How to do Pops of Colour. (If you really must)

 I’ve heard or read one too many times lately about statement pieces, pops of color, accent drapery, or even —  heaven help me — feature walls, to stay quiet.

If you have read my column for awhile, you know my position on these things. But because my online readership is increasing (thank you for that) I’d like to go over the design concepts that contribute to the success or failure of these color additions.

Here it is in a nutshell. I could quit writing after this one sentence, but for the design neophyte  I’ll explain a bit more.

“Your eye goes to the area of greatest contrast first, and that contrast becomes a focal point.” tree with broken branch


The broken branch on a tree which is standing alone in a field.

  high-contrast blue and orange sofa


High-contrast cushions on a sofa.

A contrast colored wallpaper wall. Just one wall.

A white bookcase on a wood wall.

1 yellow vase

 A yellow vase sitting between two blue ones.

Orange printed drapes. Anywhere. 

white belt on a black dress

A white belt on a black dress.

A busy backsplash.


Now, here’s the thing. Sometimes you want the contrast piece to take control of the visuals of the room. That is a design decision, and can truly add to the aesthetic.


green curtains_For example, green drapes framing a window which looks onto the flower garden — that is creating a focal point and is done purposefully.  

 But a few purple cushions on a white sofa, used to create a “pop of color,’  detract from everything else and just sit there hollering, ‘“Look at me, look at me!” You could have the most gorgeous area rug ever, but the high-contrast cushions will win all the attention. And yes, it is a battle.

So, if your intention IS to make the high-contrast item the focal point, away you go. And now you know why it works and therefore how to do it to your advantage. 

BUT if you are looking to brighten things up or add a bit of interest, adding a high-contrast item won’t fix the problem. It will just accentuate it.  For example, you hate your sofa. So you put a high-contrast cushion on it. All that does is draw attention to both pieces. But if you put some really beautiful sofa-toned cushions on the sofa, the sofa assumes a supporting role to the beautiful fabric. Which is what you wanted to happen.

red sofa with red pillows 



Written by