How to add color to a neutral space

March 31, 2015

It’s funny how our styles change throughout the years, right? In college and in my early 20’s I was ALL about maroon and green. I had ivy everywhere. Then it was red and gold soon after we moved into this house 11 years ago. Whoooeee…all the things were gold and red. 

After that I hit a paint-everything-black phase too – mixed in with the gold and the red of course. It was getting a little dark around here. ;) 

It’s funny, but back then I would never ever ever have put blue in our house. I’m quite sure I said it out loud – “I will never use blue in this house.” Foreboding. I didn’t like it at all…and now it’s my favorite color. 

I realized as I was finishing up the last of the 17 (!!) pillow covers I’ve sewn over the past few weeks that blue is in almost every room of our house: blue ikat fabric
Got both of those fabrics from Calico Corners by the way – they had a 20 percent off sale over the weekend, look for those.
Here’s our family room way way back:
red and brown family room
It was warm and cozy for sure. We loved it!
But blue feels classic and cozy to me too – whether I go light or dark with it:
small sectional family room
Here’s another look back at a more recent photo (four years ago) with the gold and red tones:
corner fireplace
I think it was lovely – I’m not one to knock my old style. But blue is my newer love and has been for years now:
small sectional
Our drapes in the family room are a lighter, almost a gray blue:
board and batten windows
They were on those windows when that room was my office – I think that room was the first one I started pulling the blue into years back. It was the start of my love affair. :) I waffle between these drapes and a slightly bolder design, but until I find something that strikes me these will stay. I do love them!
I showed you the new window seat pillows last week:
bay window seat in kitchen
You can’t go wrong with green and blue – it’s fresh and fun!
There’s blue all over the place in the “new” library:
DIY bookcases
It’s more of a gray blue but it counts. ;)
What a difference compared to how the room used to look, yes?:
gold and red dining room
See, I told you that gold and red was my JAM!
I walked through the house finding more and more examples I didn’t even think of. Ha! I told you it’s all over the place:wainscoting DIY
You can see more about the DIY art here!
That dresser was black when I found it on Craigslist: dresser as foyer table
I’ve mentioned how much I love a little bit of black in every room, but the back of the front door and the bench are enough for me now. Seriously…the black accents got a little out of control for for a while.
One of my favorite rooms is the mud room – it’s a peacock blue and I LOVE it:
beadboard on walls
I take it back – the gold and black laundry room I do regret:
I was thinking pretty pale yellow and black. I ended up with surface-of-the-sun yellow and black. :)
The only room in the house with actual blue walls is our son’s room. He wants to change up a few things in here soon but the wall color will stay:
airplane boy room
His room gets the least natural light in our house and yet the color still doesn’t make it feel closed in. Paired with the white it feels classic and timeless!
If you would have said to me five years ago that I’d have blue walls, furniture and pillows I would have been all EW. (Jimmy Fallon voice.) Now it’s what makes me happiest when decorating our house.
Is there a color you love that you said you would NEVER use in your home? I’m guessing it’s safe to say orange won’t happen here but I’ve certainly learned never to say never.
*Pretty sure I said blue 89 times.
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  1. I'm still on the rust/gold/beige train. My house is warm and cozy, but I do LOVE all of your blue. I just can't replace everything at once, and mixing blue in would look dumb.

  2. As they say, "Blue and white, always right!"

  3. Ha! The absolute best part of this post is the very last line.

    Beautiful as always!

  4. Welcome to the BLUE! I've always liked blue but also didn't have it in my home until the 4 years ago. I did yellow and green a lot, just like your red and gold. Now I've got blue, it started because the hubby loves blue but then I realized it can be a neutral and you can put any other color with it! AMAZING! I even have a blue, white/silver christmas tree!! Right now I've got a lot of blue, silver/white, grey and tan going on... but I think the blue will be here to stay for a while.

  5. Blue is my new love. It looks good with gray, white & green. I love the fabric you've brought in with your pillows, you have me looking for new fabric!

  6. I went through the "country blue/redish rust" phase - and I had so much blue that now I just can't seem to go back to it.. it is great in the other homes I see it in - but I just can't go back myself.. haha - I think I must have OD'd on it! Your house is amazing, btw - thanks for sharing it!

  7. Welcome to the blue club. I have it all over my house. Living room color, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. There are so many shades to encompass whatever mood your in. You can have soft and calm or deep and regal. It's my favorite color.

  8. I always said I would NEVER EVER EVER have grey walls. I liked them in other peoples houses but I said they made me feel sad. My entire house now has grey walls (it was that way when I moved in) and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It feels so cozy and makes me so happy. I have always had blue in my homes and I still love it. I used to have reds/golds in my bedroom way back but I am so over that now too.

  9. I am a red lover and was totally on the red and gold train up until recently (2 yrs.). I can't seem to part with red, but I'm mixing it in with yellows, whites and blues. It's working! Love your home. It's amazing!

  10. I've always been a blue person because I have a lit if the ocean running through my house. But I was tired of always pairing it with green. You know what looks lovely with blue but gives a fun pop? Orange! Do there's the clout I never thought I'd have around my house. You may see it around your's someday after all. :)

  11. I totally remember you hating on blue! Love all the different tones around the house. And your library looks so cozy. Love it!

  12. Darn cant find any of the fabrics you used on Calico Cormers

  13. Wow what a difference in those makeovers!! I lurve blue and white paired together and my favourite "right now" is bright and colorful mixtures. All things white and bright for me :)

    I guess it's true though never say never until you try it you'll never know! I love your space it's so pretty and that window bench in the kitchen is awesome! Can't WAIT to see your kitchen makeover.

    Lauren | LB Designs

  14. So fresh and airy. But I always loved blue, although that has evolved from wedgewood to sea glass and turquoise/aqua.

    Did you list the source for your library rug? I've searched through your site but can't locate it.
    Rediscovered your blog recently. Now it's a must see for me!!

    Thanks for your great ideas.

    1. It was from HomeGoods! I know that's not much help -- the only thing the tag says is that it's from the "Regal" collection.

  15. Honestly, it looks so much better now. It's more airy and it looks more spacious :D

  16. I would love to change my main level. Make it more light and bright. Hubby doesn't want me to. He says it's fine. Lot of beige, green and gold with a small bit of red thrown in. I think our compromise is that I get to do the light and airy down the basement if we ever finish it. There is not much natural light down there.

  17. Well I'm obsessed with blue and green and have been as long as I can remember. I definitely remember the gold/jewel tones days. When I met my husband, his house was a lot of those colors. The couch was a dark brown/almost purple. Gold throw blanket. Art work all had the jewel tones in it. Deep red accent pillows. Yup! Then we moved to the espresso brown era, with some light blue here and there. Now we're on the white/gray/blue/green train with everybody else. ha ha. It's funny how trends change over the years!

    One time we painted our guest room a light lavender. :/ Including the ceiling. :/ At the time the whole house had the same paint color, including the ceilings. I couldn't leave it light beige with lavender so the ceiling become lavender. It was a bit much! I was going for that cool Calvin Klein lavender but it didn't really work. ha ha.

  18. It's funny, most of my home is red, white and blue but my living room is pumpkin/orange. I know it sounds crazy but it is beautiful. The living room opens into the dining room and that is blue. I have had more compliments than I can count. I am almost ready for a change.

    1. Whenever I see an image of blue and orange in a space, I get this happy feeling that comes over me. Its like a tingly sensation. I know I'd love your rooms.

  19. I was never one for beige walls, but now I'm actually thinking of painting the main space with a light, warm beige. I loved the gray walls in designs before but now I just want warmer tones. Maybe it has something to do with moving from CA to MN. :) Our master bedroom is midnight blue though and I plan on painting the basement a light teal with "modern 50's" accents. I have plans for a deep emerald green office and a plum bathroom. I may have a love affair with the color wheel!

  20. I could not stand red and then I moved into our first home and started adding red to my kitchen and then painted a red accent wall. Then we moved into a bigger house in October and the first piece of furniture I bought was a red tv stand that I love!! Red, go figure. I do love blue. But I just spent the last 2 days painting my eldest's room pink. Her request and it is not my room so I honored it. Bright pink stripes on one wall with white and then a very pale pink for the rest of the walls. I do not mind painting so I figure in a few years I will propose a change! My 4 year old wants purple and a deep, dark purple or rainbows. Good grief!!

  21. I love this! It's fun to look back and see how our style has changed. I went through a yellow phase, and I've been in a blue phase for the past 10 yrs. Our new house has a lot of yellow and green, but I'm not that motivated to paint, although I'm in the mood for some gray!

  22. I just love your pillows and the way they change the look of the rooms! Blue is my favorite color yet I have very little except for some accent pieces of it in my house. But thanks to you Sarah, I am going to sew myself some new pillows! You have inspired me to freshen up my house and dig out my sewing machine. I used to love to sew and have gotten away from it but since I saw your fabrics, I hit the fabric stores again! I especially love the green/blue combinations. Thank you!

  23. Love this post! btw, hoping you're not getting rid of your blogroll? it won't show up on my screen...

    1. No, I fixed some issues with my domain and it disappeared! :( Trying to remember who I had on it and add them back. ;)

  24. I was definitely into the warm jeweled tones when we built our house in 2004-2005. I think it was very trendy then. I remember my husband wanted some white walls and I refused saying it was too cold. Now I've repainted to very light greys and whites (except the kids rooms). I'm hoping to make everything more neutral with pops of color that can be changed out easily (pillows, blankets, accessories, etc). My favorite accent color currently is green.

  25. I'm starting a refresh of my house and I decided to start with the front porch. Porch ceiling is a light blue and I added a dark blue rug and chair cushions. Then with a couple of cans of spray paint, I redid a small table and some flower pots in blue shades. For flowers, the yellows and oranges are popping out in this color scheme, though it would be fun to try a blue morning glory on a nearby trellis.

  26. Oh, the red and gold, or as I have come to call it, my ketchup and mustard phase! I, too, loved that color combo, and brown for the dining room...oy veh. Just like you , I never thought I would decorate with blue, but there are so many different gorgeous shades and amazing fabrics now, I have come to love it as well! BTW, the black dresser in our foyer is almost identical to one I bought on Craigslist a few years ago!

  27. Oh, the red and gold. I loved it well. After the all brown early 80's I went to the pastel western look in the late 80's, followed by the emeralds, then animal print, then? I loved them dearly at the time. Things always look different in retrospect. Makes me wonder why our tastes change so much, when other people seem to be content with one color scheme forever. Sometimes, I wish I were them. Redecorating makes me foam at the mouth until I achieve the look I'm after, and drives my husband crazy.

  28. I think blue is a trendy color now. When I first got my house, I decorated it in greens and maroons, too. But now, I have been using more yellows and might even add some blue to my family room, even though I never thought it liked blue before!

  29. I love your blog and so glad I ran across it a couple months ago. You are so talented. I was a green/gold/red kind of gal. (Even a red sectional! Very country decor and I mean really country. But as the years have passed this last year I find myself going towards lighter and calming colors. I recently painted the kitchen and family room a light grey (from its many years of Charlston Tan!) and what a difference. Bought a new 2 piece WHITE sofa (and i have 2 dogs and 6 grandkids!) love it. Reupholstered a chair that has shades of blue/gray/cream. Changed out the red/gold/green drapes to Pottery Barn light weight sheers. WHAT a difference! Purging a lot of the old country and bringing in more architectural details. Much more homey and clean! Thanks again for your wonderful blog and keep up the good work!

  30. Believe it or not my color is beige/tan. I hated it as the neutral in everyone's home. Now that it's out I'm starting to really like it -- I've got plans for 2 or maybe 3 rooms to have it on the walls (with a blue ceiling though!). I am getting more on the blue train too. That was another color I thought I didn't want in my house at all and was happy with that, but now I'm adding it as accent everywhere.

  31. I've loved blue ever since, but only recently have put it all around my home. Love your touches of it Sarah!

  32. I've always liked warm colors because they always seemed to fit well with my two old 1920's spanish houses....but now that hot flashes have arrived....I find myself ditching the warm hues of off white, avocado and burnt orange for cool shades of blue, green and orange....I have cool colors all around me and it makes me feel cooler which helps mentally with constantly being HOT!!!. Thankfully my husband loves shade of blue and does not mind my need surround myself with the colors of the ocean to cool me off during this hot time of life.

  33. I decorated our first house in all reds and yellows (I mean REALLY yellow, like, almost orange-y), too. That was seven years ago and I found it very difficult to decorate with. We just moved and I'm using a much more neutral pallet at the new house. :)

  34. I have been through every single trend you described and had quite the same sentiments towards blue! Now every wall in my house is the most serene shade of coastal blue! It's amazing how styles change. Some of my blues were inspired by you! (Chalk paint dresser!!)

  35. I never gave up on blue! I have had it in my home for 20 years! It was sometimes hard to find accessories and even a couch but I perservered with my blue. I love it

  36. Nice interior design, thanks share idea. Godluck

  37. I had to laugh when I read this post! I was sitting in my gold/red bedroom at the time! My couch is red velvet, my kitchen is red/black/tan, all of my accent pillows are red/beige... I'm not sure if/when I'll ever get tired of it. I still love my red!

  38. Hello Thrifty Decor Chick
    I've been following your sight for a long time. I think you are very creative.You like to keep evolving in making your family's home into a place of style and function !
    As for me Me , my color pallet changes, I love color and not afraid to use it !
    I can't wait to see what you do next !
    Rubic -California

  39. So funny. I grew up in the 80s, all remnants of 70s were rust/copper colored shag rugs and very interesting diamond, India-inspired prints with taupe in the background. We had a sofa that was entirely composed of brown on brown on brown hues. I swore those colors off for life.

    But now, years later I'm recently so into rust/coppery colors and turquoise on natural looking fabrics- exotic prints and all.

  40. I love how fresh your home is with the blues, greens, and greys. I do my best to change out my color scheme with my decor as the seasons change (blues and greens for spring and summer & reds and warmer tones for fall and winter)

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista


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