A Pasadena couple reveals how to live with a daring palette
One look at the electric blue and gray hexagonal tile in Jon Leaver and Tyke O’Brien’s kitchen, and you wouldn’t think they went with the safe choice. But in the couple’s 1940s Pasadena bungalow, “safe” is a relative term. “For us, it’s a bigger risk to do something boring,” says O’Brien.
The whole house reflects that spirit of brio. Inspired by photos of rooms with dark walls, the couple—both teachers who moonlight as interior designers—painted the kitchen cabinets and walls charcoal gray and covered the floor in the colorful geometric tile. Their living room palette? Teal and hot yellow. Even the front door didn’t escape without a graphic motif.
To make room for all this color and pattern, the couple left most walls pale gray or white. “Light dove gray is the best canvas to set artwork against,” O’Brien says. “We love how color pops against it.” When a space has one big gesture, such as the wallpapered accent wall in the master bedroom, they left the other elements neutral for balance.
Their best advice, however, comes from blowing through lots of color experiments that didn’t work: Accept that you’ll make mistakes, then paint over them.