Six Colorful Style Tricks

Designer Amanda Nisbet infuses a family beach retreat on Long Island with radiant hues, from bold blues to punchy pinks.

Kitchen Eating Area

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Color Challenge

Ask any designer what frightens clients most, and the answer is usually one word: color. Thankfully, Amanda Nisbet, of New York–based Amanda Nisbet Design, has no fear. “People get scared of bold hues because they think they’re unsettling, but using lots of color can create a cozy, joyous atmosphere, especially in a family-oriented home,” she says.

This feel-good approach is exactly what Amanda went for in a beach house on Long Island, where her clients, an energetic family of six, spend weekends throughout the year. They asked for “elegant but comfortable,” so she used a palette that was both full-throttle and family-friendly, from a deep green TV room to super-saturated navy and red in the living room. Read on for six ways to add bold color to your home.


Photo: Jonny Valiant

Start Out Strong

The foyer is a house’s first impression, and Amanda wanted to make this one memorable. Instead of repainting the just-done white walls, she jazzed up plain coral-shaped sconces with periwinkle paint. “A strong color can actually make a grand space less overwhelming,” says Amanda, who anchored the entry with a hexagonal table covered in a blue-and-white-print fabric.

TV Room

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Experiment With a Single Color

In the TV room, Amanda painted the walls a vibrant green to match the custom-upholstered sectional, but softened the look with white piping, a pair of white pod chairs, and a nubby carpet. The result: a surprisingly comfortable venue for nighttime lounging and movie watching. The domed spotlights can be rotated to direct light as needed.

Game Room

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Vary Textures

Bold blue and red can sometimes seem harsh, so Amanda toned them down in the game room by incorporating soft materials, such as terry cloth. An arrowroot wallcovering makes the traditional architecture look less stuffy.

Living Room

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Toy With Tradition

“I didn’t want to do a classic blue-and-white living room,” says Amanda, who mixed in mustard yellow and cardinal red accent pieces to liven up the blues that anchor the space. She was careful to avoid too-bright colors such as taxi yellow and fire engine red, which would have made the room look like a primary-color wheel.

Master Bedroom

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Try a Range Of the Same Color

Lavender is known to be a calming shade, and Amanda used it to good effect in the master bedroom. Pale lavender appears in the lamp shade and sheet set, while a deeper amethyst hue adds kick to the bed upholstery and accent pillows.


Photo: Jonny Valiant

Incorporate Pops of Bright Color

Chocolate brown, which is often reserved for formal living rooms and dens, is right at home on the screened porch, especially when it’s accented with hot pink. “If you use bright tones in small details, such as contrasting piping and patterned accent pillows, they add a subtle, elegant punch,” says Amanda.

Amanda Nisbet

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Get This Look

Designer: Amanda Nisbet (pictured), Amanda Nisbet Design; 212/860-9133.
Architect: Rocco J. Lettieri; 631/288-4636.
Paint: Foyer walls in White Dove, TV room walls in Tequila Lime, living room walls in White Dove, master bedroom walls in Spring Iris, and porch  ceiling in Blue Angel; Benjamin Moore.
Breakfast Nook: Striped pillow fabric, Osborne & Little.
Foyer: Skirted table fabric, Quadrille. Chair fabric, Phillip Jeffries Ltd. Lantern, English Country Antiques. Sconces, Moth.
TV room: Sofa, Donghia. Pod seats, Andrew Martin. Coffee table, West Elm.
Game room: Table, Crate & Barrel. Chandelier, Treillage; 212/988-8800. Wallcovering, Phillip Jeffries Ltd. Seating cubes, Albert Menin Interiors; 212/876-3041. Cube fabric, Stroheim.
Living room: Sofa, John Rosselli. Sofa fabric and curtains, Rogers & Goffigon Ltd.; 212/888-3242. Yellow zigzag pillow, English Country Antiques. Ikat pillows and throw, Fishers Home Furnishings. Side tables, Mecox Gardens. Lamps, Christopher Spitzmiller, Inc.
Master bedroom: Headboard fabric, AM Collections; 212/625-2616. Bedding, Leontine Linens. Table, Mecox Gardens. Lamp, Simon Pearce. Purple throw pillow, Fishers Home Furnishings.
Porch: Sofa and chair, Walters Wicker. Coffee table, vintage. Lamp, Oly. Throw, Brahm’s Mount. Basket lantern and silver shaker, Mecox Gardens. Red pot, Lars Bolander NY. John Robshaw large print pillows, Fishers Home Furnishings.

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