Stephanie Hunt of @flairhunter is one of my favorite people for many reasons but mostly because she loves to laugh, thinks about her style choices in a similar way to her interior decorating decisions and most importantly she can rock a pair of marigold colored jeans! Not only is Stephanie fearless with color she also has a great sense of humor that she brings to her well designed spaces and has a refreshing lightness of being that comes across the very first time you meet her. Truly, I was content to visit with her all day!
Stephanie is a highly sought after interior designer with an eye for the unique. I asked her recently to tell us about how she thinks about color when designing spaces so that we can all channel a little of that happy into our own homes.
Q: Stephanie, Clearly, you are very comfortable working with bright colors. Where does your color sensibility come from?
A: One could argue that I was powerless over this as my mother was a slightly zany, abstract expressionist painter in the 1960s-80s; an era of MORE IS MORE. My earliest memories are of homes and studios with enormous canvases [sometimes greater than 6 feet tall] filled with splattered palette knives, brightly smudged easels and tubes of oil paints in turquoises, fuscias, happy yellows, moody blues, and so on. The texture of sand and the gleam of gold leaf were occasionally mixed in with the explosion of vibrant colors. A friend once said ‘A blender with the top off’ which describes my mother’s art studio. My most vivid memories are of the oils, watercolors, tapestries that filled my parents home and their friends homes—even more so than the events that took place in those homes all over the world. [Directly below: Paintings by Unni Wood, Stephanie's Mother]
Q: Is it challenging to move your clients toward bright color in their homes if it is something they have not done before?
A: The homes I live in and design for others have a way of celebrating my tendency to embrace strong color. I also fully understand that achieving it for others, or nudging them to do it for themselves, can sometimes be a tall order. Color can feel scary, some say or an expense that feels risky. Too much, too loud; a potential hot mess! A home that makes me want to know more about the person/people living there is so much more interesting than wanting to know the name of their designer. My clients hire me to help them achieve this in their own personal spaces. I see my clients more so as my partners, collaborators, co-conspirators. We have a LOT of fun, coloring and collecting the things for their world.
Q: Stephanie, your house is playful and colorful while still being sophisticated and elegant. Could you give us a few ideas of how we could enliven our own living spaces through the use of color?
A: Yes, I have quite a few ideas on the subject! Grab a cup of tea and read on!
1. Think of color as confidence, character and energy. Color is your personal flair. We all have certain colors that resonate with us. What are yours? If you love that deep aqua color in your favorite blouse what if you found a similar color for throw pillows on your sofa?
2. Don’t be afraid. You don’t need the entire rainbow of color. A room that is well done in neutrals or even blacks and whites can suddenly be made more interesting and lively with the simple addition of ONE color. Upholstering a pair of chairs in a vibrant color like marigold linen, grass green chenille or Chinese red velvet is sophisticated, lively and unexpected. Hang a small painting or framed print that includes the smallest suggestion of that same color and you’ve suddenly made the room more interesting. Start with small steps of adding color and I bet you keep going.
3. Plants. Never underestimate the power of green. It is magic in my book. Mother Nature [or God’s, work with me here] perfect, clean, happy, magical color. Green goes with everything. I cannot put red next to everything but I can put it with green. By adding pops of green in the form of plants [ or succulents], green pillows, or even majolica plates you enliven the space.
4. Choose something you love and start with that as your inspiration. My favorite thing to start with is a painting [shocker]; pulling colors from within the painting for the room I am working on. The colors in that painting might inform the tulips I buy from Trader Joe’s or the pillows I’m buying or making for the sofa, even an enormous bowl of a single fruit—think lemons, apples, grapefruit on the kitchen island all add pops of color. I once found the most perfect little oil painting of a piece of toast with a pat of butter. Odd, maybe, but so interesting that I ended up pulling the yellow from the butter, the silver from the frame and the chocolate velvet color from the toast itself. That painting informed the palette of the space.
5. Another great way to get rolling with color is to begin with a great solid or patterned rug. Instead of the painting on the wall informing the direction of the room let the color underfoot be the project driver. Adding solid color pieces around the room and allowing the colorful rug to be the hero in the space.
6. Color does not mean pattern. Some people think that they do not like color but they are confusing it with pattern. Or they don’t like multiple colors within a pattern because they think it is too loud or too busy. Not to generalize but I have found more men feel this way. My husband, case in point! God love him. In fact, I fell in love with him because he had framed Diebenkorn prints in the bedroom of his beat-up surfer apartment when he was just out of college. [Diebenkorn prints! Seriously! We were destined to be together!] He loves color but the second I introduce a multi-color pillow or fabric or wallpaper for our home he looks at me like I’m a swarm of bees. Taking one color and using it in a pattern with just black or with just grey, taupe or white, is easier to achieve and to live with for many people. **Do not confuse all of that with the idea that I shrink from pattern, I love it!
7. Color from books and book spines. I am a sucker for a whole library of books. Shelved top to bottom, floor to ceiling when possible. The assortment of color on the spines of the books create their own art form and add character to the space. Like a tapestry of sorts or a giant mural of colors and text. Throw a sunshine yellow sofa in the room with a celadon desk lamp and a glass jar of coral tulips. Or any one of those and the space is happy, energetic and interesting with so much flair.
8. Color is youthful. I don’t mean unsophisticated, I mean that in the sense of freshness, openness, willingness to embrace the new. We all knew this when we were young(er), and perhaps we had a more youthful willingness to take on the world. We didn’t overthink it. Sadly, life gets in our head. It has a tendency to make us more fearful, less willing to take risks. And that can make us a little rusty and dusty. Way less interesting, in my mind. Who wants to be around rusty and dusty!? Why not fill our spaces with a big bunch of sunflowers or an overstuffed, white slipcovered sofa with a royal blue or green cashmere throw?
9. Adding color won’t change the world. But perhaps it can be a catalyst for change in other areas. Color can uplift the feeling in a space, it can create an openness to other more youthful ways of living and thinking. Make your home feel more like a colorful, happy accident— full of energy and flair! I’m pretty sure this is my credo, or my way of going through and responding to life.
10. Most importantly, have fun with your living space and surround yourself with colors that speak to you.