Colorful home design can be very polarizing (especially bright color). You have those who want ALL the color and those who are wary of even dipping their toe in the color pond. But we think there’s a place in the middle so that everyone can be happy (especially those who live in the same home). Enter the very talented interior designer, Sarah Zachary. When she took on this beautiful family home, she actually wasn’t the first to tackle its design. Nope, after working with a previous interior designer who went fairly glam, the family decided that they wanted to bring in a more earthy feel (while still keeping it happy and colorful). So Sarah went to work, and I got to ask her about the project and get all of her color tips.
Was color something that your client wanted or did you talk them into it?
I definitely did not have to talk my client into color, especially in the her daughters’ rooms. She has a soft spot for neon pink and butterflies and wanted the kids’ spaces to be as fun and whimsical as possible. I actually took over the job from a previous designer and worked to dial back the color and pattern in some of the rooms.
I think Sarah nailed it. Both girls’ rooms, as you are about to see, are colorful and whimsical but not so overwhelming that you feel like you don’t know where to look. Balance is always the goal. It’s so important to have “moments” where your eyes can rest.
For instance in the nursery, the wallpaper is super bold but all of the furniture, window treatments, and rug are all very neutral with almost no pattern. Sarah chose very specifically where she put her bright pops of color which makes the room feel super balanced.
What was the reason you wallpapered all four walls in the nursery and not in the other child’s bedroom? Did it have to do with scale and do you have a rule of thumb for that? Basically when to accent and when to go all the way : )
We fell in love with the Christopher Farr wallpaper we selected for the nursery so the client and I were happy to see it cover every surface in that space. I personally prefer to have wallpaper on all the walls as opposed to an accent wall. It just feels more complete. I usually only do an accent wall if 1.) the wallpaper is crazy expensive but we love it anyway, 2.) the wallpaper is a mural rather than a pattern, or 3. the pattern is super busy and will overwhelm a space.
I agree and also am in love with that wallpaper. The mix of boho and modern glam makes this room feel textured, and lux (but still fun and a perfect for a little munchkin).
Wallpaper | Bookcase | Oprah Winfrey Children’s Book | DIY Letter Lightbox | Eyelash Basket | Dresser (no longer available) | Table Lamp | Shelf Brackets | Changing Baskets | Pouf Designed and custom made by Sarah Zachary, Fabric by Pierre Frey
I saw in a different project of yours (coming soon to a blog near you) that you’re not afraid to wallpaper a ceiling. Do you have a rule of thumb on when to go for a wallpaper ceiling or when to keep it bare?
This particular moment was actually a choice made by the client! She loves a space with warmth and a vintage/cottage feel and I think the wallpaper on the ceiling creates that. If a pattern is subtle and small enough to not be overwhelming in the space, and you’re able to keep the furniture and finishes of the room more minimal, then wallpapering the ceiling as well as the wall can work. Doing that in this nursery would likely have overwhelmed the space.
We agree that delicate pattern work best if you want to cover all five walls. And if you are wanting to tackle your ceiling, this post has a ton of inspiration. Also, here is the list of our favorite online wallpaper resources if you are needing some sourcing guidance.
Now, are you ready for another SUPER cute kids room??
What are your tips for going bold with color and wallpaper?
If you are choosing a bold wallpaper or color you have to consider balance. We chose some very graphic and colorful wallpapers in this house and balanced them out with minimalist designs, natural woods, and clean white accents. Before I met the client, the older daughter’s room already had the wallpaper on one wall and the rest of the walls were painted turquoise. They also had blue striped curtains. There was a lot happening in there so we kept the wallpaper (on one wall, as an accent because the pattern worked well as mural), painted the other walls white, and left only the white roman shades. That way the wallpaper could really be appreciated on its own. This opened the door for a colorful canopy and some fun art.
Such a good move. Having too many big moments will make everything a small moment.
So now we need to know your shopping secrets. Where do you like to source your wallpaper from?
I love Walnut Wallpaper and usually order from them exclusively. They have everything that designers source at the PDC as well as really unique and artisanal wallpaper brands. They are also super helpful in finding that very specific pattern you are hunting for.
Do you have any advice for people who are nervous about a bold wallpaper?
I say start your bold wallpaper journey in a small and low stakes space like a bathroom or laundry room. This way you can dip your toes into something bold. If you still love the look after a while, upgrade to a larger room and remember to balance out the furnishings with neutral or natural colors.
Here is a post that Emily wrote about the true benefits of taking the plunge (if you are ready).
Ok, so it makes sense that colorful wallpaper works in a little kid’s room but here’s how Sarah brought some bright colors into the more “adult” part of the house.
Was wallpaper ever an idea for any of the common areas?
We considered doing wallpaper in the entry initially but decided to keep the neutral palette. Toys, shoes, and strollers live in the entry so we wanted to keep the space as uncluttered and clean as possible. Wallpaper would have just added to the hustle and bustle of the entry.
As Sarah implied, wallpaper and color can overwhelm a busy area. So keep in mind how your space is going to be used before putting up really bold and busy wallpaper.
What was the color conversation for the common areas? Since they are a family with two little kids, was the color brought in to bring in some sophisticated youthfulness (ha, that sounds like an oxymoron), or did the parents also want some bright colors – use very intentionally?
When I started on the project, a lot of the choices from the last designer were very glam. We wanted to create a more earthy and eclectic feel, while still being clean and modern. Since the living room/dining room already had the green banquette, I presented a very neutral palette that we could build off of. My client’s background is in art, so I knew that was where the color would come in as well as with pillows and accessories.
The big takeaway here is that even dabbling in some color can have a massive impact on a space. I love that, while I’m a sucker for a neutral, earthy room, bringing in that colorful art makes it feel really unique and personal. I think even the most neutral loving among us can agree, no?
Before we get into that truly beautiful dining area, a super easy but cool way to add color into your home is books. It’s so simple but I think can be an afterthought in the design process. So if you want to look super smart and colorful, just make sure some of your books have colorful spines.
Also, side note for those of you wanting to know how to style a bookshelf when you have A LOT of books, this room is a great example. From the looks of it, the bottom two rows are filled up, then moving up they staggered the other “full shelves.” Then for the other sections, Sarah played with different and simple configurations of books, objects and picture frames but kept it simple. Also, note that the top row is lightly styled (mainly with art) to make the ceiling feel visually light and taller.
Ok back to the interview . . . .
The dining bench is almost too beautiful! I am assuming it was custom? Also, I know that green is simply just a beautiful color to use, but how did you all decide on it for the bench?
The bench was custom and was actually inherited from the first designer. We worked everything in this space around the green banquette. When I first started the project there was a huge replica Saarinen Tulip Table that was too big and too cold for the space. We wanted the room to have more warmth, so I designed a custom walnut table that my dad built for my clients. Now the clients have a handmade heirloom as opposed to a replica.
Oh, I love the story behind the table! And I agree that for warmth and texture a dark wood table was the way to go. It feels approachable but sophisticated. Then to add in some color and playfulness Sarah added some pillows and those happy, bright pieces of art by one of our Sara’s favorite artists, Anna Ullman.
There you have it. A stunning home with the perfect amount of color to add some joy, but not take over. Thank you to Sarah for answering my questions and letting us share your beautiful work on the blog.
So, if you are classically a neutral lover, are you tempted to bring some color into your home? Or if you love color what was your favorite part of this home? Let’s talk about it!
Love you, mean it.
Credits: Design by Sarah Zachary, Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp