Hues You Can Use

There’s nothing shy about interior designer Nancee Brown’s colorful house. From orange to periwinkle, the tones flow seamlessly from room to room. (Photos by Melabee M. Miller)

Life is too short to live in beige,” declares interior designer Nancee Brown, who lives by this mantra in her delightful color-filled Summit home. From the welcoming orange in her foyer to the soothing periwinkle in her master bedroom, the house has a liveliness that is irresistible. “It’s wonderful to have strong color in your life,” she says.

Color has the power to affect your mood, studies show; it can calm and soothe or brighten and enliven. Color also has the power to affect your space. It can add character to a dull room, soften a harsh one and even make a room feel cozy and intimate or vast and impervious. But finding the right color can be a daunting task; after all, the typical paint store carries 3,000 different choices.

Brown and her husband purchased this charming house in 1997 and set about adding color to it, room by room. “It had good bones, a lovely layout and great curb appeal,” she says. “But it was various shades of off-white all through.” Brown specializes in giving her clients’ homes color, so it came as no surprise that she did the same for her own house. The key to making it seamless, she warns, was making sure the base colors work together from one room to another. “The hues have to be complementary—dusty blue with dusty green, for example,” says Brown. “This is often the trickiest part.”

Starting with the bright orange foyer, Brown developed a lively palette that includes cobalt blue, sunny yellow, pale green, deep navy and refreshing periwinkle. Wall color is accented with accessories, artwork, window treatments and rugs. The result is a happy house, one that lifts your spirits.

The key is not to be afraid, says Brown, adding, “Color is so enriching to our lives. It really has an impact.”


Where to Begin

Do your homework: Look through magazines and cut out what you like and don’t like. Attend designer showhouses or visit a paint store for inspiration.

Accessorize: If entire walls seem daunting, add color with throw pillows, rugs, artwork and window treatments. “Every room needs a statement of color,” says interior designer Nancee Brown.

Test-drive colors: Brown suggests starting with paint samples—not just the small chips from the paint store, but a painted-on patch to view morning, noon and night. “Color changes throughout the day, depending on sunlight,” she warns.

Resources to help your color search:

Go Online: There are many websites with easy-to-navigate, hands-on tools to help you select the right colors. One of our favorites: New Jersey’s own Benjamin Moore, the paint giant. Go to and click on Get Inspired.

Download an app: ColorSmart by BEHR—an iPhone application—allows you to digitally decorate by whatever inspires you: the bright blue sky, a friend’s deep-purple scarf. Available on iTunes, or go online to

Nancee Brown Interiors

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