Its kitchen cabinets were golden oak, the walls, appliances and counter tops white. The kitchen had a pass-through to the living area. Its carpet was gray berber. I was not terribly fond of the overall look, I must say. It felt unattractive and cold to me.
Before I moved in, I recarpeted the living room, bedroom and loft floors in a textured sand color that reminded me of the nearby beach. I also painted the walls throughout the condo a soft green. I was stunned how much better those oak cabinets looked against the green walls than they did against the previous white. Then I realized why.
Mother Nature gave oaks green leaves. The two colors pair together in nature, so they pair together beautifully in home design, too. Oaks lose their leaves in the winter, which made the white walls look stark and unnatural against the golden wood. (Yes, you'll find bare oaks rising from a snowy forest floor, but you'll rarely find them silhouetted against a white sky!)
If you're wondering about the green walls paired with the sand carpet, imagine trees and bushes edging the beach and you'll see why they, too, worked.
I'm convinced that Mother Nature is the preeminent designer of any era. Colors you find together in nature will pair well together in your home or garden. Use the natural world for guidance and inspiration and you'll never have to ask yourself, do these work?
All photographs (c) Steve Barrell