Having grown up near the ocean in Cape Cod, Rebecca Atwood has always had a love for color. She went on to study fine arts at the Rhode Island School of Design and eventually opened her own homegoods business, Rebecca Atwood Designs, in Brooklyn. She has also published two design guidebooks, Living with Pattern and Living with Color.
Her mission in her business and guidebooks is to inspire people to not be afraid of incorporating color and pattern into their homes. Taking into account all of her personal and professional experiences in interior design, she has a few simple tips for people looking to get started in refreshing their space with color:
1. Start with a mood and look for inspiration first
Rebecca recommended preparing beforehand by thinking about what kind of story you want to tell when redesigning a space. “I think that one of the first things to do when you’re thinking about incorporating color into your home is to think about the mood that you want to create,” Rebecca explained. “I would start by thinking about that and thinking about places that you’ve been that feel that way.”
A color story isn’t only about one hue, however. She advised using different tones that help bring your vision together cohesively. “Sometimes what people do is they go in and they add these pops of color, but it doesn’t feel connected because it’s white against a color,” she added. “You need these intermediate colors or these connector colors to tie that story together.”
“In my book, we talk about going on a color hunt and figuring out your colors, so that’s a really important part — figuring out what you like and what you’re drawn to, and then from there it’s building color palettes,” Rebecca noted.
2. Know that color is personal
“I do think it’s personal, so it is important that you kind of learn what colors you are drawn to and think about that,” Rebecca said. She stressed that making a space feel comforting to you depends on what you personally like. Light colors feel airy and breezy, midtones feel comforting and cozy, and darker tones feel moody and dramatic, she explained.
“It’s sort of like what does comfy and cozy mean to you? Does it mean warm and kind of like a hug? Because then those midtone colors can be really important,” Rebecca said. “But it might be that you feel your best when you actually feel like there’s something like a moodier or darker space or something that feels breezy and airy.”
3. Layer colors and tones
One of the mistakes people often make in regards to color is not going far enough, she explained. “Sometimes it’s just adding in one color when actually you want to add in more than just one simple color, thinking about variations of one tone,” Rebecca said. “Sometimes I think people dip their toe in and then they’re like ‘oh, I’m not sure’ and then actually you need to just keep going and keep adding a little bit more.”
4. Color can affect your mood
“I think that there is a lot of research that does show that color has a really strong impact on your well-being and the level of joy you have,” Rebecca said. She recommended the book Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee as a starting point for understanding how color can affect your life. “I think that’s a really nice way to think about adding in joy to your life through aesthetic things that we often do dismiss.”
What you need can also change based on the point in your life that you’re at or how you’re feeling overall, and adding in certain colors or hues could impact that. “Do you need more nature in your life? Like adding green. Or is it winter and you feel like you could really use some sunshine and you want to add in more yellow,” Rebecca described.
“With the book, one of the main messages I want to get across is that it is personal, and so I think you’re much more likely to be happy with the colors if you spend some time discovering what ones you really like,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca hopes that her new book, Living with Color, serves as a long-term reference guide for people to enjoy. “I hope that it will become sort of something that people return to over time and it is something where you could read it cover to cover or you could return to different parts of it.”
She also hopes that people can use it as a tool for understanding color on a deeper level and how to use it. Parts one and two of the book go in depth exploring what color is and how it works. “It helps you understand why color is the way it is and what the language of color is. So I hope people will read that and become informed but then continue to find inspiration depending on where they are in their life. Are you just looking to redo a room, are you looking to just add in a few accents, are you just looking to discover more about yourself — I think you can do all of that with this book.”