Article Line Long1

Caitlin NEEDS To Externally Process Her Feelings About Chartreuse (Is It A New Neutral?)

There’s this quote from The Office that’s been rattling around a bit in the back of my brain for a few weeks now. Michael’s mocking Jim (sorry for the 13-year-old spoiler, folks) and offers up this little nugget: “I can see it in your crusty little eyes that you are going to make everything perfect. If I can just think this through, if I could just think it exactly right, I can make this perfect.”

Because honestly, that’s kinda sorta what I’ve been on the hunt for recently – a perfect design process. A checklist so I can avoid mistakes. I’ve joked about it a bit on Zooms with the team – “please write down every thought you had while you were designing and installing” is my go-to line, but I’m not really joking. 11 days ago, I presented you with a dilemma: I’d procured my dream dresser but was struggling with finding a real jumping-off point. I presented three beds to the crowd, offered three possible corresponding color schemes, and we were off to the races. Then, TWO OF YOU BLEW MY MIND.

Cognac Bed

“I have a brass canopy bed. Chartreuse walls look beautiful with it,” said Patricia. “You could add lilac/mauve/violet/chartreuse/cerulean/cognac/yellow curtains, accessories or wall color, bedding or rugs,” said Mouseface (and while I wish I had created this highly-descriptive portmanteau, the credit belongs to the commenter in question). Chartreuse, huh? I started poking around the internet and landed on one image in particular that really made my heart skip a beat…

design by luke edward hall | via stitched

Here’s the thing: this isn’t my first chartreuse rodeo. (Click through at your own risk to see a photo of my childhood bedroom. You’ve been warned.) And while my style has changed a bit since that original introduction post – more deco, less postmodern – my love of color hasn’t really shifted.

So when I stumbled upon this shot from Luke Edward Hall’s home, I knew I wanted to make a cognac bed work with chartreuse walls and other pops of bright, saturated color. Is it going to be a lot for a bedroom? Sure. Is it possible to create a space that’s more jarring than the neon nightmare cave I created in 2004? NO. It’s all up from here, baby!!!

To that end, I started looking for more and more inspiration – you know, how to do chartreuse the right way, so you don’t feel like you’re living inside a container of sherbet – and realized that it’s a lot more flexible than I ever imagined (when chosen by adults with actual brains and thought processes beyond “NEON,” at least). Can I show you a few of my favorites? I pulled inspiration from all kinds of styles, so I can be extra sure that I’m thinking EXACTLY RIGHT. Let’s kick it off with a total stunner, yeah?

design by pierre letan | photo by shade degges | via bibliostyle

OKAY. Try this scenario on for size: I show up at your house, unannounced. “I am going to redesign your living room,” I declare. “Everything will be some variation of cherry red, navy blue, lime green, or wood.” (Wow, what a presumptuous and arrogant move from hypothetical Caitlin! So audacious! Did I even say “hello” first? Where are my manners???)

You know what you – a normal and/or rational person who has probably seen a color wheel once or twice – would say in response? It’d probably be a little something like this: “Are you insane? What are you talking about?” Or maybe even a, “NOT TODAY, HILDI. Hard pass. Please leave.” (The latter option is for those who consumed a lot of Trading Spaces in the early aughts. I would fall into this bucket, I think.)

BUT WAIT. Against all odds, the aforementioned hypothetical, manner-less, weirdly-imposing Caitlin is actually on to something here (palette-wise, at least). Peek at the above space – this bold chartreuse is elevating the room way more than a soft, cool gray or clean, bright white EVER could.

Chartreuse: 1. Other Neutrals: 0.

design by paloma contreras

It’s not just paint, though. Chartreuse can add something a little fresh, unexpected, and modern to a space. Are these four chairs super loud or out-there? Not really. But does this bright, happy velvet add WAY more personality and joy than a similar piece upholstered in camel leather or jade green velvet? HECK YEAH.

Bringing this not-quite-neon, not-quite-pea-soup shade into your decor is such an easy way to add a little edge without feeling like you’re living inside an avocado, you know? (If you are interested in feeling like you’re living inside an avocado, stay tuned. I have inspiration for you, too.)

BIG SWOON. I’ve always been a fan of this color palette – some aqua, some coral, some hits of chartreuse. (Now that I’m thinking about it, this is kind of the tropical version of the earlier “cherry red, navy blue, lime green.” There’s something here, guys. Stick with me!!!) A traditional pearly-toned zellige fireplace tile would have fallen SO flat on the left; the trim on the right ups the “weird” quotient just enough to make things super cohesive on the right. MASTERFUL.

design by brad walsh | photo by alec hemer | via elle decor

I know this technically leans a little more green than the rest of my examples, but I just had to tell you three things:

  1. This reminds me SO much of Erik’s home, where paint makes all the difference. (Scroll to the bottom for an incredible side-by-side of Erik’s in white and in chartreuse – it’s what I’d present as my closing argument if I was a lawyer and not a woman screaming about colors on the internet.)
  3. I dream of mixing and matching like this. A Bergere chair, rattan table, regency demilune console, AND pop art? Inspired.

When in doubt, go tonal. I love how much the chartreuse warms up these spaces (like, check out that atrium in the back of the photo on the left – this front sitting room is so much warmer!).

I also cannot believe how AWESOME those stainless steel cabinets look in the kitchen on the right. A more traditional subway tile in white would have left this space feeling like a hospital (read: morgue), but these brightly-colored walls bring such a great balance – do you agree???

design by todd alexander | photo by william abranowicz | via elle decor

When I really distill it, I think my favorite thing about this shade is that it allows for a lot of experimentation – it’s so bold that every choice in your space will, in turn, feel a bit more thoughtful and considered and ~designed~. Would this art configuration and dining nook look fine against a beige wall? Probably! But does the whole space really sing against a neon background? YES.

Same chairs, same color palette, VERY different vibe. We’re having a dinner party in the room on the left. We’re having a very productive team brainstorm in the room on the right. Which one is your favorite?? (I think I’m leaning towards the Miles Redd-designed room on the left – I’m a huge sucker for a good chinoiserie credenza – but man, that fireplace surround on the right is DREAMY.)

design by jean-philippe demeyer| photo by kasia gatkowska | via vogue australia

Confession: This is another shot where we’re leaning a little more green than chartreuse, but check out how much depth this lone wall brings to the space. I don’t think most people stumble upon luxe, warm portraits of mastiffs and think, “oh my gosh, GOTTA HANG THIS THIS SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF MY LIME GREEN WALL,” but like…maybe they should start thinking that way, you know?

These two lean a little muddier – more split-pea than neon – which makes them great candidates for layering in warmer reds and oranges.

And pals, it’s pretty unbelievable how color elevates each of these rooms. The space on the left could have read as clean, simple, and preppy – now it’s statement-making and design-forward without looking like it’s trying too hard. And the room on the right? It’s a pattern lover’s dream set against an incredible, flexible backdrop that’ll stand the test of time even as the homeowner’s decor changes. (Em’s classic wisdom that “pretty looks good next to pretty” holds up here. Also…that super high art placement above that shelving unit with just a hint of overlap? So, so, so good.)

design by brockschmidt and coleman | photo by jean allsopp | via better home and gardens

Last year, I wrote a dissertation about my obsession with antiques. This photo was included. I’m making you look at it again because it’s an all-time favorite of mine. The old! The new! The mix! SUBLIME. The wallpaper is a perfect backdrop, right? EVERYTHING GOES. (PS. If anyone ever sees a marquetry cabinet like this in LA that won’t cost several months’ rent…well, send up a bat signal for me, please.)

Oh, hey, fans of classic design! I think my original biggest misconception about chartreuse was that it was only for use in modern spaces – discovering it in such formal, traditional rooms has been pretty liberating.

Here, the wall color really lets some of the tinier details shine – the window treatments and skirted table on the left would have been lost in a sea of tan or cream; there’s such a dynamic and fun balance in the room on the right. I guess it’s nice to know that vintage and antique things can still feel new and fresh when presented in a fun way, you know?

photo by jess isaac for ehd and monica wang | from a floral glam nursery reveal + get the look

So, like, maaaaybe you’re convinced that chartreuse can be a neutral…but you’re not totally ready to commit to painting a room. I GET IT. It’s a great accent color, too. Case in point: This sweet nursery was designed by THE BIG BOSS. That’s right – Em revealed this space over 6 years ago (!!!) but it still feels cheery, inviting, and modern. And sure, she could have stuck with white draperies…but isn’t this just better? (Side note: In her original mood board, Em actually had planned for pink curtains. The hit of color was just too good to resist, I guess :))

STICK A FORK IN THESE ROOMS BECAUSE THEY ARE DONE. It’s so easy to keep your styling and furniture simple when you’re playing with color in such a creative, special way. I’m especially drawn to these spaces because, at their core, they’re super neutral – white walls, beige floors – but they’re totally amped up by the interaction between the curtains and the main furniture pieces.

design by mendelson group

Here’s one for my most risk-averse folks – one big hit (the upholstered stripe) and 3 little supplementing color infusions (the chair, the blanket, and the art – a true chartreuse-meets-neutral piece!). I’m doubly attracted to this because of the use of brass in the lighting and in the coffee table (since, uh, “whining about how brass goes with everything” was kind of the impetus for this whole exploration).

Nothing says “I’m refined, but I also like to party” quite like filling your home with drop-dead gorgeous antiques and then lacquering your ceiling in a punchy highlighter tone. It’s playful and approachable – you can tell that someone warm and fun lives here, you know?

I’ve had this bathroom pinned forever, too. The lucite legs on this console sink! This strip of chartreuse above the picture moulding! That marble flooring! I’m 99% sure this was pulled from a book (image searches just take me back to Pinterest, which feels criminal) so if anyone recognizes this shot, please help a girl out – I GOTTA buy this book.

Last but not least – as promised!!! – is a real-life before and after. You may be familiar with the image on the right from Erik’s living room reveal, but this may be the first time you’ve ever seen the image on the left – it’s from his 2017 Apartment Therapy House Tour.

The chartreuse paint adds so much depth and character and life, right? The room on the left is stunning (and it’s still incredibly light and bright inspiration, if you’re looking for that in your home!) but MAN. That simple switch to green just makes it feel finished and polished – it’s so freakin’ beautiful. ERIK, YOU’RE MY INSPIRATION IN ALL THINGS.

so…let’s try this again (we’ll do it better this time)

So, sweet pals – HAVE I SWAYED YOU? (It’s okay if you say no – my mom’s response to my color decision was a simple “That’s crazy.”) I’m a firm believer in painting last, so we’ll see how my paint swatches play with all of my furniture once it’s delivered.

In any case, I hope that documenting this overwrought, unnecessarily painstaking process helps someone else – we’re going to finish this bedroom project together and you’re going to know every single thought that’s racing in my smooth, egg-like brain while it all goes down. I mean…it can’t get worse than my neon monstrosity, right? (And if it does, at least you’ll have an interesting, slow-motion train wreck to watch.) LET’S CHAT. xx

Opening Image Credits: Design by Brockschmidt and Coleman | Photo by Simon Watson | via Chairish

0 0 votes
Article Rating


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Vicki Williams
8 months ago

Chartreuse all the way! Yes, yes, yes!

8 months ago

Every picture linked has cool undertones. For some reason, everyone seems to think “warm” undertones are the only way to go.

The “one image in particular that really made my heart skip a beat…” has a chrome sconce not a brass sconce.

Count me in on “cool undertone” team all the way.

8 months ago
Reply to  anon

I was only trying to bold “cool undertones” in the first sentence. Not sure why the rest got bolded and italicized. 🙁

8 months ago
Reply to  anon

I think everyone used really cool grays, like ice berg in Antarctica with penguins on it cold, for so long that people are kinda scared to use cooler tones now. Honestly, I just painted my common areas Strong White which is a white from F&B that has light gray undertones. I love it. It looks warmer in the day light and soothing in the evening.

In the end, I think it’s about doing what makes you happen and what the room needs regardless of hot or cold and what others thing. Just keep it mixed up and interesting. 🙂

Ok, I’m generally not a fan of true chartreuse, but I do love the examples with that gorgeous antique dresser against the wallpaper and holding the modern lamp! And, of Em’s nursery with the chartreuse curtains, and I love those next two pictures! That pink vanity is amazing!

I do like the more neon leaning versions of the color though.

8 months ago

YES CAITLIN!!! I love everything about this!!! I’ve been on a bit of a chartreuse trip myself over the lost couple of years and absolutely think it can bee a great neutral. I do have to say I think it is one of the harder shades to nail down – as in there is a lot of variety of shades when you get something ‘chartreuse’ which can make it a bit tricky when ordering things online – for example I’m leaning more towards the yellow-gold-with-green-undertones part of the chartreuse-spectrum which I feel is very different vibe from the green-with-yellow/gold-undertones part. So definitely consider which you want and try them out first if you can – I really look forward to see where this is going!!!

Mary Rachel
8 months ago

I was a hard “no” when I started reading, but by the time I got to the end, YOU CONVINCED ME 100%!!!!! My brain is weirded out and delighted by every image you presented. And, as always, your writing is a joy to read. 🙂

🥰 Rusty
8 months ago
Reply to  Mary Rachel

Um, but would YOU want your bedroom??

Rachel C
8 months ago

I love both of the tile uses above. The backsplash tile and the fireplace tile both stopped me long enough to really pause and digest. Gorgeous.

8 months ago

Love it! One of the bedrooms in my house is painted BM Lime Ricky-maybe a step less saturated than Erik’s living room. I love a chartreuse/navy pairing as well. I carry Tom Bihn bags and a favorite color way is Wasabi for the interior with a navy exterior.

8 months ago

I love that Emily is talking about needing visual calm and Caitlin is trying to paint everything Chartreuse. Design does not need to be all the same! That being said this is too much for me lol

Cris S.
8 months ago

Get outta my head!!!! I’m doing g this right now!!! First it was a tonal chartreuse velvet/silk pillow that pops against the French blues in my kitchen (on a settee there – not on a counter or anything). And then trying to find the perfect fun but not obnoxious chartreuse-ish green in the guest bedroom to go with a fab chinoiserie fabric (with corals/blues/greens in it). I think the room from Erik (the right hand one) you call out near the end is the color I’m leaning to now – I had gotten samples with a softer jade color but I like the brighter color – it’s happier!).
And most of all because the lead image is one of my favorites. I pulled all the pictures when it (an apartment in NYC) appeared in House Beautiful years ago. I loved how the couple who lived there and designed it DNGAF about what others might think and fully went for what they loved. It’s such a great, hopefully freeing, example of what our homes should be! Go for it Caitlin!!

8 months ago

You are so adorable in the last picture!!! Just seeing that last picture convinced me. Chartreuse is your soul color 🙂 And your images are amazing–what a journey you can take with Chartreuse. I personally loved it paired with the royal and cool blues, either modern or traditional. I’m noticing how much Chinoiserie and art deco is paired with that color–or maybe those are just some of your faves as well! Great post!

8 months ago

“oh my gosh, GOTTA HANG THIS THIS SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF MY LIME GREEN WALL,” but like…maybe they should start thinking that way, you know?

Hahahaha. I just love you and cannot wait to see your finished room. I love that you take risks, and in the end, your designs always turn out so well done. You push me to want to experiment outside of my comfort zone. So, thank you!

Erin Dae
8 months ago

LOVE! I surprised myself by loving this direction so much, but then I was reminded that I am the person who bought a citron (chartreuse’s slightly more yellow cousin!) velvet settee ON A WHIM in a West Elm outlet store and made it work, so….
I have said it before and I’ll say it again – your designs are consistently in the category of “wouldn’t fit in my house but think they are gorgeous” and I’m guessing the bedroom will end up the same way. Can’t wait to see it evolve, and am so happy you are taking us along on the gloriously twisty ride!

8 months ago

Obsessed. Best solution!!!

8 months ago

I am sitting looking at my chartreuse chairs on top of my teal/chartreuse rug. They all came a bit accidentally to me–my sister thrifted the chairs and then gave them to me when she was moving (and because I loved them). And the rug was simply on a really good sale. I’m on the chartreuse train already.

Roberta Davis
8 months ago

I love it and I like most of these spaces a lot! (I think painting a room could be less expensive than some of those luxurious drapes.) Go for it! I especially like the before/after of Erik’s living room.

8 months ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

That was my thought exactly. Upholstering 4
chairs can be pricey, but the most it will probably cost to paint a room is about $75 and one weekend of your life. And what could be a more fun weekend than spending it totally transforming a space for less than $100? I love paint and I love the idea of you painting a room chartreuse. I couldn’t do a whole room in it, but I am intrigued by the chartreuse ceiling. And the Hildi reference cracked me up!

8 months ago

That’s still a “Not today, Hildi” for me but I enjoyed the wild ride through your design journey!

8 months ago

This was a great exploration of this color! I never knew how great chartreuse could be. Looking forward to seeing your room! Such a fun post. Thank you.

8 months ago

A lot of these are lime or pistachio, that said, I love chartreuse and I have a couple of items of chartreuse clothing that are true long time favorites of mine.

BUT I would never paint a room chartreuse because the light is always going to reflect in a sickly way on to people’s skin. Use it as an accent, but don’t paint your walls or ceiling chartreuse without considering how actual people will look in the room, too.

8 months ago

i had no idea. I love it so much and want some chartreuse curtains to go with my blue wall!

🥰 Rusty
8 months ago

Your mom is right.
Listen to your mom, always…seriously, look how sheset you up financially!

My 2 cents: nope, nup, nine, nitch, nay, no-way, eich, ugh and please, FTLOG….Noooooooo!

🥰 Rusty
8 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Caitlin asked us what we thought.
Those are my thoughts.
I in no way attacked Caitlin – Frankly, it’s about individuals’ ability (or not) to accept a non-ego-stroking opinion or ability to debate.
Hello peoole who don’t appear to have thst ability 👋

8 months ago

Caitlin! I found the bathroom picture with the chartreuse stripe, and probably the book. It’s on the G.P. Schafer Architect website. Look at the 20th row down far right picture: He has a book called The Great American House. (Patting myself on the back.)

8 months ago

The Patricia who sent you down the chartreuse rabbit hole could have been my interior design sister, if she was commenter inclined. She is devoted to chartreuse and uses it both as a neutral and as a wall colour. Her favourite pallete is chartreuse, yellow, blue purple and coral, with hits of black and she is adept at making this both subtle or punchy, depending on the space. I marvel at her colour sense, and her homes are meticulous and sophisticated. She never uses white, and rages against beige, so the last decade plus of design trends has been hard on her.

8 months ago

A long time ago I had a red-wallpapered kitchen with a big old lion-footed round table. my cupboards were blue. That table looked so unfinished that I painted it chartreuse/granny smity/pea soup (of course the lion’s feet had red nail polish!). I really loved that storybook kitchen. It emboldened me to paint other things with that same pot of paint. Um, that was a hard no in the bedroom. Guests said they woke up looking dead from the chartreuse walls. Chartreuse is great, but used in the right space was my lesson learned. No one wants to wake up dead

8 months ago

I have been trying to find the nerve (or the right shade) to paint my LV chartreuse for weeks now. I have a teal sofa, a couple of brown wood pieces, a nesting brass side table and a chair with a bit of green-yellow in the fabric. I think it could be fab, as this room is very bright from the 4 windows. I enjoy the deeper shades of chartreuse, not so much the neon lime variations. I also love a shot of fuchsia with teal and chartreuse. A lot of the images presented here look gorgeous, Caitlin! You are an inspiration.

8 months ago

I love chartreuse and everything that Caitlin writes.

emily jane
8 months ago

Chartreuse (aaand most of its cousins (in both the brighter/neon and dirtier/muddy spectrums) has been my ‘mE’ color for as long as I can remember -though interestingly, I just stopped painting my bathroom trim once I realized my vintage brass doorknob (that I adore possibly more than is healthy) was going to disappear if I continued the color onto the door (which means right now, in my teeny-tiny ‘hallway’ there are 4 doorways and the trim of each and every one is a different color at the moment!). I LOVE your process posts and am very much looking forward to seeing your comingling of brass & chartreuse. Please keep sharing alllll your minutia until that bittersweet moment when you have finished designing your apartment…

8 months ago

Chartreuse is one of my favorite colors for decorating. I live in a 1926 bungalow which was white with black shutters – all wrong for the house style. When I painted the house I chose the only earth tone I like-chartreuse. It makes the house! When I antique shop, I am always on the lookout for chartreuse as well. I agree with a previous commenter that it can be hard. I wanted to paint my kitchen chartreuse, but because of the varying light sources, I couldn’t find the right color. Just have to stick with it in my accessories.

8 months ago

YES to chartreuse!

8 months ago

Chartreuse is not a neutral. Something doesn’t need to be a neutral for you to paint your walls with it! I don’t understand, why would anyone say such a thing. EVERYTHING IS NOT A NEUTRAL. This is me taking my frustrations with the design world overall on your particular post, sorry! But also I’d be worried about making your bedroom this exciting – it just isn’t going to be restful but I’m certain it will be beautiful!

8 months ago

Go with a shade that’s more split pea! An interior designer picked Benjamin Moore “Split Pea” for my dining room. I thought she was out of her mind, but “it’s only paint”, so I tried it. And I loved it. When I was getting ready to sell my house, my realtor instructed me to paint my front door and the mailbox the same color (the dining room was visible from the front door) and keep the rest of the house white. The results were stunning! I’m trying to figure out where to use that color or something similar in my new house…

8 months ago

Oh this is amazing and EXACTLY what I’m missing. Stopped me in my tracks and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way. I have lots of muted turquoise, navy that leans a bit warmer/green, black, white, rust couch, and walnut furniture and shelves. I really love these colors but I’ve been feeling like it’s a little more serious/traditional than my actual style is. It’s missing a zing in here! Next we need a round up of chartreuse accessories!

8 months ago

You’re amazing. I so love reading your writing! What a joyful post today. THANK YOU! And team chartreuse all the way. It’s only paint! Cannot wait to see it.

8 months ago

i love it all!! As a teenager I drove a like green Volkswagen and the color always makes me so happy! I don’t think I have chartreuse in the near future for my home, but I might just look for a chartreuse top in the meantime. Thanks for the great inspo! I especially appreciated the more “traditional” homes with such bold colors.

8 months ago
Reply to  Sarah
Cris S.
8 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

I will NOT. You should go for it – that is gorgeous!!!!

8 months ago

This is great! I love chartreuse and have a lot of chartreuse clothing, jewelry, eyeglass frames and even dyed my hair chartreuse last year but have never used it in my home. Need to find a way to give it a try.

8 months ago

The designer Michael Smith had (has?) a home that is enfilade deep red, chartreuse and lilac. So beautiful.

8 months ago

While some of these look fun and good, I don’t see chartreuse as a neutral. Is it memorable? Yes. Is it fun? Yes. Is it beige, navy, black, or gray? No. That may be why many people love it, but the other neutrals are timeless. This is not timeless. This is all trend. Does it work with almost any color? No to that also…. Again, not a neutral.

I almost bought a sofa from Mitchell Gold a few years ago. It was a chartreuse velvet and I’m so glad I didn’t buy it. It would have tired easily within only a few years. My decision was to buy a rich brown leather sofa from Cococohome that will be neutral to any design and decor for years to come.

I do like the idea of chartreuse, but again, it’s no neutral. Great writing and I love reading what you share. Thank you for the post!

🥰 Rusty
8 months ago
Reply to  Josh

Josh, yes! All trend.

8 months ago

Chartreuse is the only neutral I acknowlege, lol. I LOVE IT!!!! And I don’t think your childhood bedroom looks neon at all! I have painted 2 kitchens chartreuse and they both were bright and delightful and no one every looked sickly in them. They were extremely “happy” rooms.

8 months ago

Love this and love chartreuse!!

8 months ago

I painted a basement bedroom in farrow and ball “Churlish” a couple years ago, thinking it was the most insane color I had ever chosen, but nothing else seemed to work with the low light and vintage furniture, and it ended up being so cute, and not overpowering at all.

Sarah Richardson
8 months ago

Do it! I grew up with a chartreuse kitchen. And in my grown up life I painted a powder bath chartreuse. The color makes me feel alive!

Kelly P
8 months ago

Hmmmm… I need to see this one evolve. I’m not a ‘no’ because I love everything else in Caitlin’s house so I am prepared to be swayed, but I think Chartreuse is a bit much for me. Almost too harsh or something. I’m more in the pistachio/citron camp. My fave inspo picture in this post is the lovely blue room with the stripe on the settee and the vivid chair – which I ADORE! I guess I classify as risk averse – haha! But I’m VERY excited to see how you pull it together!

Go To Top