The design pros at U+B Architecture & Design started — like many of us do when decorating a room — with a favorite color.
“We just like blue,” said principal Paul Udris, explaining his Minneapolis firm’s choice of hues for the room vignette it designed for next week’s American Craft Show in St. Paul.
“It’s a really versatile color,” Udris said. “It works with so many environments. It can be electric or calm and subtle.” And blue also happens to be a color used in U+B’s logo, the better for branding.
The U+B team’s modern blue living room is one of four vignettes that will be on display during the annual show as part of the “Make Room: Modern Design Meets Craft” exhibit.
As in recent years past, designers were challenged to design a room inspired by a few handcrafted pieces of furniture and artwork, to show craft in the context of a home. This year, however, designers also were asked to choose a favorite color or combination of colors to inspire their vignette.
In addition to U+B’s modern blue living room, you’ll see a green-inspired bathroom by construction2style, an orange and turquoise sitting room by Susan E. Brown Interior Design and Aurora Decorative Finishes, and a yellow room by Wheaton Hushcha Design.
U+B’s room was inspired by five craft pieces, three by local artisans, including a branch-legged end table by Kevin Costello of Stillwater, stained-glass artwork by Josephine Geiger of St. Paul, and art photography by Natalie McGuire of St. Paul. A lamp by a Chicago artist and nested ceramic bowls by a Colorado artist also will be on display in the room.
“All the pieces have decorative aspects that are part of the design, not just appliqués,” said Udris.
Once the pieces were selected, the team chose a soft pale shade of blue as the backdrop for the room to highlight the art. “We didn’t want to overpower the pieces,” Udris said.
To complement the craft pieces, U +B architectural designers Charles Kennedy and Tiffany Chen did some handcrafting of their own, creating a wall “trellis” made of strips of engineered wood to firm a grid pattern that evokes the firm’s name.
“We started with the plus [sign] motif,” said Chen.
The wood, medium-density fibreboard (MDF), was laser-cut and then attached with slim dowels to form two layers that add depth.
The free-form asymmetrical trellis “leads your eye to the furniture,” said Kennedy. The room includes a modern navy chair, a tall floor lamp and a subtly patterned rug, all from Design Within Reach.
“We decided that simple contemporary furniture would be best,” said Udris. “Anything too baroque would detract from the artifacts.”
The U+B design pros shared their tips on working with color to craft an artfully composed room at home:
Limit the number of colors in a room. Choose one hue as your primary “field” color for walls, then one or two more accent colors, said Kennedy. “A subtle field is usually better than a bright, bold color.” Save those vivid hues for the smaller accent pieces.
Take color cues from objects you want to showcase. “Look at the pieces you want in the room,” said Udris. “Play off things you have, instead of just picking a nice color.”
Test paint colors on the wall. “When you’re picking room colors, always buy small quantities of the colors, and put big swatches on the wall, rather than picking from paint samples,” said Udris. That will give you a much truer picture of how the color will look in your space and your light when it’s filling an entire room. “Colors tend to be much more saturated than you think.”