Many items can be a jumping-off point for a room’s wall-color selections. A beautiful bedspread. A treasured painting. A postcard from a far-flung destination. An antique armoire. A twisted piece of driftwood. A vase of flowers.
With the holiday season in full swing, two Midwest-based interior designers muse about Christmas blooms and plants, and how Mother Nature’s incredible hues, shapes and textures can lend inspiration for wall colors and interior spaces.
Minnesota-based designer Mary Rossi recently imagined a contemporary design for a master bedroom based on the ever-pure-and-simple white lily.
“The ornamental or white tiger lily can be a great stand-in for the traditional poinsettia for Christmas,” says Rossi. “It’s clean and contemporary and has a sweet, fresh fragrance.”
The white lily, which symbolizes purity and majesty, also plays a special role in Rossi’s career, as the bloom is inspiration for one of several bowl designs (many in a “snow” hue) from Minneapolis-based Julia Knight , one of Rossi’s clients. Knight designs high-end tabletop entertaining pieces that are available at Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue. Rossi helps Knight with display merchandising and is also the interior designer for Knight’s home.
“I want to use the organic elements of a white lily to create a glamorous master bedroom,” says Rossi.
For starters, the room’s wall colors — 18-inch-wide horizontal stripes in Creamy (SW 7012) and Dorian Gray (SW 7017) in a satin finish — would be reminiscent of wintry gray skies and shimmery snow, not unlike the colors and luster of a snow-hued bowl from the Julia Knight collection.
“Horizontal stripes can make a room seem bigger,” says Rossi, “and create a wow for the space, especially when’s it’s tone-on-tone and the colors are close to one another. Plus, you don’t have to put a lot of artwork on the walls — the walls are the art.”
Rossi envisions the room would have tall ceilings and crown molding. “I would want higher baseboards than standard height, and all woodwork will be painted in Pure White (SW 7005) gloss enamel,” says Rossi.
“The ceiling, in Repose Gray (SW 7015) flat, would be a lighter gray to give the room another visual accent.”
For the curtain panels, Rossi would choose a fabric that’s a combination of light and dark shimmery grays, with a pattern that evokes swirling winds.
With most of the room pushed in a neutral direction, Rossi would add punches of red as her accent color, like a white lily’s richly hued stamens. “Show Stopper (SW 7588) would be my inspiration for the red in pillows, throws and other accessories,” says Rossi.
Rossi’s upholstered headboard would be made of “beautiful, crushed velvet in a polished nickel tone.” Bed linens would be layered and luxe with tone-on-tone neutrals. “I’d take the Show Stopper paint swatch to select a sumptuous red cashmere throw for the end of the bed.”
Centered in the room would hang a white Appalachian Twig Chandelier evocative of snow-covered branches. “It would add that organic element; I love to mix glamor with organic,” says Rossi.
On the wide-planked, espresso-brown wood floor (the dark color grounding the space), Rossi would place a white Flokati rug of 100 percent New Zealand wool. “It would be very fluffy, like freshly fallen snow,” says Rossi.
Nearby, two creamy white leather wingback club chairs with floor lamps on either side would invite reading and relaxation. A requisite throw — silver fox faux fur from inmod.com — would drape a chair. But what are club chairs without an inviting pillow? They’d be adorned with some of Rossi’s custom-made pillows featuring red grosgrain ribbon.
A table would hold a contemporary crystal vase with white lilies, along with some red berried branches. “Punches of red are so holiday and so elegant,” Rossi says.
Rossi would also work a fireplace into the vignette. “It would be traditional and embellished with columns and layers of crown molding and painted Bright White (SW 7007).” A stack of white birch logs would sit nearby.
A Plexi-craft King George-style vanity with icicle-like Lucite legs would pair with a Plexi-craft King George bench at the end of the bed. “The bench would have tufted fabric the same nickel color as the headboard,” Rossi says. Above the vanity would hang a silver sunburst mirror that “makes a huge statement.”
Rossi’s bedside tables would feature silver leaf and Lucite spindle legs. Robert Abbey Odelia clear glass and black shade table lamps do the trick for bedside lighting. A Julia Knight “Lily” bowl in that oh-so-snowy hue enhances this wintry paradise, filled with yuletide ornaments — in Show Stopperesque red, of course.
The classic Christmas plant: the poinsettia or noche buena, which means “Christmas Eve.” Michigan-based interior designer Mary Olk looks at poinsettias the way a watercolor artist blends paint on paper. Colors flow and swirl, creating areas of light and shadow. White poinsettias feature swirls of green and cream, while candy-red poinsettias pop with unexpected flecks of pink and yellow.
Olk’s poinsettia-inspired living room would be awash in Loveable (SW 6590) with a Whitetail (SW 7103) ceiling and trim. The room would feature a puffy, transitional sofa in a color similar to Venus Pink (SW 6560), flanked by lamps with bases the color of poinsettia leaves, similar to Garden Grove (SW 6445). White linen shades with a green-silk cotton lining and trim accent would evoke the poinsettia’s stem.
Sofa pillows would be encased in C.R. Laine’s Bulter Spring 1378 fabric — a floral pattern rich in pinks, greens and salmons. “C.R. Laine products are practical and really well-made,” says Olk. The room’s drapes would be in a textured cream with diamond patterns.
Club chairs would echo the style and color of the sofa, while glass tables with metal legs and a plush white carpet would keep the room airy.
“I want that poinsettia feel all year round,” says Olk. She believes there’s a reason Mother Nature threw pinks, reds, greens and creams together. “These colors look great together and, of course, green and red are natural complements.”
The room’s pièce de résistance during the holiday season would be a collection of large, dark pink poinsettias arranged in varying heights. “I would place them on ceramic ottomans,” says Olk. “When someone walks into this room, they’ll think, ‘Now this is something new and different and fun.’”