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3 unexpected color tips from designer sara hillery

A pale green sitting area with pink and white chairs/Photography: Kip Dawkins/A bright sitting area pops with pinks and greens.


Sara Hillery knows a thing or two about integrating meaningful pops of color into her projects. Recently named to House Beautiful's list of emerging Next Wave designers, the Richmond, Virginia–based pro shares some of her tried-and-true tips for wallpaper and paint... plus, some thoroughly envy-producing pics of her latest projects.

White kitchen with pink ceiling/Photography:Sara Hillery Interior Design/Forget an accent wall; how about an accent ceiling?

Go bold on a budget. 

"Paint is an inexpensive way to make a big impact and go bold. You can always change the color if you don’t like it," says Sara.

A pale blue and white dining room with chandelier/Photography: Sara Hillery Interior Design/A pale blue ceiling serves as an accent wall in this dining room designed by Sara Hillery.

Another way to achieve that goal? "Often times if I am working within a tight budget but still want a lot of bang for my client’s buck I will create an accent wall with paint or wallpaper for budget-friendly, dramatic impact."

A neutral dining room/Photography: Sara Hillery Interior Design/A neutral but bold dining area maximizes textured wallpaper to great effect.

Know your style. 

What decorative style are you going for in your space—or, if you're a pro, your client's? Decorative style will dictate your use of wallpaper. "Wallpaper in a traditional space is appropriate, and blends well with the rest of the home, whereas in a more modern space, wallpaper should be used sparingly," says Sara. 

Pastel living room framed by a bright pink accent wall/Photography: Sara Hillery Interior Design/A bright pink wallpaper frames a soothing, pastel-hued living space designed by Sara Hillery.


Look up!

Think outside the four walls, advocates Sara. "Don’t forget the ceiling! I prefer painting or wallpapering the ceiling over one accent wall, it’s unexpected and more sophisticated." 

Bright green kitchen cabinetry/Photography: Sara Hillery Design/Painting your cabinets? "When painting high use cabinetry use a paint with a satin finish for a soft, enduring finish," says Sara.


start with samples

Ready to take the leap into a new color scheme? Get started by sampling! Shop some of our favorite patterns and colors, and see what they look like on your wall.

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