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Let Cabinets Shine
Barbara Bestor fears no color. The Los Angeles–based architect and designer has reimagined dozens of homes and businesses in bright strokes. And when a client gives her free rein—as was the case when she was hired to renovate this home for a family of four in L.A.’s Los Feliz neighborhood—her palette is particularly fearless.
On the second-floor landing, Barbara Bestor turned a nondescript wooden built-in into a focal point by painting it a gleaming sunny yellow. "A shiny finish makes a piece pop out, adding character to the room," she says. To keep glossy colors from looking "candy coated," as Bestor puts it, she recommends painting by hand. "When high-gloss colors are rolled or sprayed, they can look lumpy or manufactured. You should see the human hand in it, the evidence of the bristles." (You'll need to apply several coats.)
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Use Tile in Unexpected Spots
In the living room, Bestor ripped out the traditional wood paneling and lined the fireplace with a glossy blue tile. The expanse of tile looks modern and adds texture, and in combination with the teal walls, it "creates a kind of nice underwater experience" in the low-light room, says Bestor. A word to the wise: When using a strong paint color like this, you want the walls to be perfectly smooth, without visible bumps or ridges. (So hire someone if you're not sure you're up to the task.) "An irregular finish might give you a woozy feeling," she says.
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Go Graphic with the Flooring
Bright Nicaraguan-tile floors have become a Bestor staple, whether she's working on a private residence or on a coffeehouse. "The tiles have the same traditional craftsmanship as Moroccan ones but are more affordable and have customizable patterns," says Bestor, who used them in two of the home's bathrooms. She also likes the timeless feel of the tiles' clean geometry. "I always think about materials, and I don't install something that someone may want to rip out later," she says.
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Create Some Breathers
In the kitchen, where the family spends much of its time, Bestor used dark wood and graphite gray paint to give the eye a rest from the brighter colors in other rooms. She used this deep gray -- a nod to the house's old New England-style exterior -- on window trim throughout the house to keep the overall look cohesive.
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Mix Traditional Shapes with Bold Paint
In the second-floor bathroom, Bestor had a vanity custom-made to incorporate details from the rest of the home's cabinetry, and then she modernized it with cornflower-blue paint. "In older houses, I like to use traditional details but recontextualize them," she says. Plus, "I like how this cabinet echoes the color pop from the floor."
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Experiment in Small Ways
Bestor reserved the most daring colors for small spaces, such as this butler's pantry painted yellow. Because this is a transitional space, connecting the living room with the den, Bestor used it as a visual guide: The intense color peeking out from around a door frame leads the eye into the next room.
Bumble Bee Yellow paint, by Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
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Adding a bit of color to your decor doesn't have to mean going overboard. Add subtle pops of color to neutral, low-key rooms and furniture with bright accent pieces, like throw pillows, lamps, and fun artwork. This will help liven up the room without making it too loud.
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