Interior Designers Specializing in Color

Liz ODonnell
paint swatches

Any discussion of interior designers specializing in color should begin with the late Sister Parish.

Influence of Sister Parish

Sister Parish was an interior decorator and socialite who was fearless when it came to color. Parish started her own design firm in 1993. The business eventually grew into a Manhattan=based partnership called Parish-Hadley Associates, which was in business from 1962-1999.

Parish may be best known for decorating the Kennedy White House. Her work still exists today in the Yellow Oval Room. Parish used bold color in her interiors. She even painted walls black on occasion and she loved painted furniture. Since Sister Parish was such a prominent figure in society, her influences are still felt in the design community today.

Designing with Color

When Sister Parish was the toast of Manhattan, there was a finite amount of society people who could afford to hire a decorator for their New York townhouses. Today, good design is much more accessible and people with a wide range of budgets are turning to pros for help. At the same time, while design magazines continue to tout earth tones as the hot trends in color and decorating, more and more home owners are getting comfortable with color. If you drive down the street of any suburban town at dusk -when the lights come on and before the shades are pulled-you will see red dining rooms, yellow kitchens, and blue living rooms. Once reserved for only the daring decorators, color is taking over the white wall.

Home décor stores like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel are helping to drive the trend. Their catalogs are filled with vignettes of brightly colored walls and their color choices change as frequently as their stores' inventory. The idea of an "it" color in décor is dead. Perhaps the design industry learned its lesson after all of those avocado-colored kitchen appliances in the 1970s.

Finding Interior Designers Specializing in Color

If you love color or are interested in experimenting with it, how do you find a designer who is comfortable working with bolds and brights?

The best way to find interior designers specializing in color is to check with the Color Marketing Group (CMG), an international, not-for-profit Association of 1,500 Color Designers. While the CMG's main purpose is to identify color trends and work with product manufacturers to translate those trends, the group does hold a semi-annual conference, This event brings together many color enthusiasts and design experts to share ideas. CMG members and staff are a good source for designers who are comfortable working with color.

Another great resource for finding designers who work with color is the local paint stores, especially Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore franchises. The owner of the paint store should be able to tell you who the regular customers are and what kind of products they tend to purchase. This will give you a feel for who is working with color locally.

If you are hiring an interior designer ask to see their portfolio first. While a good designer's portfolio should highlight their clients' vision not their own signature style, their portfolio will show you if they have worked with color in the past. Ask them questions about color. How do they use color to express mood? What are their theories on color in design? Do they use color to enlarge a room or make a large space feel cozier?

Make sure the designer you hire, understands your concerns or comfort with color, and can translate that into a beautiful, inspiring and personal interior.

Interior Designers Specializing in Color