How They Make the Most of Lavender

Thursday, May 3, 2007

"Lavender is really pretty in a modern room with a gray or taupe color," says Sarah Wessel of the District. She prefers lavender wallpaper and fabrics to paint, which she feels can look cold, and she likes to pair lavender walls with a celadon ceiling, and would take a chance with orange: "kind of crazy, but kind of fun."

"Go really pale or really deep," says Chicago designer Anne Coyle. "Avoid midrange because it tends to look childish." She likes it with modern and antique furnishings, gold frames and dark wood. It pairs beautifully with brown, celadon, gray, mustardy yellows, and black and white.

"It's a happy color," says New York's Mario Buatta. "It's a beautiful background for women's complexions -- particularly brunettes." He thinks it pairs well with blue and white fabrics, apricot, pink and green apple. Be careful with yellows, he cautions, and red can be "a little touchy." He offers this paint recipe for the timid: three parts Lavender Ice, one part Polar White (both from Benjamin Moore). And to women whose men won't consider lavender, this advice: "Most men aren't aware of the color of the room they are in. . . . Just don't tell them it's lavender."

Lavender "lends itself to gem colors," such as garnet, sapphire and certain topazes, Washington designer Whitney Stewar t says. She likes to use it with cream and off-white, gray, brown, dusty pink and taupe, and midnight blue and white.

"The best shades are those that have been paled-down, dirtied, weathered," says London designer and author Stephanie Hoppen. "This makes them sophisticated rather than sweet; stylish and never cloying -- and far from dull." Her choice for color companions: amethyst and other darker shades of lavender, creamy colors, all the brown shades, and lime green accents.

"Lavender looks great with platinum, silver and greige, but also can be a fantastic ground for a more exotic color adventure when spiced with saffron, magenta and beet juice," e-mailed New York designer Jamie Drake. He would pair it with black and white, and with dark, antique brown furniture.

Terri Sapienza

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