I love love LOVE to decorate with color. Lucky for me, gem tones are in and the design world is really starting to embrace the fun and freedom of bold, beautiful, brightly colored spaces. Even high end designers are starting to mix funky, colorful accent tables and accent chests and cabinets into their slightly more somber collections. But these pieces aren’t a free pass – like clothing, a lot of color and brazen patterns can be flattering if they’re done right… or they can be, at best, a little busy, or at worst, tacky. So how do you walk the line and bring a playful, brightly colored accent table into a room and have it be a focal point rather than an eyesore?
If you’re just cutting your teeth when it comes to colorful design, the best way to play it safe is to pick a piece that comes in a solid, bright color. Chests are a good choice for this, because they have enough heft to do the color justice and don’t demand a lot of ornamentation. This Butterfly Cupboard is a pretty, sunny yellow, with delicate butterfly-styled knobs, and makes an excellent breezy, summery addition to a living space. Red, blue, and yellow especially are good colors to start with because they’re bold enough to be attention grabbing, but because they’re primary colors, they blend well with a wider variety of colors than a stronger mixed shade. Yellow is the most subtle, and can warm up almost any decor without overwhelming it, while blue can add a touch of calm and a delicate, airy feeling.
That said, one of the most common choices for a single-color accent table or other piece of accent furniture is red. Considered a lucky color in many cultures, red is easily the most eye-grabbing color, and works better in a room with an otherwise more neutral decor. While yellow and blue are heightened by layers of different shades, a red accent table packs the biggest punch in all its fire-engine glory, no backup needed. Of course, red is also a common color for decorative figurines and other home decor, like this gorgeous red Howe Vase. Adding little pops of the same bright color throughout the room, in addition to your accent furniture, can help give the space a unified feeling, toning down the shock value of the bright color and create a sense of harmony.
It might go without saying that it’s easier to get away with a smaller piece in a bright, bold color than it is to get away with a huge one. Smaller tables emphasize the “accent” in accent table, especially in an average sized room where a larger piece might be a significant sized piece of furniture. I love this Purple And White Striped Side Table for its bold plum-colored stripes and slim, sassy legs. It’s the perfect size for a lamp, vase, or other decoration, and the color is dark enough that you can play down or play up the circus-style stripes. A simple, elegant urn will make the purple all class, whereas something fun and funky, like, say, a Banana Statue will give the room a more playful feel.
If you’re ready to go a step above a single color, but still want a simple, subtle design, look for a piece of accent furniture with simple vertical stripes in two different shades of the same color. The lines can be clean like those on the purple accent table above, or rustic and hand painted like this Nassau Chest. With the latter, you’ll get a much homier vibe – the slightly weathered, antiqued finish gives the chest a slightly “found” appearance that’s perfect for an eclectic style. Once again, chests really shine in this application because the fresh coat of color helps repurpose the piece for a space outside the bedroom, making it a doubly interesting visual focal point (plus a nice bit of extra storage!)
Of course, if you want to go with stripes in more than one color, you’re inching into very bold territory. This Variegated Parlor Chest borrows the venomous colors of the coral snake for a look that’s overtly a little alarming. So how do you turn it from a visitors-beware into a sweet conversation piece? First, make sure not to place it next to any other patterns – you don’t want to mix your stripes with your plaids! – but do find ways to bring out each of the colors in the table throughout your room. This can be as simple as swapping your curtains and your throw pillows or as complicated as repainting, reupholstering, or even getting new carpet, but to make a bold table like this work, you’ve got to make it blend. Do it subtly, though – a room full of stripes in those colors will just be loud, and would diminish the effect of the accent table.
Of course, accent tables come in much more than your standard stripes, spots, and checks. To pull off an especially snazzy color in a fairly traditional room, you’ve got a couple choices. First, you can look to history. This Wesley Chest goes bold in red and gold, but tones the loud colors down a little bit with a slightly weathered finish and a hand painted vintage floral design. While the cherry red finish acts as a big exclamation point, and will make an excellent focal piece, the subtle blue, green, and yellow paint give the piece a homey, cozy touch that will make it fit comfortably in your living space.
This also works, in a slightly different way, with small, repeating, intricate patterns. Sterling Lighting offers quite a few accent tables and cabinets with repeating damask prints, like this Orange Damask Cabinet. These Indian-inspired designs can be printed as a single large sigil covering the face of an accent table or chest, or can be used as a frequently repeated pattern over the whole surface. Like a vintage floral design, the pattern both helps break up the larger color, and gives a finer detail to draw the eye, making your accent furniture subtly more eye catching by making it more intricate.
Finally, sometimes you just have to go bold with your accent furniture. From Zebra Stripes to Rainbow Polka Dots, choosing a really wild (pun intended) pattern is a great way to showcase your personality. Best paired with a limited palette (like black, white, and pink for those zebra stripes!), funky finished accent furniture is a great way to add a little fun and flair to your room. Of course, it takes guts to pull off, but, well, if you’d opt for chests or accent tables done in animal print in the first place, you’ve probably got guts to spare!
What are you looking for in an accent table? Do you prefer tables, chests, or some other kind of accent pieces? Do you have a preferred color or pattern? If you’re still not quite sure what you’re looking for, here are some more accent tables and other accent furniture from Sterling Lighting to get you inspired.