Dealing with Miss Bossy Brick-es: Creating a Color Scheme for a Room

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Creating a Color Scheme for a Room

One of the most common questions we get from clients is how to decide on a color scheme for a room. There are many ways to do this, but the one we’ll tackle today has to do with facing some hard truths: and by hard truths, we’re talking about those hard and fixed (and often quite demanding) elements in your home. These are the things you can’t easily switch out—your hardwood or tile floors, wall-to-wall carpet, counter tops, backsplash, a large brick fireplace, kitchen cabinetry….These guys all demand attention. They can be those impeccably dressed guests at the the party that make everyone stop and stare when they walk in…or, they can be those incredibly obnoxious guests at the party who laugh too loud, double-dip in the hummus, and talk incessantly about how successful they are. Either way, they’re tough to ignore. 

So, rather than try to ignore them and look the other way, you need to embrace them, welcome them into your home, because let’s face it, they’re here to stay…for awhile. 

The Large Brick Elephant (errr..I mean fireplace) in the Room: 

I know, you’re all thinking, “well, can’t you just paint the brick and be done with it?” Yessss, of course! I’m a huge fan of painting brick fireplaces—ours is painted black, I love white too…BUT, many of us don’t live alone. And sometimes other members of the house have opinions on things (don’t you just hate it when that happens?). And a lot of times one of the things people have a strong opinion about is whether or not it’s ok to paint brick or stained wood. Now, I’ve never done a true scientific study on this, but I have a hunch that the majority of people who wouldn’t dare dab a drop of paint on any brick or stained wood also tend to carry the XY chromosome…just a little hunch I have, of course…

At any rate, let’s deal with that big brick facade in your living room. (And please note, If you have a large fireplace surround with beautifully painted woodwork, then in my opinion you are free to ignore the brick and decorate as you wish.)

But, let’s say you have a full wall of brick like this one here: 

Brick Fireplace Wall

You have to contend with the brick. BUT, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring in colors you love. And the funny thing is, if you do it right, then when people enter your living room, they’re going to be wowed by the beautiful colors you’ve brought in, and they’ll hardly notice that the fireplace has so much brick!

O.k., let’s get designing! 

  1. What Color Is Your Brick

Identify the colors in the brick: Here we’ve got orange, orangey-red, and the grout, which is kind of a lightish greige. 

2. What Color Do You Want To Bring Into the Room?

Since this is an actual fireplace in an actual home, I’m going to choose the color the homeowner would actually love to bring into this living room: Blue

3. Find Something You Love That Has Both Colors in It

 O.k., now don’t freak out on my. I’m not going to make you decorate the whole room orange just because of all that orange/red brick. You might very well hate orange, and that’s o.k. But let’s find a patterned fabric for a pillow or arm chair that has a small, tiny detail with orange, maybe a touch of that greige or taupe color and another or color or two that you love that are not yet introduced into the room. For this example, we’re going to be looking for something with blue. And no, don’t worry, I’m not going to decorate the room like the Syracuse Cheerleading team:

syracuse colors

Where do you start looking? Annabel and I like to start with Etsy. There are so many wonderful, small businesses on Etsy that sell unique and beautiful pillows.  We especially love the companies that source textiles from all over the world. Annabel has been stockpiling a list of her favorites and they include a couple that I sourced from for this post: Boho Pillow and One Affirmation.  For the pillow that will lead the design direction for the rest of this room, I selected this Indian block print beauty from Boho Pillow.

Indian Block Print Pillow from  Boho Pillow

Indian Block Print Pillow from Boho Pillow

And guess what? I now have a full color scheme for my room. Let’s see how:

Sherwin Williams Paint Color Matching App

Once I found this pillow that I loved, I needed to pull out the different colors I was working with so I could find coordinating pieces. I used this really fun app from Sherwin Williams. It allows you to upload any photo and you can click on a smidge of that photo and it’ll identify paint colors that are close to it. Is it foolproof? No. But it’s a great way to kind of dissect a pattern fabric or a vibrant vintage rug and suss out exactly which colors you’re dealing with. So, here’s what I came up with using this pillow and the app:

The room’s color scheme

The room’s color scheme

We have kind of a burnt ember, cinnabar color (that’s of course also repeated in the brick of the fireplace). A deep navy, a warm greige or off-white, and a deep charcoal almost-black. Now that I’ve got my colors, I can work them throughout the room.

We already have more than enough orange in the room with all that brick and now the detailing in the pillow, so I’m going to focus on bringing in more of the blue and off-white. I might paint the woodwork and walls in this room SW Westhighland White, nice off-white, greige that will work nicely with the grout of the fireplace. It’s fresh and modern and warm.

SW Westhighland White

How to Choose Coordinating Pillows

The fun part is bringing in more blue. First I found some other pillows that worked well with the floral block print. This can really take some practice and some playing around with patterns. Since I already had a floral pillow with blue, orange and black in it, I followed this recipe:

One floral + one geometric + one solid color

Dark Blue & Cream Geometric Pillow from O ne Affirmation

Dark Blue & Cream Geometric Pillow from One Affirmation

This dark blue and cream pillow cover from One Affirmation fit the bill!

Next I looked for a solid dark blue pillow that didn’t clash with the blues in either of these pillows. Always tricky when shopping online, so if you’re questioning whether things will match, request a sample from the shop owner (if it’s not one-of-a-kind) or additional photos before purchasing. The other thing I love about Etsy is the shop owners are so responsive and helpful. I love dealing with real, live human beings!


One Affirmation sells this gorgeous African indigo pillow with a touch of textured detailing that I love. A little texture always is a great thing! I also like the idea of adding in a lumbar pillow with the other squares.

African Indigo Pillow from  One Affirmation

African Indigo Pillow from One Affirmation

So, I’ve got my pillows:

Pillows and Color Scheme

I’m going to add in a relaxed Belgian Slope Arm sofa from Restoration Hardware:

RH Belgain Slope Arm Sofa

Next I found two arm chairs that I’ve been eyeing for a long time. I love them! They’re the Linwood Armchairs from Selamat Designs. Now, the cushions come in a basic linen fabric, but to keep your space looking unique and personalized, I’d recommend getting the cushions re-covered in a fantastic print that you love! That’ll make your room feel all the more special, and all the more you. And, in a chair with loose cushions like this, it’s far less expensive to have them re-covered than if you were upholstering a full-fabric chair.

Because of the global textiles on the small pillows we’re using in the room, I wanted to find something with a global flair in a large scale print. I played around with a bunch of great fabrics from the China Seas collection from Quadrille. Here are some of the renditions I toyed with:

You’ll see which one I went with in the final moodboard. The other thing I love about these chairs is the bamboo and rattan detailing subtly repeats the orange-y colors of the bricks without being “in your face.”

Finishing Touches

The Coffee Table

Orange and Red bricks look great with a splash of black in the room (just don’t go too Halloween-y on us). So I included this black round coffee table from Noir:

The Rug

If you know us at Trim, you know we looooooove vibrant, patterned vintage rugs! But for this room, with so much happening with the brick and the patterns I brought in, I had to lay low with the rug. I liked how this one from Annie Selke worked with the rest of the design:

Annie Selke Sisal Rug

Accent Piece

I wanted to add one final accent piece that again touched on the orange. I thought some of the Burmese lacquerware might work because it typically has kind of a brick-red cinnabar tone with touches of black. Plus, we really do love adding pieces from all over the globe into our designs. I liked how the round shape of this antique betel box from Traveled Treasures echoed the shape of the coffee table and thought it would be fun to display on the coffee table or somewhere else in the room.

Antique Burmese Betel Box from  Traveled Treasures

Antique Burmese Betel Box from Traveled Treasures

And, the end result?

Color Scheme Moodboard Brick

What do you think? Can this homeowner successfully incorporate blue into her living room? I think so, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas as well!

Thank you so much for stopping by to read!

—Jen































































































































































You have to contend with the brick. BUT, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring in colors you love. And the funny thing is, if you do it right, then when people enter your living room, they’re going to be wowed by the beautiful colors you’ve brought in, and they’ll hardly notice that the fireplace has so much brick!


















O.k., how do we do this, you ask? 




















































  1. What color is your brick?


















Identify the colors in the brick: we’ve got orange, orangey-red, and the grout, which is kind of a lightish greige. 




















































2. Find something you love…that has that color in it


















 O.k., now don’t freak out. I’m not going to make you decorate the whole room orange just because of all that orange/red brick. You might very well hate orange, and that’s o.k. But let’s find a patterned fabric for a pillow or arm chair that has a small, tiny detail with orange, maybe a touch of that greige or taupe color and another or color or two that you love that are not yet introduced into the room.


















Where do you start looking? Annabel and I like to start with Etsy. There are so many wonderful, small businesses on Etsy that sell unique and beautiful pillows.  We especially love the companies that source textiles from all over the world. Annabel has been stockpiling a list of her favorites and they include a couple that I sourced from for this post: Boho Pillow and One Affirmation.  This pillow I chose fro