Working With a Green Color Palette

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Green. It’s the most universally pleasing and yet one of the most challenging colors on the spectrum. We see green more easily than any other color.   Artificially, getting it on to fabric or dishes has historically been a nightmare as it is often chemically unstable and the color shifts over time. (One of the many reasons you still don’t see very many green cars on the road.) And yet, it is restful, relaxing, and generally a fabulous way to bring the outside in.

 So… with all the those shades of green that the human eye can detect you can see how there’s a lot of room for things to go slightly (or horribly) wrong aesthetically.  Here are a couple of simple tips to keep your green color palette on track.

Pick Your Favorite Nature Spot

Here’s a bit of Hawaii I captured with my camera and just some of the greens that are in the photograph

Here’s a bit of Hawaii I captured with my camera and just some of the greens that are in the photograph

  • If you are after a particular nature mood – tropical jungle, Scandinavian forest, Appalachian Spring, find an evocative photograph and stick to the colors in the picture. Mother Nature always gets her rooms right!

  • Keep strong prints and contrast colors to a bare minimum and focus on smaller designs and textures

  • Alternatively, limit patterns to a contrast color in the photograph (pink blooming trees for example) and go all out with a cherry blossom print that works with your theme.

What Kind of Green are You?

Not after a theme room? No problem, just stick to this basic separation of greens and you should do alright.

There is a huge range of green shades but like all colors on the spectrum it blends with adjacent colors – in the case of green, that means yellow on one end and blue on the other.  The majority of greens available on home goods or apparel fall pretty clearly into one end or the other. Olive greens on the yellow end:

A simple pattern of 4 shades of olive greens

A simple pattern of 4 shades of olive greens


And forest greens on the other:

The same pattern shifted to forest greens

The same pattern shifted to forest greens

 To confuse things, most  actual forests are shades of olive, but that’s not too important to remember.  Where you can easily get into trouble is mixing the two groups:

An unfortunate mix of yellow greens and blue greens

An unfortunate mix of yellow greens and blue greens

This one is two shades of olive and two shades of forest. It doesn’t work so great, does it?  Most people naturally fall into one or the other camp in terms of what they’re attracted to, maybe based on what era they were exposed to as a kid (the 60’s and 70’s were olive heavy (avocado carpet, anyone?) while the 80’s veered heavily into the blue side of green as did the 00’s with a grayed version.

If you’re shopping online you probably know that colors can vary a bit from what they look like on a screen. But they won’t be looking blueish green if they’re in the yellow green camp or vice versa (without someone doing some seriously bad Photoshop mucking).

 As you become more aware of greens you will probably begin to notice where things fall and be able to easily say no to something that’s not going to work. But it’s always a good idea to carry a photo or a small swatch of something that has the key color(s), like wrapping paper or fabric, if you’re going to be making big or highly visible purchases.

  I hope this gave you some useful ideas to add more green to your surroundings. Green is truly good for you!

If this was helpful please share with a friend…

6 Ways to Let Your Individual Style Shine Through and Get Noticed

If you’ve Marie Kondo’d your closet and now don’t have much to wear or your living room is looking a little bare, don’t fall back on bad habits! Here are six ways to put more of you out where people can see (and appreciate) it without succumbing to clutter.

The next chapter


I’ve spent the last six months seriously exploring pattern, surface design and related tools and techniques. Sitting down in January to do taxes means a hard look at what has made money and what hasn’t. It’s now time to get serious (but still play!)

So in that vein and knowing that some good things can’t be rushed. I’m working hard on the business end of things - really focusing on getting rid of those limiting thoughts and pushing through the noise of the Internet. I’ll be moving some things around and also really zooming in on my strengths - making more designs like the one above that combine my love or gardening with folk art. It’s simple, it’s abstract, and yet it was drawn from real life - a snowdrop picked just yesterday. Art is certainly subjective and yet there are ways to add value and not just more choices - that’s important too for this next phase of entrepreneurial greatness…

Solving my own design problems

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Welcome to my upstairs living room aka the winter snug - a cozy room for watching TV or having a cup of tea while watching the snow fall over the meadow. It had been completely covered in floral wallpaper… now it’s bare and ready for its next incarnation.

But what to do? I’m planning to move my comfy loveseat up here - it just fits in the dormer. It already has two slipcovers - gray velvet for winter and seafoam linen for summer so any color scheme has to fit those in. So I’ve been making designs in a set color scheme to see what might work. Here are a few of the mock-ups:

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snug v1.jpg
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I’m still sitting on a final decision but I’ve had lots of fun making designs based on flowers in the garden and woodland - trying to bring a sense of the place inside the house…

Starting down a folk art path

I’m easily distracted. And I really love color and whimsy. I’m not sure what kicked it off, I think it might have been a Skillshare class but I’ve found myself obsessing over folk art florals and capturing my garden plants through that lens.

Here’s an example

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I just want to keep making more, so I plan to devote some time over Christmas to just play and see what happens - with snowdrops, leaves, whatever takes my fancy.

Locally Inspired

Fiction writers are told to write the book they want to read rather than the one they think will sell. Trends can be a ticket to fame or the best way to get lost in a crowd. When it comes to design, I think the same dynamic applies. I certainly find trends to be an interesting dynamic and a way to add constraints to an open-ended brief. If you don’t have a color scheme in mind, why not explore the new ‘hot’ colors? You can always toss them and do something else if it’s not working.

I have a small upstairs room under renovation that I want to decorate with my own work - but having looked through what I’ve done so far, nothing seemed quite right. So I’ve embarked on a mini project - focusing on five main colors - to create designs drawn from my immediate surroundings and as potential candidates for this cozy little room. It will be the evening snug, the winter hidey-hole with an overstuffed love seat in the dormer, tv and good reading light.

Two of the five colors were dictated by existing upholstery/soft furnishings; seafoam green and gray, the remaining three were drawn from a purple glass vase, a fern and a green/white hydrangea in the front yard. I’m not ruling out white/black or shades and contrasting colors but these five form the main palette.

I want the room to feel like part of its surroundings so I’m focusing on designs that relate to the garden, woods, and landscape. So far I’ve done a simply hydrangea blossom and a fern design. I’m liking this direction and can’t wait to see where I end up!

My (temporary) Patron Saint of Social Media

Social media bewilders me - how can someone with four posts have 2000 followers? I’d like to blame it on my age, but the need to get eyeballs on your work in order to sell it is a pretty timeless problem. And I’m not alone in wishing there was either a) a magic formula that actually worked or b) someone else to do it for me or c) that I hadn’t avoided it for so long.

Regardless, we are in the age where if my bot doesn’t follow back your bot it’s going to unfollow and get-thin-quick somehow thinks that following a pattern designer is going to… what? I have no idea, but it was probably a bot too.

When this all begins to feel human-less and just odd I look up to the wall over my desk to “young lady of Lyon” who looks perpetually worried about her number of Instagram followers. Since she’s had that look on her face since 1775 I can last a little bit longer.


I found her at a nearby charity shop for the princely sum of $10. While I have the academic chops to discuss this print in great historic detail, I bought it because it makes me giggle. I’m going to let her worry about follower counts from here on out. I’ll be over in the corner muttering hashtags to myself.

Following the distraction


I’m not exactly sure how - I think a combination of something on Pinterest plus ink pens being in with the watercolor supplies - and suddenly I’m fascinated with the combination of ink and watercolor. Not the usual black line containing color but rather line ends, color caps it off.

I think this will evolve into something far better (eventually) but in the meantime I’m pushing the perfectionist aside and just getting on with making art and putting it out there. A part of me likes the informality of a slight jig and jag in a line (and another part really doesn’t!) I do think there may be potential with current trends towards looking handmade… Digitizing it has it’s own tricks but I’m working it out.

Thoughts? Would you go in a different direction?