The Best, Most Unexpected and Creative Uses of Color We Saw This Year

published Nov 24, 2022
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Credit: Andrew Bui

Yes, you can certainly paint every wall in your home a different color, but there are lots of other ways to inject your favorite hues into your space. From bright murals, to poppy details like painted door frames and radiators, color can live in basically any part of your home, if you’ll have it. If there’s anything the house tours of 2022 reminded us, it’s that if you love color, you should be surrounded by it, regardless of your home’s owned or rental status. Below, 14 of the most inventive, playful, and clever uses of color spotted from AT house tours, so you can take a page out of this vibrant book for your own home.

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1. Layered Murals Abound

Not just your every day arched mural, the masterpieces on the walls in Megan Low’s Berlin home are a key part of the home overall, not just an accent. “Murals and custom furniture have become a central aspect to all of my designs,” Megan says. “I love designing and painting murals all around my home. It brings in color and pattern play in a most original and unexpected way.”

2. Red Pipes for a Pop

This bright and colorful Mumbai apartment is home to three generations of family, and with multiple personalties and styles, the family hired designers Kasturi Wagh and Vineet Hingorani of kaviar:collaborative to help design the apartment in a way that worked for everyone. One of the boldest choices the designers made was to emphasize three pre-existing red pipes in the space. “They had a certain dynamic and distinct quality to them,” Wagh and Hingorani said, “which we felt had the potential to be exaggerated. These are visually replicated to form a series of red pipes flowing across the ceiling and walls to form functional elements like seating in the dining space, open shelving for artifacts, and a lighting feature branching through the living and dining spaces. This element is what gives the space its fun, whimsical characteristics and we definitely had a lot of fun designing it!”

Credit: Andrew Bui

3. Not a Neutral Piece in Sight

Haley Boyko has put together a vibrant, primary-colored home in Long Beach, California, for her, her boyfriend, and their three dogs to enjoy. While many of the walls in the loft are painted, Haley primarily adds color through each and every piece of furniture and decor — there’s not one neutral item in sight. “I really, truly believe that colors can affect your mood, and waking up in a bright, colorful space makes me happy every single day,” Haley says, and “my landlord here gave me a lot more freedom to go ham with the paint, etc., which was amazing so I definitely took advantage of that!”

4. Neon Pink Painted Kitchen Appliances

Hate your old, white fridge? Just paint it like Adora did in her glamorous, opulent home in Nashville, Tennessee. This is her proudest DIY, as well. She says that she “had no idea how anything was going to turn out, but since I already didn’t like how everything looked before, I figured why not try! Then painting my kitchen cabinets really pulled everything together and I am so happy with the way it all looks now!”

Credit: Jason Rampe

5. Cow Print Cabinets, Blob Rugs, Squiggly Arches

Tay is a set designer, builder, and DJ, so it should come as no surprise that her Brooklyn apartment is decked from top to bottom in fun, saturated design choices. “My style is whatever brings me the most ease and peace at that moment, she says, and “right now it’s colors, colors, and more colors!” This certainly rings true in the kitchen and dining area, which features cow print cabinets, fluffy pom pom art, a pink and cobalt mural, and a bespoke “blob” rug. “One of the very first concepts I had ideated for my space was a dining area that featured a portal melting onto the floor,” Tay says. “Because I only wanted to paint the wall and not the floor itself, I started brainstorming alternative materials. Abstract ‘blob’ rugs came to mind to display the ‘melting effect,’ but the market price of them did not match my budget at the time. Instead, I decided to try and make one myself and it worked!”

Credit: Erin Derby

6. A Dedicated Pastel Scheme

Maitri Mody and her pug, Ari, live together in this apartment with the coziest collection of pastels on the Upper West Side. “Color is my biggest inspiration and starting off point,” Maitri says, since she grew up in Mumbai, “surrounded by colors and chaos.” “My aesthetic is far from minimal,” she adds. “I would say my style is girly maximalism. I moved into this apartment after separating from a 10-year marriage and starting off on my own. So, I wanted it to be happy, cheerful, and positive. I think I have managed to create that.” Sticking to a pastel color scheme helps the home feel cohesive and not cluttered, a difficult feat in a small NYC apartment.

Credit: Zach Stovall

7. Rainbow Stairs and a Yellow Ceiling

The Miami condo of Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon is chock-full of happy colors and personal touches, but the focal points of the home are definitely the rainbow staircase and yellow ceiling. “I ADORE my rainbow staircase,” she says, “I originally planned to paint the metal stairs and bannisters the same yellow as the ceiling, but there was an issue getting the paint in that hue. So I ended up leaving it the original black and applying a spectrum of adhesive decals on the risers instead. Now the stairs are a real focal point, and if you come to visit, you can’t leave without taking a photo on the stairs.”

8. Cobalt Blue French Doors

It’s already a dream to have a spacious NYC apartment with plenty of natural light and character, but Anna Brettschneider highlighted the charm of the space even further by painting the French doors a vibrant cobalt blue. The airiness of the doors also lend to the overall flow of the apartment, since Anna says the functions of all the rooms tend to blend together.

9. A Pop of Color on the Radiator

Most of the time, you’re more likely to want your radiator to blend in with the walls and fade into the background, but in Joanne McCauley’s colorful northern Ireland home, blending in is the last thing that’s happening. Joanne painted a traditionally-designed radiator cover in Valspar’s “Bee Orchid” making it a focal point and more of a console table than simply a cover-up.

Credit: Erin Derby

10. Painted Floating Shelves & Washi Tape Murals

There’s so much to see in Jessica Stempel’s NYC rental, but her clever rental-friendly ideas for adding color where there wasn’t any before are perhaps the most inspiring thing about this space. For example, instead of hanging plain white or wooden shelves, she opted for rainbow floating shelves, and to dress up stark white walls, she created geometric murals from washi tape.

11. Color Blocking in a Small Space

Just because a home is small, doesn’t mean you have to limit color, as expertly proven by the gorgeous 450-square-foot home shared by Sofie Hepworth and her family of four. She made sure the small home has plenty of color thanks to color blocking, creating planes of color to help delineate different functional areas in a mostly open space. Combined with bold furniture choices, the whole result is a home that doesn’t shy away from being vibrant.

Credit: Champagne

12. A Colorful Furniture Flip

The above photo isn’t even the half of what mural artist, Champagne, can show off in her Los Angeles home, but it is a great example of injecting color through furniture as opposed to the more obvious choice of wall paint. She actually found this piece on the side of the road, and decided to turn it into a bar area for the living room. “I sanded the two pieces,” she explains, “painted them so they matched, replaced the hardware and took old Gucci wallpaper (I scored from someone who was just throwing it away!) and put it inside the cabinet. It was so much fun to take something so shabby looking and transform it into a custom Gucci bar (for basically nothing!)”

13. Wood Molding and Vintage Colors

Just because a home has traditional and original details (like crown molding and dark wood trim), doesn’t mean it needs to be void of modern style and personal preferences. India and Jerome’s Cincinnati, Ohio, home is a testament to infusing your own style into a more traditional space. Their inspiration? “The kids’ section (they have the coolest stuff), radical design, and ‘The Price is Right’!”

14. A Pink Fringe in the Kitchen

Long relegated to solely being used for party decoration, Sophie instead used shiny metallic fringe in her UK’s home’s kitchen. The result is an incredibly unexpected addition that adds vibrancy and color.