It’s almost summer, and in many parts of the world, that means we’ve officially moved out of a long, cold, dark winter and into the color-loving sunshine. This seasonal transition, perhaps more than any other, invites (almost requires!) us to break out the fresh summer colors in our homes, brighten them up, and make them match our live-life-to-its-fullest summertime mindset. The timely advice of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood applies to us as we minimize the bulk and transition our homes into summer: “Buy less, choose well, make it last”.
In this article, we’re going to look at a variety of summer colors and ways you can use them in your interiors this summer. You won’t want to use them all, of course, but perhaps brushing up on each of them will lead you to the summer color palette of your dreams.
Whether the name “crisp white” brings up mental images of fresh laundry drying on the clothesline in the breeze or white-capped ocean waves, the emotion you feel behind the color is probably the same. Crisp white offers an airiness, breeziness, a sophisticated sort of laissez-faire outlook – the kind that perfect summer days are made of. It’s an excellent integration into your favorite summer colors, because, “No matter what color you decide to use for your summer face lift, incorporating white into the theme of the room will give it an extra pop”- Doityourself.
Similarly, a brilliant, dazzling, crisp white will give any space a fresh, scrubbed-down look. To make the color work for the summer season, you can use white as a neutral backdrop, and then accessorize with accent pieces in your favorite colors. You could also go monochromatic, with an all-white color palette, for the ultimate summer chic interior.
Nature-inspired neutrals are at the top of the list for summer colors, and pale ones such as cream are even at the top of that list. Summer emphasizes nature, as we all spend more time outdoors (or, at least, we hope to). Cream is a softer, warmer, slightly friendlier version of crisp white, and although we may not envision bleached whites, we probably think along the lines of friendly linens drying on the line.
Cream feels almost beachy when used in a summer interior palette. This is particularly the case when the color is used with natural textures and textiles, such as slipcovers, linen throws, and/or cotton pillow fabrics.
Of course, lipstick, tomato, and cherry reds are vibrant summer reds that provide an instant sort of summer pep to any interior. Particularly when paired with white, these hues almost burst out. But another, often overlooked, shade of red that’s wonderful for summer color palettes is brick red. This deep, brownish red is more muted than true reds. As a result, brick red is more of a cozy, comforting earth color.
Of course, no matter the shade, when red is used in interior designs in any season, it makes a powerful visual impact. This means the color should probably be used with a restrained hand, and only on objects and furniture that are worthy of the attention (e.g., clean, in good condition, and appropriately styled for the space).
Summer Shade of Pink.
Pink is an interesting color because it has the cultural associations of being feminine, but it goes farther than that. Research goes on to associate pink with the ability to decrease anger and aggression. And if there’s a time in your life that you probably want the world to get along, summer is it. That’s why you’ll be thrilled to know that a summer shade of pink is out there, waiting just for you to use it in your interior design.
Maybe a tropical pink is what you’re after. A bright, cheerful pink embodies the carefree feel of the Caribbean. Or you want to really spice up your space with the energy of summer with hot pink, because it’s not as polarizing as baby pink and easily tones with other colors, according to interior designer Bronwyn Poole. Regardless of the particular shade you go for, pink tends to be a sweet, comforting color. Just think about how you feel when you eat a bubble gum shave ice.
Most citrus-infused colors practically scream, “Summer!” and orange is no exception. If you’re thinking about fresh-squeezed orange juice, a cold mango smoothie, or even a juicy tangerine segment, you’re probably in full-fledged summer mode. Orange provides instantaneous energy in any space. The unique feature of orange, as opposed to many other energetic hues, is that it still has the capacity to feel warm while looking punchy.
For your summer interiors color palette that involves orange, consider mixing different shades of orange for depth and aesthetic appeal. You can enhance the energy with a bit of yellow in the space, or you can soften things up a bit with some pale pink.
While you might immediately think of metallic golden here (which works just fine in the summer, so no worries!), we’re actually looking more at the happy, warm, honey-yellowish version of golden to add to your summer colors. In fact, Honey Yellow is LA-based Dunn-Edwards’ Color of the Year, because of its syrupy and glowing yet again softly desaturated look.
In other words, golden can be paired beautifully with other neutrals, whether warmer browns or cooler greys, and it also sets off metallics. Interiors will be warmer and more vibrant all year, especially during the sunny summer months, with golden shades around. Pair with bright white for your summer palette.
Raise your hand if you’re shocked that yellow would be included in a discussion of summer colors. (We can’t know this, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say: No one in the world is raising their hand right now.) Yellow is the epitome of summer! Adding a bright, sunny yellow into your summer space is like giving it an instant cheerful glow. You can always reign in the brightness with some accent colors, such as orange, blue, green, or even pink.
Even the names of different shades of yellow are summery. Lemon, banana, butternut, honey, all of these and more are just oozing with fresh, easy breezy life. Instead of pairing yellow with another color, you could also make it pop against a softened neutral, such as soft gray or white.
Something about the freedom of summertime, the staying up later, the hanging out, brings out a zest for life that is apparent in neon yellow itself. For many, trendy neon yellow is the ultimate lifter of a bad mood. Of course, “While an entire accent wall of neon yellow might not be for everyone, it’s certainly one way to add a punch or wow factor to your room,” says interior designer Kimberlee Gorsline.
Ideas for adding that punch of neon yellow into your summer interior palette include on lamps, vases, throw pillows, and even a splash or two in some artwork. You could even find it on outdoor furniture and move that inside, for a unique twist on “bringing the outside indoors.” Remember that, for a color this caustic, a little goes a long way.
Chartreuse is an ultimately cheery, delightfully sunny hue that completes the essence of summertime. While it might feel a little overly peppy and/or airy for use on larger furniture pieces, a great way to incorporate the color into your summer décor is to use it on accent pieces, on a smaller scale, such as pillows, throws, and light fixtures.
While we’ve come out of spring into summer, it’s hard to just forget all things spring-like during this new season, and, fortunately, summer colors such as yellow green help us be able to do that. In fact, it’s a year-round phenomenon, this keeping a fresh, bright perspective, especially in light of Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year, “Greenery.” The color was chosen to signify beginnings: a fresh new year, healthier habits, an appreciation of the great outdoors and on the environment.
“There’s a growing desire to reconnect with Nature and what is real, and find ways to disconnect from technology. We need a break. We need to stop and breathe,” says Laurie Pressman, the Pantone Color Institute’s vice president. And so, the yellow green color reflects that sense of unity and community.
It wouldn’t feel like summer without green, from its transition from pale spring green into full-fledged natural growth. Of course, many shades of green make up a wonderful summer palette. The idea behind green is that it mimics the natural world around us, from gardens to grass to trees to wildflower stems. A good idea to make green work in your summer interior is to incorporate different shades of green in different fabrics to copy the variations found in nature.
One of summer’s favorite shades of green is, of course, green grass. The color of summer’s carpet, where we picnic, play baseball, do cartwheels, and lounge. It’s the color of “verdant summer foliage,” and it “mixes well with other summer hues like blue, pink, and yellow, so it’s a great fit for the season,” claims interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn. Use green grass color in your summer interiors by pairing it with plenty of white and natural light so it matches its natural namesake.
Mint is another one of those perfect-for-summer hues. As a flavor, mint is the epitome of summertime in juleps, popsicles, and lemonade. Although we think of it as a cool, almost icy pale greeny-blue, “Mint as a color is a bit undefined. It’s often used to describe a light green, but can at times be applied to blue-ish hues as well” – Ruemag. Whatever your take on the color, its cool, crisp look is exactly what the doctor will probably order on those hot, melty summer days. The perfect interior refresher.
Summer Shade of Aqua.
Aqua, short for aquamarine, is made for summer. When we think of the beach vacation, an ocean cruise, or the typical summertime sand-and-surf venue, the color aqua is playing a major part of those pictures. Adding sea blue to your room will instantly bring the feeling of a lake cottage or beach house to your home.
Taking that mindset one step further, is the fact that, no matter where you live (in the city, in the country, in the desert, in the mountains, or in suburbia), nothing is as inviting as a cool body of water on a summer day. Using a shade of aqua or two in your space will ultimately translate that feeling into your living space, because the cool shade makes us feel that sense of relief and relaxation.
It wouldn’t be summer without a bit of turquoise in our midst – turquoise is even commonly called “the summer shade,” although it’s gorgeous and versatile and therefore works well in any season. Turquoise is a balanced gemstone hue that, truly, stands out in the color spectrum. Rich in blues, and deep in greens, the color is joyful and balanced. It was a treasure among Native Americans and has been embraced globally as a color that energizes with a unique blend of pleasure and peace.
“From aquamarine to teal, there are plenty of colors that broadly fall under [turquoise’s] wing. While you can argue endlessly about the technicalities of which green-blue combination is called what, there is no dispute about the captivating aura of turquoise”- Decoist.
Blue in its truest form is classic, bold, vibrant, and stately. There are so many variations of blue that make it a perfect summer color, though, in a variety of ways. Cobalt blue, for example, is visually impactful without being too in-your-face. Sky blue is serene and expansive – reminiscent of those lazy summer days when you’d lie on your back and just stare up at the sky.
The 2017 Color of the Year for British company Dulux is beautiful, soothing “Denim Drift.” It’s meant to be fresh, versatile, and ultimately representative of the color of our every day. However you incorporate it, blue will make a lovely, fresh, and liberating addition to your summer color palette.
That color that hovers deliciously between blue and grey, slate blue embodies dignity with a twist. Professionalism with personality. The color is saturated but in an understated way. It’s a cooler shade, what with its grey undertones and all, so slate blue does well to mix with something a little warmer for balance.
The cooler aesthetic of slate blue, then, works particularly well with gold and brass accents, which warm it up all around.
Purple was once the color of old ladies; now, it is one of the hottest colors in interior design. In fact, purple is one of the most preferred colors when it comes to home decoration [and is] appropriate for any room in the house. Velvet furniture, soft bedding, lacquered bathroom components, and tinted kitchen cabinets are just a handful of the many options for purple in your summer interior.
Deep purples might be associated with cooler months, but purple is key for summer because it gracefully and easily creates a relaxed, even romantic atmosphere. It’s no coincidence, either, that New York paint company Benjamin Moore has chosen a mysterious, moody amethyst purple color (“Shadow”) as its color of the year for 2017. The color is inspired by the play of light and shadows at dusk, just as the day dissolves into nightfall and tints everything in a violet shade.
Summer Shade of Purple.
Purples run the spectrum from reddish purples (e.g., eggplant) to bluish purples (e.g., periwinkle). So, imagine yourself eating a delicious summer eggplant dish while watching the summer sunset turn the sky a glorious shade of periwinkle, and you’ve pretty much got it all. For heavy duty saturation, dense and dark purples are aesthetically potent and impactful. Conversely, daintier tints of purple, such as lavender, can be subtle enough to work as a “flexible neutral”.
Some common shades of purple used in the summer include lilac, peony, eggplant, iris, and violet. For your summertime palette, consider incorporating complementary yellows or analogous pinks. The 2017 Color of the Year of American-based PPG Paints is actually “Violet Verbena,” a pale yet moody shade of purple that is simultaneously nostalgic, luxurious, and contemporary – WGSN.
Magenta is a vibrant, happy hue that lives somewhere in the pinkish realm between purple and red. It carries with it a carefree, life-loving aura, which makes it a perfect summer color, although interior designer Claire Paquin warns about using it appropriately. “Using a color this intense is easy, but you have to use it sparingly. … You have to make sure it’s spread around the room and doesn’t come out of nowhere” – HGTV.
Magenta also works beautifully outdoors, particularly in the summer, where it will likely be seen against a backdrop of plenty of lush summer greens.
Soft gray is a dreamy, kind of ethereal shade of gray that seems too soft to be real gray but too dark to be white. It just sort of hovers there, in the perfect space betwixt the two neutrals, ready to go and be and do anything for your interior. Soft gray is both classic and versatile, because so many other hues can be perfectly paired with gray. Not only that, the color can lean toward cooler or warmer and, ultimately, look and feel fresh. Which, no shocker here, is what summer is all about.
Grays of all types, including soft grays, are connected with enhanced creativity. Not only that, but the color is flexibly neutral in terms of being a background for other livelier colors (hello, summery tropical pinks!). Soft gray is as at-home in a stoic, traditional space as it is in a contemporary minimalistic one (and, for that matter, a beachside bungalow).
Last but certainly not least in our discussion of summer colors is silver. Silver, because it’s metallic and all, might be more often associated with the wintery holiday glitz and shine. But it is a perfect sheen to amp up the fresh appeal of summertime without going over the top.
Silver, more than probably any other neutral, can quietly play its bright role in the background of a space, while other more vibrant colors take the lead. Which is what summertime likes to see – a team player. Now if we could only channel that mindset to this summer’s sand volleyball team…