color filled interiors is when someone comes
    To the party in a red white and blue plaid shirt and polka dotted pants and RUINS my colorway!!! Do you know how bad party pictures are when the guests outfits wreck the decor vibe! LOL
    You’ve posted that gold bamboo edged chinoiserie mirror a few times now which I am lusting for and will probs pull the trigger on. Love the links, all. So helpful to have your carefully curated guidance!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 1:55 PM

      Hi Karen,

      Yes, I love that mirror. And the one I usually post is very reasonable. I cannot testify to the finish, however if you saw my rub ‘n buff post, any finish can be fixed to look rich and expensive. It’s worth it to save the $$$!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D. - July 9, 2017 - 12:42 PM

    Hi Laurel, and thanks so much for this gorgeous, opulent post. I love all the color. This is merely my opinion, but I am so weary of all the minimalist and mid century modern stuff. I thought it was a trend that would be gone by now, but the young people seem to really like it. To me, it just seems boring. I really love entering a room, house, garden where you have the feeling that whomever has created it, has created a whole other world. There are many interior designers you mentioned that I love, but if I had to pick two, and it would be very difficult, they would be Gregory Hucek, who is so amazingly, creatively talented, that I can’t believe hasn’t received more notoriety, and Carolyn Quartermaine.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 1:50 PM

      Hi Lisa,

      A designer who makes it big, has to go after it. They have to hire the right PR people, make the right contacts. And of course, it helps to be talented. Are all famous designers super talented?

      IMO – the answer is no. There are some I really and truly do not have any idea how they got to where they are. You will not seem them mentioned on my blog– anywhere.

      But there are thousands who are phenomenal talents who nobody has ever heard of. I will definitely check those two out.

      That would be a great post. Interior Designers You Don’t Know About, But ShouldReplyCancel

  • Tricia Heliker - July 9, 2017 - 12:30 PM

    I know I have never been a minimalist and never will be. Although I admire it in magazine photos, It’s not a look I could live with. I’m not a maximalist to the degree in this post, but I love color and layering and I also like gray. I remodeled my kitchen two years ago using lots of gray and stainless. The key that makes that work for me is the layering. My kitchen has two deep window sills, two glass fronted cabinets, an island with a low open shelf, an alcove over the refrigerator, and a shelf that stretches across one wall above two doors and a pantry. These areas are where I created vignettes that personalize my kitchen and warm it up to the temperature that suits me. The rest of the rooms are full of color but there is a thread of gray that links all the rooms. Fortunately we don’t have to be either/or and there are
    98 percentage points left for each of us to find our spot on the spectrum.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 1:44 PM

      Hi Tricia,

      Yes, yes, yes and yes! Everything is on a spectrum. And just so y’all know, I have seen rooms so over-the-top that they make my stomach turn.

      They go under the category of “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” :]ReplyCancel

  • Valerie Abate - July 9, 2017 - 12:03 PM

    Whoa! Although I’m not a minimalist, nor a beige and gray girl, I find this “more is more” style headache inducing. Individually, the pieces are beautiful, but piled on in such heavy coloration is enough to make me run screaming! I guess that puts me somewhere in the middle . . .ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 1:41 PM

      Hi Valerie,

      I think that most of us are somewhere in the middle. Or in the “it’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there” camp.

      But since I never have, I can’t say for sure. I do know that I’m not comfortable in a place that lacks architectural beauty. In fact, forget the rest, just give me a gorgeous room with giant cremone bolted French doors, soaring ceilings and mouldings.

      Think Paris.

      I’m fine. Hell, more than fine! All I need is a mattress, two sheets, a pillow with two cases, a blanket, a mini fridge, a hot plate and a microwave. Uhhhh… not in the main room, though. :]

      Oh, and a fan and air-conditioning. please.ReplyCancel

      • mrsben - July 9, 2017 - 3:22 PM

        I too love, love a space with architectural beauty! As for some of the spaces you featured; I am guessing they do not do their own housework as the dusting alone IMO would be a nightmare.
        ☺ Brenda ☺ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 3:30 PM

          hahahahahaha! You can say that again! Maximal dust– no bueno. :]

  • Jenny - July 9, 2017 - 10:55 AM

    I so agree, and thank you for the wonderful post,

    my interest started with books. So I read a lot of books on decor and design. and magazines..like House Beautiful and Living Etc (and Elle decor and AD..even though I love these less)
    I actually discovered blogs relatively recently..))
    so the color never left. and why would it? we’ll leave before any color out there. lol.
    tans and beiges are also colors so hooray for them too.
    one can really use some or all, depending on his intent, skill, the house, and where it stands
    I love looking at different interiors. So I actively seek them out. Then they’re very easy to find.
    I myself find myself more and more drawn to more and more colors..it’s very liberating actually.
    Even though I really admire restrain and wonderful simplicity or elegance of some less colorful rooms.
    One chooses where one wants to be at the moment.
    My moment now is colorful. I love to feel others’ moments too.
    Wouldn’t it be boring otherwise?

    Of all the designers(I don’t know them all, but maybe most), I really love Celerie Kemble. She’s an extremely thoughtful author too, very poetical,very honest in every word.
    Love Miles Redd..genius..Mary McDonald is really amazing with colors..

    Plenty rooms to look at, plenty of names to learn from. You just need to look in the right place.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 1:36 PM

      Hi Jenny,

      Yes, there are so many fabulous designers out there and there are many, many that should be on the list that inadvertently left off. I didn’t spend a lot of time on that.

      I’m also constantly discovering designers that are new to me. The internet has done a lot for the careers of many who would otherwise be totally obscure.

      Ahem… lolReplyCancel

  • sona - July 9, 2017 - 10:03 AM

    Clearly I dont get it. Perhaps if you know extremely wealthy people, they may live like this but to me it looks gaudy, hot, dusty and uncomfortable. I understand you write/blog to those of a much different taste than mine which is great, so my words are not meant to be taken personal. Just giving my “less than in the know” opinion. But would love to see a regular home, even some of the Mcmansion homes of today decorated in something other than gray and beige, and definitely in the NOT over the top style. Thank youReplyCancel

    • nancy - July 9, 2017 - 7:30 PM

      “gaudy, hot and dusty!!!” That’s so funny and true (to me). I do know rooms are photographed and staged in a way you would not live in them. And these are really gorgeous rooms.
      Personally I like wooden furniture, mostly every thing white, some green plants and blue and white stuff, that’s all. My husband likes color color and more color, thank goodness he’s good at picking colors.
      You did do a post recently about incorporating a lot of beige, it was great.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - July 10, 2017 - 12:13 AM

        Thanks so much Nancy. I see that I actually linked to it at the bottom of the post. Oy! I can’t keep track of all of them any longer. There are well over 400 posts!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 1:26 PM

      Hi Sona,

      Oh, no, I don’t take it personally in the slightest. One reason is that I like so many different things. I’m sure that somewhere here, I’ve done posts about beige and gray done right. Or if I haven’t, I should!

      I don’t think that Hutton’s Red living room is over the top. One wall is open, but you can’t see that. The opposite wall is mostly windows and since there’s a shot taken up high, the fourth wall most have a balcony.

      To me, it feels vibrant and full of life.

      And as I said earlier, a lot of rooms with a lot going on do not translate well in photos. And especially with a mirrored ceiling.

      But you are not “less in the know” either. Don’t ever feel that anyone is dictating anything to you.

      That is actually my main point with this blog. Do what lives within your heart. That is what counts.

      McMansions should be burned to the ground. And to be clear, a McMansion is not the same as a large grand house. The former, in my book is a gross monstrosity-way-overscale-architectural-soul-less-mess that never should’ve been built in the first place.ReplyCancel

  • Dean malambri - July 9, 2017 - 9:33 AM

    Thank god we’re in the last stages of the lack of color aesthetic. I refer to it affectionately as “early German prison chic.” I’ve lately seen mauve and teal being reintroduced and reinterpreted by a few fabric companies!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 12:51 PM

      Hi Dean,

      Oh yes. Poor mauve has gotten such a bad rap. I love it in a scheme with chartreuse. I saw a room oh maybe 15 years ago already. I think that I clipped it out, so it’s probably around here somewhere. It was so cool. The main color was mauve but there were these fabulous chartreuse vases and then the entire room began to sing the sweetest song! I have discovered that pretty much every room loves a shot of chartreuse. It’s the first color of spring! Mom nature knows what she’s doing!

      But teal I have adored for always and ever. It’s the bridge between blue and green!ReplyCancel

      • Jenny - July 9, 2017 - 4:13 PM

        I love mauve
        have it, and chartreuse, and teal, and..
        it looks pretty cool together, very much so

        once I went out of the house..it was right before the sunrise I suppose..and the sky was mauve..exactly my color but obviously so much more beautiful it being sky..
        I’ll never forget it. It was breathtaking.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 11:57 PM

          If it exists in nature, it’s a good color!

  • Betty - July 9, 2017 - 8:49 AM

    Color is a wonderful thing and it is a shame that more folks don’t use it. I believe that people are afraid of bright, vivid colors or the peaceful POW in your face dark colors. I just watched a Love It or List It about a beautiful Victorian row house. There was a window seat nestled in a bay window (huge, tall windows) surrounded with lovely ornate white trim. The small area was painted a shade of black – it was stunning, but the owners looked and said too dark, can’t it be lightened? Even after the entire house was complete, these people said they hated the dark walls. I was thrilled that the wall they wanted torn down to “open” up the rooms was load bearing – thank you Victorian builders. I think that people go with the basic blah colors because it is just easier.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 12:46 PM

      Hi Betty,

      Yes, the “sheople.” Which of course, nobody reading this blog is!!! Sheople don’t read decorating blogs. They’re too busy worrying if something has gluten in it, because they heard that it’s bad for you. Yes, for some it is, but the majority, most likely not. But that is what the mainstream media does to us. And then next year, they will say… oh wait. Strike that. If you don’t get enough gluten, you’ll get cancer. They do stuff like that.

      I guess it all boils down to common sense and really THINKING about what is best for us as individuals, no matter what it is. But, as you said, it is easier to not think about it and take the path of least resistance.ReplyCancel

      • Jenny - July 9, 2017 - 4:31 PM

        I feel that people are afraid depending on what they live..Nobody’s really afraid in New Orleans…somehow..or else I didn’t feel it there..:)
        and if not in this country then nobody’s afraid period. will depend whether it’s Finland or Nicaragua of course..because different surroundings suggest different things..but in general, I find many people here are worried too much about resale(maybe because more mobile in general), and stuff like being “trendy” or “timeless”..and most want to be both lol..there’s too much media as you’ve said..and the general level of it kinda goes down..with everything.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 11:58 PM

          Oh, there are plenty of people afraid of color in New York. But once in a while, some clients make it known that they love color. I’m good, because I like colorful rooms and pale monochromatic rooms too.

  • Alexa - July 9, 2017 - 8:28 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    So glad you addressed this topic. I live in Boston and if I only read the Boston Globe, I’d swear the interior designers around here get fined for using color. Week after week in the magazine section all we see are white and tan boxes with the occasional colorful pillow. It’s mind-numbing! I’m sure there is a lot more exciting work going on, but the average person would be hard pressed to find it.


    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 12:38 PM

      Hi Alexa,

      I have heard this before and I don’t know if it was from you or not, but this horrifies me. BOSTON??? That is so sad since there is so much exquisite old architecture and it’s criminal; Can you imagine if they painted the white house beige? It’s exactly like that. I adore Boston, BTW.

      My sons live there (JP) and so I’ve been on numerous visits and always have a great time! In fact, if my older son was planning on putting down permanent roots, I’d consider moving there. But he’s always talking about moving away.ReplyCancel

      • Alexa - July 9, 2017 - 7:00 PM

        *I know*. There is plenty of creativity and personality here, you just have to know where to look for it.

        JP is wonderful! I lived there for a spell and now we live in the adjacent neighborhood where people go when they can’t afford single family homes in JP. :-). I am going to start squirreling away money now in case you move here. 😉ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - July 10, 2017 - 12:02 AM

          Hi Alexa,

          That’s so sweet. I just spoke to my older son and he’s looking for a new place. It’s room-mates for him, though. He’s a musician. Need I say more? Although, he’s not doing too badly right now. Getting some good gigs.

  • bfish - July 9, 2017 - 8:17 AM

    Laurel, the photo tour of Dawnridge was a fabulous start to my day! What an inspiration — and an affirmation, since I’m a maximalist all the way. More is more, and I can never stick long with minimalism and absolutely NO Fing WAY can I live with beige and gray-dominated interiors. Life is too short . . .

    Thanks, BarbReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 12:32 PM

      Hi Barb,

      Have I been calling you Brenda? Oh my. Please forgive me. I must be thinking of someone else. My aim with this blog, or one of them is to get people to think for themselves. As a designer, I LOVE it when someone has a passion for something. But some are afraid to express themselves. I respect that too. Sometimes it’s a matter of exposure or of taking them way outside their comfort zone and then we can pull it back to a place that they love. But it’s still gone a long way from where they started. And true, most people’s tastes evolve as they grow older. It can go either way. They either become more traditional, but it just as common for folks to become more contemporary/modern.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - July 9, 2017 - 8:09 AM

    This was supposed to be about designers that love color. As opposed to the note you received stating they didn’t.
    But don’t most designers do what the clients request? So if a designer is using beige or grey, isn’t because the clients wants those colors or the feeling those colors give?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 12:27 PM

      Hi Mary,

      Well, very often, my notes have a title that is the opposite of what the post is about. Not all the time, though. I am trying not to be too predictable. :]

      But, you bring up an excellent point. It’s actually lots of points. In all of my years, I discovered that at least 25% of my clients had no idea what they wanted. 25% knew EXACTLY what they wanted and nothing I could say would change their mind. (unless it was clearly a mistake). And the rest were some where in between.

      Some started out thinking they knew what they wanted, but realized as we started working on it, that they discovered something they didn’t know they didn’t know. There is such a glut of the bland and beige out there, that this is what people think IS what they need to do. Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. And they also have a need to “fit in.” A comfort zone. 99.999% don’t want to be the “weird people in the purple house.” (that’s a euphemism, if that’s not clear) But the people in the “purple house”, apparently don’t care that the rest of the neighbors are heaving every time they drive by. lol

      Doesn’t every town have a purple house? But, if those people honestly ADORE that color, then they should embrace it. I just wish they’d do it in private. Not everything we love needs to be on display to the rest of the world. :]ReplyCancel

      • Karen - July 9, 2017 - 12:52 PM

        Could it be that people who hire interior designers are more concerned about social acceptance and therefore ask their designers for the bland, socially safe interiors that prevail on TV?ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 1:58 PM

          Bingo and I meant to include a link to a wonderful quote by Hutton. Here it is.

          I’m going to add it to the post too.

        • Jenny - July 9, 2017 - 4:06 PM

          “Could it be that people who hire interior designers are more concerned about social acceptance”-I’d think it should be other way around? if you have enough money..doesn’t it mean you naturally worry less, because you’re already pretty much fine, socially?
          and the very very top never worries as a rule..to worry is beneath them. whether they have money or not
          sorry if it’s OT..it is an just interesting observation..started me thinking..

        • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 11:54 PM

          Hi Jenny,

          Thinking is good! I think that most people care what other people think about them to some degree or other. But I think that most people don’t think all that much about decor. Some, yes, but most know. So, they just go with what they know and feel comfortable with.

          Some though, have aversions and it’s usually the husband. Like I’ll show them a classic caned back chair and I’ll hear that it looks like his grandmother’s.

          Uhhh…. not when I’m through with it! But, I never argue about stuff like that.

  • Suzi - July 9, 2017 - 8:01 AM

    I think I’m a Middle of the Road, normal person that likes color, just not over the top. There is a happy in between that can be achieved. I hate grey, beige and green. The first 2 bore me, green I have always disliked. Yellow, red and blue are my colors of choice. My family room is Butter (Ben Moore) with a couch covered with a slip cover that I made out of 3 different fabrics – solid red twill – red flower Ralph Lauren linen – red, yellow, blue check on white background. I also have another slipcover on a wing-chair (same fabrics) and a solid red chair for me. My area rug has a goldenish background with red and blue flowers. I bought a blue/white lamp (like you talk about) that is very similar to a vase in a hand embroidery that I did, hanging on the wall by it. This room isn’t crazy color, just enough to make me smile. Maximalist gives me a headache, minimalist makes me sleepy.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 12:16 PM

      Hi Suzi,

      Something I was thinking but didn’t say in the post is that I am positive that in person, these rooms read far differently than they do in photos. Something I’ve come to realize now that I’ve taken a zillion photos is that the camera takes in far, far more than are eyes are capable of seeing in one gulp. And we have other visual cues that the camera doesn’t see.

      Still, I understand that this is not for everyone. I don’t know without being there, for sure, but if someone did it for me, I could probably be very happy in a home like Tony created. But Tony would not create a home like his for me. I am sure that he “read” all of his clients and tailored something special and unique that was fitting of their personality and lifestyle. And I know that Hutton shares that philosophy too.

      But I have always said that I could live in an all white house. I bet that Tony and Hutton could do white and it would be the most glorious thing ever.

      Green is another color that if it’s not done right is hideous but if done right, is amazing! However, as one can probably see if they’ve been reading my blog for a while, I’m having a passionate love affair with blue. Every shade. I never thought I would say that. And yes, it’s become trendy. And yes I’ve been influenced by that trend.

      Trends are fine if one TRULY LOVES them. Then, it’s not a trend; it’s a new love. I am very faithful to my loves.

      that is why the “need to know the newest trends” makes me nuts.

      That is just something the furniture manufacturers have concocted to make us think that we need to throw everything out every few years and start over. After all, they are in the business of selling furniture and it’s difficult to sell something that somebody already has.ReplyCancel

  • Linda - July 9, 2017 - 7:43 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    Love this post so much! I get so much inspiration from Tony and a lot of the other designers you mentioned. Tracy Porter is pretty fabulous too. She actually introduced me to Tony Duquette’s style in one of her blog videos a dozen years ago.
    Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 12:04 PM

      Hi Linda,

      I am not familiar with Tracy Porter. I will definitely look her up! Glad that you enjoyed the post!ReplyCancel

  • Brett - July 9, 2017 - 7:33 AM

    What a FABULOUS blog entry Laurel! Thank you so much for the shout out!!!
    After reading this, I hope everybody embraces their inner MAXIMALIST and uses color with abandon! As Hutton likes to say, “A little too much is just enough for me.”. And yes, maximalism is a growing force that is truly being recognized and somewhat trending at the moment. However, it has always been here and will continue to influence design and designers as it always has.
    Once again, many thanks for being included in this weeks blog!

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 12:03 PM

      Thank you so much Brett. I kept wanting to ask you to fact check for me, but then I’d ruin the surprise. So, if something isn’t correct, please let me know and I’ll change it.

      Thank God maximalism is trending down, at least somewhat. I just shudder to see what HGTV would do. They would come up with some formulaic version which is not what it’s about. But if they could at least embrace making our homes personal havens and understand that in order to sell a home, one doesn’t need to paint everything beige and gray.ReplyCancel

  • Michele - July 9, 2017 - 5:36 AM

    Good morning from Norway, Laurel! Thank you for the post! Of course there are designers working with colours – however, it’s not often you hear about them here. Think I said it before: most interior design magazines here look like they could have been printed in black and white, so scandinavian-minimalist are they.

    Obviously I am not a minimalist… however, looking at the pictures in todays post, I have to admit that they are inspiring but I don’t think I could live in them! A bit too much going on. So, what does that make me? A mediumalist??

    What do you call people who like ‘everything’ in interior design? I like the scandi style for the restfulness and calm, which my spirit needs. I like the interiors you present for their colours, warmth and links to the past. I like mid-century modern, since it reminds me of my youth. I like industrial style and even madcap steampunk. I like colour, comfort and ease of maintenance.

    And, of course, like many people, I feel like I am an individualist not influenced by current trends – although I most likely am!

    Probably most of all I want my house to be like me… a representation to the outside world of myself, what I stand for. And a safe haven for our family and others.

    Maybe this is why I am hesitant in involving an interior designer? (Apart from the financial aspect.) The feeling that no designer ever will ‘get’ the workings of my brain and my quirky taste?

    Have a great Sunday!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 11:52 AM

      Hi Michele,

      I love your comment dearly because I think that you speak so articulately what lives in the heart of most of us.

      I too, am one who likes almost everything– as long as it’s well-done for what it is.

      That means balance, proportion, style and execution. Oh, and a little quirk. I think that every room benefits from something not expected.

      And make no mistake. I LOVE WHITE! I love, love, love, pale tone on tone. I adore Gustavian Swedish style and all of the true European country styles. I say true, because around here, what we call French Country is usually not even close. Ahhh… that’s another post!ReplyCancel

  • joa - July 9, 2017 - 4:38 AM

    Scrumptious Post, Laurel ! Love the emerald & sapphire together at the table – I’d much rather dine with them than wear them on my finger, & orange for dessert !ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 11:43 AM

      Me too Joa! But anyone who knows me pretty well, will notice a paucity of jewelry on me, most of the time. ReplyCancel

  • Gaye - July 9, 2017 - 2:14 AM


    This weekend friends and I were talking about the antiques market and the declining interest in traditional interiors and architecture among our children’s generation. And about how here in Louisiana surrounded by greenery, so many beiged out of thinking about design and creating a personal home. I said, “I couldn’t live without a green sofa. Or green in living and dining rooms.” Well, along comes Laurel’s weekly blog! Maybe you can consider a post about how to combine traditional furnishings with the “the look” one sees too often today in magazines and new homes? Then we an forward it to our children. As usual, fine post, Laurel.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 11:41 AM

      Hi Gaye,

      There are some designers who are doing that. If you get the little note to subscribers that I sent out, the young designer Jana Bek is one who’s doing that beautifully.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Ellis - July 9, 2017 - 2:10 AM

    Laurel… Jamie Drake!! No one does color like he does. Really, for present day, he’s first on the list when it comes to color. Just for fun, I did a quick Google image search under his name to see what images would come up. A glorious rainbow of color, masterfully mixed in ways most interior designers would never dare venture. Gorgeous, glorious color.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2017 - 2:12 AM

      Hi Lisa,

      Ahhh yes, he’s another one. I met him once. Nice guy. ReplyCancel