Interior designer Bruce Norman Long says he learned a lot about using
color as a student at Rhode Island School of Design.
“I personally prefer some pop of color,” he says. “The cliché that ‘people provide the color’ in a room is ridiculous. Let’s face it, people aren’t that colorful. But if you understand color theory – and I had a great instructor at RISD – you know how and why accent choices work.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who had no opinion about color, or the ones they like – or more importantly, dislike,” he adds.
The king of color has done juicy-bright spaces infused with ripe shades – imagine upholstered aqua dining chairs around a glass table or a plump cranberry-colored couch opposite a lemon-yellow chaise lounge.
Long has added a punch of hot pink – via pillows – in a gray and cream bedroom; leopard-print chairs to a dining room; and a rich, sink right into me curved plum velvet sectional placed opposite a cooler gray damask sofa in a living room.
LUXE YET LIVED IN
Long’s whole point is that rooms are to be enjoyed, not roped off for show. The philosophy for his thriving business is posted right on his website: “Every room in a house should be used; if it goes unused, I haven’t done my job.”
“If you’re not comfortable, that isn’t right. Sometimes, all it takes is adding a TV to a room,” he adds. “That’s really how I was raised in Pittsburgh – to believe that the most important people in the home are the family members. I had two older brothers, and with three boys, our parents made the house completely user-friendly to us and our friends.” His parents were collectors; his dad’s treasure trove was clocks. “We grew up with knowledge and appreciation of antiques,” Long notes. “And my parents indulged me very early and trusted me. I’ve been decorating their home since I was about twelve. At sixteen, they let me completely redo the entire first floor.”
Long says he asks new clients to make a clipping file of images they like and dislike – torn from fashion magazines, mail-order catalogs, and other sources. The pictures could be of colors they like or of textures they hate.
“These files tell me things nothing else can,” he says. “I’ve had clients show me a picture of a bathroom they like when I’m doing their living room.” The idea is to get a feel for what homeowners love and hate.