Magazine article Sunset

Living in Color

Magazine article Sunset

Living in Color

Article excerpt

1 GOTHIC GLAM

ANNIE MAY and Barbie Palomino aren't afraid of the dark side. The Los Angeles designers behind BAM Design Lab (bamtJesignlab.com) jumped into the deep end of the spectrum when a client told them he wanted his downtown loft to have a dash of luxe nightclub style. "He's an artist, musician, and actor, and travels a lot," May says. "He's seen everything, so going dark was a way to be original." '( May and Palomino, aware of most people's fear of black rooms, created a design with a range of finishes in gray. But to their delight, the client told them to go even darker. They complied, covering one U-foot-high wall in the loft's main living space with plates of oxidized metal. The other walls got papered with a contemporary take on Rorschach tests that vacillates between white and black. V What made them take such risks? A gutsy homeowner, sure, but the designers also counted on the high ceilings and light from a wall of windows to make the home "cozy dark, not scary dark," May says. -Joanna Linberg

VARY FINISHES

A wide range of finishes pumps up the monochromatic scheme: The metalplated wall inspired the conical metal art in the dining room; that, in turn, led to a faux concrete media console (above), which begged for "the fluffiest rug we could find" to serve as a foil, says May.

INCLUDE SURPRISES

One color can be onenote, so in addition to varying the materials, the designers added in unexpected accents that would stand out from the sea of black. The printed dining room chairs are one; the text upholstered on the armchair (page 38) is another.

CONTRAST WITH FURNITURE

Once the team decided on a mostly black envelope, they committed to keeping the furniture light for balance. The tufted sofa in white was a musthave to up the glam quotient in the living room (page 37). See-through acrylic chairs lighten up the dining room table.

CHOOSE HEIGHT OVER LIGHT

"It's more important to have high ceilings than it is to have a lot of light," May says. Both are great, but low ceilings can make a room feel closed in, windows or not. High ceilings do the opposite: They mimic an infinite night sky.

DON'T RELY ON PAINT

The design team originally painted the bedroom walls (top left) in charcoal gray, but it looked flat, especially against the ornate custom headboard frame. Tone-on-tone wallpaper with a raised motif brought the interest they were looking for while still letting the neobaroque paper inside the frame shine.

USE ACCENT COLORS WISELY

Red plays a supporting role in the guest bedroom (above left) but in a small wayjust the headboard. With so much drama everywhere else, a rainbow of accent colors is unnecessary, Palomino says. To match the tonality of the wallpaper, they chose a deep berry instead of, say, a cherry red.

2 BOLD BOTANIST

while zach Galbraith was busy unpacking boxes after moving into a Burien, Washington, house in 2006, wife Manda was outside planning the garden. At the time, it was covered in invasive blackberry brambles, English ivy, and weedladen grass. "I wanted something bright," Manda says, "something alive with color." 3 At the nursery, she reached for plants with lime or purple foliage, drawn to the way the complementary colors pop. "Purple is a strong anchor," says Manda, "and there's something about lime that calls me. It's very intuitive." 3 Manda lets all the colors of her garden play together by going easy on maintenance and allowing foliage to overlap. "I don't shear anything," she says. "I prefer things on the soft and relaxed side." 3 Zach executes her hardscape designs, trolling scrap-metal dealers for supplies. He's used rock-sorting grids for a grape arbor and clematis trellis; made flower beds from steel plates; and built a shed and henhouse from cement board, wood, and steel. Gravel around the entries is salted with bright recycled glass. "I love the way it looks wet," Manda says, "like pieces of treasure. …

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