How to Make Bold Colors Work in a New York Space | Rodman Paul Architects

How to Make Bold Colors Work in a New York City Apartment

Michael Fasulo, AIA, LEED AP
March 9, 2018

One of most talked-about design trends for 2018 is “bold colors.” Gorgeous photos of wall-to-wall emerald green, crimson, and even “Gen-Z yellow” serve as a siren song to New Yorkers weary of sleet filled grey canyons.

The size and shape of New York apartments can mean there’s less room for error when you’re working with big, deep colors. Before you paint your entire apartment in Ultraviolet (Pantone’s 2018 Color of the Year), here are some guidelines for using bold color.

  • If you’re in for a color, go all in. Accent walls feel timid, and you get the most impact by committing to the color. Do all of the walls in a room or alcove, consider doing the trims too.
  • If you have something which can read as an object in the space like columns, millwork, an alcove of vestibule or even an exposed radiator, punch it up with rich color.
How to Make Bold Colors Work in a New York City Apartment 3 | Rodman Paul Architects
A pop of color: lined cabinet interiors
  • Think about how the colors will look not just during the day, but at night and in various lighting conditions. Does your space have an abundance of natural light? Does it rely primarily on artificial lighting? What color is the flooring? Will it reflect light back into a dark space?
  • When using deep colors, make certain that you have full, strong artificial lighting to bring out the depth of the color.
  • Colored backgrounds with patterns or textures in paint, wallpaper, and special paint finishes can be good alternatives to solid blocks of color. Patterns are also good at concealing imperfections in a wall you don’t/can’t replace, an issue encountered in pre-war apartments.
How to Make Bold Colors Work in a New York City Apartment | Rodman Paul Architects
Hand-painted Gracie wallpaper in a bold orange red brings warmth to this Park Avenue dining room.
  • Bold colored furniture can be a unique way to incorporate jewel tones or intense colors. In every furnishing style, there are options that can bring bold colors to the space – painted wood or upholstery. Adding a deep or contrasting color to the inside of open cabinets adds extra impact to special objects displayed in millwork.
How to Make Bold Colors Work in a New York City Apartment 2 | Rodman Paul Architects
A violet couch creates a bold statement in a West Side apartment.
  • Before making final decisions, make big samples (2’ x 2’) on masonite or foam core and look at them in several locations in the actual space in both day light and artificial light.
  • Sheen impacts the richness of colors – matte paints look gauzy and lighter, shiny or gloss paints tend to be a bit deeper in color. Be sure to carefully inspect your surfaces before using gloss and high gloss: the glossier the finish the more it will show any imperfections in the wall surface.