3 Unexpected Color Combos from Small/Cool NYC that Are Perfect for a Calm, Cool, and Collected Room

published May 5, 2022
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living room with muted tone colors, a mix of classic french pastoral style with some modern touches
Credit: Rikki Snyder

When you think of soothing colors — and tranquil design in general — you might initially envision cool hues like blues and greens in more minimalist spaces. As this year’s Small/Cool NYC designers demonstrate though, warm tones and even monochrome color schemes can create a calming backdrop, too! With their rooms as inspiration, here are three unexpectedly soothing color combinations to try out in your home.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Warm Wood Tones with Pops of Bronze, Rose, and Espresso

Look no further than designer Christiane Lemieux’s “Modern Archival” Small/Cool NYC room to see just how serene warm colors can be. Lemieux rooted her classically curated space in wood tones by covering the walls in Innovations Norwegian Wood Wallpaper (NW-012) (True story: It’s really wallpaper, not wood!) and incorporating pieces like the burl wood Avenir Desk and cerused European oak Richard Shelves, both from Lemieux’s Lemieux et Cie line. Additional weight and depth come by way of espresso (she painted the molding in BEHR’s Espresso Beans (PPU5-01), bronze (in the accessories and drapery), and rose (through the upholstery and Minted abstract art). 

Credit: Rikki Snyder

The Greens, Auburns, and Neutrals of Nature

Imagine taking a trip to a quiet, cozy English country house. Feel relaxed yet? That’s exactly the look and feel that designer Julieta Alvarez achieved in her “Pastoral Charm”-themed living room design. You can invite that countryside calm into your own home by similarly incorporating nut-colored neutrals, like the almond-colored Apt2B sofa she chose; dusty greens, which you’ll find via the wainscoting painted in BEHR’s Heritage Park (PPU12-18); and autumnal auburns, such as the velvet upholstery on the Burke Decor armchair she used. “Incorporating timeworn elements, floral patterns, and the colors of nature into your interiors creates that relaxing vibe of a weekend getaway in the country,” Alvarez says.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

An Array of Blacks and Whites

Another soothing — and surprising — color combo: high-contrast creams, blacks, and dark browns. Through his “Wanderlust Fulfilled” room at Small/Cool NYC, designer Miles Willis McDermott demonstrates, as he puts it, “how to transform your living room into the badass ethereal music video of your dreams.” McDermott’s designs are all about dichotomy, and so while some aspects of this room are more stimulating, others — such as the monochrome Spoonflower cloud wallpaper, iconic Kardiel tiered sofa, and art accents made with BEHR’s Spray Paint in Black Flat — are transporting and otherworldly.

Small/Cool NYC is a shoppable, in real life and digital home design showcase full of decorating tips and tricks from your favorite designers. Visit us from April 22 to May 15, 2022, on weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) from 11 am to 7 pm ET at 515 Broadway in Soho, New York City. Check out our event schedule and the whole virtual experience online at and follow along on Instagram @apartmenttherapy. Thank you to our sponsors BEHR® Paint, Toyota Corolla Cross, Ashley, Yogi® Tea, and Chasing Paper for making this experience possible.