Add energy and intrigue to your walls with jewel tones.
From rich emerald green to vibrant ruby red, jewel-toned colors are quite popular in interior design today. When done correctly, adding jewel tones to your home can create an elegant, classy space, with a hint of glamor, that brings your personality to light.
We dropped in on Wendy Doornink of Hirshfield’s to find out how the color specialist and Realtor helps homeowners incorporate these trending pops of color to their homes.
“I see this movement of jewel tones add richness and luxe in places where people just want to embrace a feeling of warmth and intrigue, a little mystery and differentness,” Doornink says.
Emerald green is having a huge moment and is appearing on cabinetry, wood wainscotting, accent walls in bedrooms and entire powder bathrooms. It corresponds with the trend of incorporating natural colors into our environment. (See our timeless design trends article on page 24 to read more about this trend.) Green is healing and calming, the color of growth and renewal.
Cerulean or sapphire blues are timeless, and, as crisper and clearer colors, can add energy in addition to anchoring the room. Blue cabinets are almost a staple in design at this point, and bolder colors stand out from the norm.
Citrine is a stronger color personality and should be added with care so as not to overwhelm a space. A great place to start with this tone is in décor like pillows, artwork, bedding, curtains—things that can be added in smaller quantities.
Amethyst tones are grayed-down versions of red that lean a bit purple but not too much. To find the right jewel tones, look for natural colors—ones that feel like they could have been created naturally, like dying cloth with beets. These colors feel comforting, homey, easy and true. Amethyst falls perfectly into that category.
Getting it Right
Jewel tones are a perfect choice for people tired of homes full of neutrals and ready for vibrancy and energy. Doornink notes that breaking the style norm is good, but there’s a right way to do it.
Pick One Color as your Main Jewel
“You’re usually drawn to one or two. Use one for your main accent walls and bring the rest in soft décor like furnishings, chair covers, rugs, pillows, drapery and couches,” Doornink says.
Avoid Using Strong Colors
It’s overwhelming and makes your house feel small, even with good lighting. “There’s usually one star of the show—one color that’s dominant, and the rest of the colors are supporting players,” Doornink says. “You have to let the diva be the diva.”
Test a Swatch Before Committing
Paint two coats of a swatch on your walls, and look at the color at the time of day you’re going to spend the most time in that room. “Every room feels different—a north facing room feels so different from a sunny west in the afternoon,” Doornink says.
Don’t go too Bright
Once you get it on the wall, color shines like crazy. “I have a saying: ‘When in doubt, gray it out,’” Doornink says. “Make it more gray than you think, and it’ll still come through with a lot of color.” She also recommends using a matte or eggshell paint instead of a satin or semi-gloss when painting with jewel tones.
Where to Add a Punch of Color
Jewel tones can bring drama, personality and moody vibes into your home. Homeowners concerned about resale value should paint neutral colors in flow areas like hallways and stairways and in hard-to-reach areas. In bathrooms, match whatever is going on with the tile, making it look like it all belongs.
Have fun in other areas. “Go crazy with color in bedrooms, offices, laundry rooms and front doors,” Doornink says. “Those are personality things and people are going to repaint your bedrooms and offices anyway.”
But Doornink also asks, “How long do you plan to stay in the house?’ Because if it’s the last one before … the retirement home—do what makes you happy.”
Look to add colors here:
- Front and
- interior doors
- Trim (base and casing)
- Dining chairs
- Backs of bookshelves
- Sides of drawer boxes
- Picture frames
- Artwork—pick a color from the print as a background color
- Zoom backdrop walls
- Kitchen islands
- Laundry rooms
- Powder baths—dark and dramatic, wallpaper or paint the wall with the sink and toilet
An Ideal Match
Maximalism styles can incorporate jewel tones and bring many colors together. Wallpaper is embracing this idea, and the options are almost endless as far as color and pattern. Large patterns and big colors bring a homeowner’s personality to the walls. Powder bathrooms are the perfect space to add this drama. And don’t worry about the colors being too dark in rooms without windows. Adequate lighting will keep the space from feeling too dark.
Bohemian styles add woven and natural woods to the palette of brighter colors—these accents help soften the overall effect of the dramatic colors and again leaning toward a natural trend, feel unfussy, easy and true to one’s personality.
White is a perfect accent to jewel tones. It allows the colors to be dominant without competing with them. Crisp white like BM “Chantilly Lace” or a warmer neutral like the popular BM “White Dove” or BM “Swiss Coffee” can be the accenting walls or backdrop to artwork full of color. Black can accent as well but in limited amounts.
Cabinet hardware colors that work with jewel tones vary. There’s currently a curated look when it comes to metals in our homes. For example, the faucet can be a black finish while drawer pulls are an aged brass—with brushed gold currently making appearances on kitchen and bath cabinets. Brushed gold, brass and black are great with bolder jewel tones, while brushed nickel works best with more muted or neutral tones.
Remember the days of peeling and scraping off wallpaper? Ditch that memory because Doornink says the process has improved. Priming and sealing a wall, creating a waterproof barrier, makes it easier to remove wallpaper. Don’t forget about peel-and-stick wallpaper as an option.
“The key to wallpaper is finding that one jewel tone you love and letting the rest of your room coordinate with as much neutral as you can,” she says. “… We’re getting more daring with the strength of the hues.”