In otherwise all-white or monochromatic interiors, colors tend to stand out — especially red. There are two splashes of paint in this living room, but only one is architectural. The red column really accentuates how it's separate from the planar elements (walls, floors, ceiling, window).
Great places to apply color are hallways and stairs, which chart our movements through a house. Red, for example, equated with excitement and intensity, can heighten our energy when moving from room to room. In this example, the red guardrails accentuate the color in the stairway.
Given the activity of cooking, red is also appropriate for a kitchen, a space ripe for color through the use of backsplashe tiles. This kitchen contrasts some nice red tiles with light wood cabinets. The white grout keeps the red from being overwhelming.
The yellow house in my earlier ideabook achieves its color through plywood panels, which are extended inside to great effect. The material covers the walls and ceiling in the living room, and even the window and door frames match to accentuate the warmth.
The aptly named Blue Pickle Loft offers some good lessons for using colors inside. Smaller spaces within a large, raw loft interior are articulated through blue walls and ceilings below the concrete slab. The effect is that of a blue pickle inserted into the loft.
The plan illustrates the long series of rooms running diagonal to the exterior wall, a result of the awkward stepping of the parallel demising wall. Not only do the blue spaces float in the middle of the apartment, but they create interesting tapered spaces alongside.
The owners opted for a single color throughout, but I could see many other possibilities: a gradient of light to dark from one side to the other or different colored walls for each space, unified by a ceiling or soffit of one color. The loft is a testament to a strong idea of a zone of color within a raw and gray space.
What about floors? you might ask. Well, rugs aren't the only canvases for color, as this New England house shows. A subflooring material was painted a light blue for the children's bedroom and play space. Not only does the blue stand out from the white walls, but it reinforces the importance of this plane for kids. (My daughter plays with everything on the floor.)
As already mentioned, spaces where you travel though a house are ideal for color, heightening the movement from point A to point B. This includes treads and risers, as in this Swedish house, where the color abstracts the surfaces and makes them especially playful.
Not surprisingly, the green of the "abstracted farmhouse" included in my earlier ideabook extends to the inside. The light green is pleasing, but this view also shows how color and simple furnishings (an abstract assemblage of storage in this case) can work together to create some strong silhouettes and patterns.
Like the kitchen, the bathroom is ripe for color, because tiles are often used for showers and other wet areas. Again we're looking inside the "abstracted farmhouse." The green walls and floors are selectively used in this shower, making a strong statement at the end of an in-bathroom corridor.
Modern interiors work best when minimalist surfaces are set against natural materials with their own color and the occasional splashes of artificial color. Such is the case with this house in France, where green is used selectively throughout — on the entrance millwork (shown), living room shelves and even for a Murphy bed.