Small-space style

Make every inch of a small home count with these inventive design ideas, creative organization tips, and decorating strategies

4 common color mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Go bright or go white? Design expert Allison Arieff shows how to pick paint like a pro

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Adrienne, a global traveler who counts Greece, India, Morocco, and China among her recent destinations, thinks she knows what she wants. Having thought about it overnight (an eternity), she longs for some-thing a little exotic in her dining room. “Sometimes when I look at these white walls, I want something more vibrant,” she tells Kaye. “My husband and I do lots of entertaining and really want the dining room to be amazing. So I’m kind of thinking an accent wall in a Moroccan blue or meditative purple. But I have made bad choices in the past. When I’ve gone with a bold color before, it wasn’t what I expected.”

Resisting my usual sarcastic tendencies, I refrain from blurting out, “Really? A purple dining room?” Kaye, being the nonsibling in the room, approaches the situation with far more diplomacy. “Generally, I’m not a big fan of the accent wall, because people usually pick a color that’s too strong. I like white, but sometimes all white feels like an apartment. And if you have all white walls and paint just one, there’s too much contrast. Your eyes will get tired faster and you’ll feel overwhelmed.”

So what does Kaye suggest? Well, it’s somewhat ironic, really, because in this case, the color consultant’s cure-all is the very antithesis of color. “You have a lot of color in your furniture and accessories,” Kaye observes. “Most people are afraid to do that. But for the dining room, I’d pick a color you can start to tie things together with, something to enhance things. I’m thinking a pale shade of gray.”

This is an idea that makes sense. It would play off the tones of the living room curtains and the concrete fireplace, and would enhance, not compete with, the bold artworks by Rex Ray on the dining-room wall. And it isn’t purple. Adrienne loves the idea but ultimately decides on (for now, anyway) the ultimate un-accent wall in one of Kaye’s favorite neutrals―Benjamin Moore’s Super White.

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