Q&A with DE­SIGNER CHRIS­TINE HUGHES

Décor - - Southern Exposure -

Chris­tine Hughes isn’t afraid of color. Or, for that mat­ter, pat­tern. Still, she thinks they’re best doled out in small mea­sures, so they ac­cent rather than over­take a room.

Q: How do you ap­proach color?

A: I ask clients what col­ors they like, and then try to find ver­sions that are a lit­tle less typ­i­cal and less ex­pected—col­ors with some life to them. I tend to use color in ac­cents; I find color is more pow­er­ful that way. Q: What’s the ideal white wall paint?

I like shad­owed whites that are re­ally pale grays; they’re less ster­ile than flat whites, yet don’t bring in any warmth or creami­ness. Gray­ish whites have depth, and high­light bold col­ors in a way that warmer whites just can’t. My fa­vorite shad­owed white of the mo­ment is Far­row & Ball’s “Am­monite.” Q: What role do ac­ces­sories play in a white room? A: They make a quiet, sooth­ing room more in­ter­est­ing. A bit of brass al­ways helps. I love brass. I love pil­lows, too. I don’t like to over-pil­low peo­ple, but a great pil­low or even a throw is a won­der­ful way to bring in color. They are also easy to take away when you de­cide you’re in the mood for some­thing dif­fer­ent.

Q: What’s a sur­pris­ing way to add color?

A: I tell peo­ple to buy as many art books as they pos­si­bly can. Books in­tro­duce color in such a sub­tle way. And they’re great lay­er­ing tools.

Q: What strate­gies do you use to build in­ter­est?

A: I think of in­te­rior de­sign like fash­ion. When I get dressed in the morn­ing, I al­ways put on one thing that stands out—an in­ter­est­ing belt or some­thing leather, some­thing with a hard edge. Then I bal­ance it with things that are softer, like a silk blouse. Try do­ing the same thing on a shelf or a table­top.

Q: That takes con­fi­dence, doesn’t it?

A: What it takes is a will­ing­ness to make choices that feel slightly un­com­fort­able to you. That’s what makes a room in­ter­est­ing in­stead of just pretty. If you love blue, go slightly brighter, or richer, or deeper than you nor­mally do. Think be­yond what you feel ready for so you can grow into your house over time. That way you won’t get bored with it later.

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