Picture Credit The Enchanted House Blog
Often times when people think about decorating with a particular color, they automatically gravitate by painting the walls that hue and accessorizing with coordinating furniture. There certainly isn't anything wrong with that approach, although for many people who adore bold pops of color they tend to be at a loss because they don't want it splashed on their walls.
Here is a room that shows us how to use color in a very sophisticated approach. They have done everything right! Some of the nicest designed interiors base their homes around high end architectural materials, and well chosen antiques that reflect the owners style. Many times these homes let the architecture speak for itself, and the furniture is often carefully chosen pieces of art themselves. A kitchen which has beautiful cabinetry doesn't need a dozen accessories, but rather one masterpiece bowl sitting on the counter is enough to say, "look at me, but REALLY look at the cabinetry" A minimal approach to decorating works. Approaching decorating this way, a person doesn't need a wide range of accessories, but nicer furniture that can hold a persons intrigue for a longer period of time.
Regency and Empire furniture does just that. Empire furniture is known for the outstanding mahogany veneer wood that appear so intricate in its natural design that a person is drawn in to take a closer look at the details of such a luxurious example of wood. Layer on top of the wood a few well chosen decorative ormolu accents, and you will have a piece of furniture that will stop you in your tracks several times a day.
In this space you can see that the architect looked at the space and figured out the design based on the architecture of the room. You can see their initial approach with how the floor is laid out. In this room you see the floors feature a checkerboard marble pattern in both black and white carrara marble. The pattern on the floor was brilliantly laid in such a way to distinguish two different areas. One which features one half of the room with a round table, and the other which highlights some antique chairs. You can see the oval or round table is an exceptional antique, either gold leafed or brass and has nothing on top of the table. This table most likely features a gorgeous marble pattern which speaks for itself, and doesn't need anything in addition.
The walls were painted in a simple gray beige, and glossy black doors with heavy hardware provide a rich yet simple look. The chairs seem to be the most brilliant feature of this room. Long hallways that connected one room to another has been seen in the most premier castles around the world. Here you see the opportunity for that design to be showcased here.
For the longest time, I gravitated away from white paint on furniture, because I have seen too many times how horrible "shabby" white furniture looks from amature painters. I think where many people go wrong with painting furniture is they don't determine the appropriate color for the style and age of furniture.
Would you ever paint an arts and crafts mission style chair a bright white?
White furniture looks very appropriate on Modern Regency styled pieces. If you think of designers such as Draper, Wearstler, and Adler, they have often used high gloss lacquer in their approach to white furniture. It would be a terrific sight to see a bombe chest in a high white gloss. A piece such as this gives off such a brilliant shine as if it was waxed for hours.
White also looks sensational on primitive furniture in a white that has beige or yellow undertones. I remember the first time I tried spray painting a piece of furniture in Heirloom white, I was amazed at how nice my piece of furniture looked in WHITE!
Swedish furniture is often painted, but never a stark white, rather with gray undertones. Many times the piece of furniture is distressed so heavily that the wood and the paint combination create a beautiful intrigue.
Too many people make the mistake of painting their furniture a color that belongs on the ceiling. They forget about distressing and glazing which gives it an antique appearance.
White in my opinion has never looked better in my opinion on on Empire furniture. The additional furniture mounts or carved details are accented in brass or gold leafed makes the white paint even more special to look at.
In this photo by William Hodgins you can see two terrific chairs, which I think are actually gray painted but in the picture they show as white. The one chair is upholstered in a animal print where as the other chair is upholstered in a blue silk dot on white fabric. Both chairs are terrific examples of how a piece of furniture can be the focal point of a room.
Again here is the original yellow chair. The frame is painted in an off white and they chose a butter yellow upholstery fabric for the seats and the back rest. The brass furniture mounts add an extravagant touch which really makes this chair appear high end. Yellow can be extremely vibrant and a brilliant choice to base an interior around. Not only is it bright but very striking to look at.
Patterned fabric paired with a Regency or Empire chair can look very rich. Choosing something as basic as a white and yellow, or a yellow and gray, or a yellow and black pattern can make a chair look like a piece of art. Adding carved wood appliques which are spray painted in gold and finished off with gold leaf is a sure way of adding extra dimension to your antique chairs.
Here are my top three fabric choices for decorating with yellow against a white frame: