The Power of Color

A bold, coordinated palette creates a cozy vibe and a smooth connection between casual and formal rooms.

It all started with a single swatch of fabric—a vibrant pattern in exactly the colors that Ann Newlin hoped to incorporate in the redecorating of her Sewickley home. A soft green evoked a favorite pair of chairs from the great room that Ann and her husband, Bill, had enjoyed for several years. There was a muted gold, echoing the color of their living room. And there were strokes of a bold red that seemed to tie the other elements together precisely.

“We found that first—the fabric for the drapes in the kitchen and family-room area,” Ann explains, “and it just took off from there.” This fabric, suggested by a designer Tiana Vucina from the Residential Design Group at Astorino, a Pittsburgh-based architecture, engineering and construction firm, was the catalyst that made vivid colors a central element of the Newlins’ year-long renovation and redecoration project.

Bold color, actually, isn’t new for the Newlins. They’ve been ahead of the curve, using vibrant shades years before interior designers made it a current trend. But this unified palette was something they hadn’t experimented with until Astorino’s experts recommended it.

Today, it fills their entire main floor with an appealing energy, conveying “the feeling that you should enjoy yourself here, that it should be fun to be here,” Bill says.

The colors also unite several different spaces. As old walls were knocked down to open up cramped rooms and create the sort of uninterrupted flow the Newlins prefer, the casual great-room area became clearly visible from the more formal living room. In Astorino’s redesign, these rooms are coordinated by color but still retain their individual style.

"It’s comfortable to us," Bill Newlin says of Astorino’s vivid redesign. "To me, that’s the main thing."

The formerly oversized great room, pared down in size and infused with warm shades of gold, red and green, is now cozy and inviting. And the dining room has been amped up even further, with striking red walls and a round table meant to encourage dinner conversation. (The Newlins love to entertain.)

In the kitchen, a small window above the sink was enlarged and replaced with an 8-foot wide sheet of glass, letting in light and maximizing the view of the wooded backyard. The black backsplash was brightened with light tiles, and the breakfast nook became a sunny sitting area.

Even in the main-floor powder room, color reigns. “The wallpaper is so whimsical and fun,” Ann says. “With big prints, you’d wonder if it works in a small space. But it does, and it’s very lively.”

Bill Newlin was impressed with Astorino’s design work, and he loves the finished product. But he credits his wife for knowing exactly what their family needed.

“Ann has quite the flair for this kind of taste,” he says approvingly.