Jazz up your motorhome’s interior by following these simple guidelines.
By Terri Blazell
One of the main reasons for buying a motorhome is the ever-changing view you get by looking outside your windows. Ironically, with just about everything on the inside screwed and glued into place, the interior look almost never changes. If the only time you use your coach is for occasional weekend outings, the unchanging décor may not be a problem. But if you are a full-timer or spend considerable time in your coach, the look can become quite tiresome.
The good news is, you don’t have to gut your coach and spend a lot of money to change its appearance. By knowing a few tricks of the trade, you can add new colors and patterns effectively, creating a new look without changing much but accessories.
Clean or muddy?
The first step is to determine the color “family” your coach currently contains. Colors come in two families: clean and muddy. Clean colors are pure colors: bright reds, clear blues, clean greens, and sunny yellows. Muddy colors are also called earth tones. They are clean colors that have been tinted with a little brown and have names such as dusty rose, moss green, and goldenrod.
Clean colors can go all over the spectrum, from bright to bold to very light, whereas earth tones tend to be more in the middle of the color spectrum. Psychologically, muddy colors are more soothing and, as far as home décor is concerned, tend to stay in style longer than clean colors. However, right now we are in a period where clean colors are in.
Walk through any department store’s linen department and notice the crisp, white backgrounds with bright, cheery patterns popping out of them.
Because earth tones tend to be more popular in the long haul, they often are chosen for RV décor, no matter what’s in style. One way to determine if the décor in your RV is clean or muddy is to see whether white or off-white has been used as a neutral. While white can go with any color combination, it is more often used with clean colors. Off-whites are almost always used with earth tones. If you don’t have either neutral in your décor, lay something off-white across the fabrics. Off-white doesn’t usually go as well with clean colors and tends to look out of place. If off-white doesn’t look right in your coach but crisp whites do, there’s a good chance that your coach is decorated with clean colors, not earth tones.
Once you’ve determined which color family your fabrics are in, you can narrow your shopping to purchases that fit within that family. Fortunately, we live in a time when anything is available, no matter what the predominant trend, so in spite of all the clean colors out there, earth tone fabrics are still plentiful. You can add any other colors to the color combinations in your coach, no matter what they are, as long as they’re part of the same family. The secret to adding a new color is to make sure you place it in three different places. Don’t make the mistake of putting a couple of throw pillows on the sofa, then quickly taking them away because they look out of place. The new color may look odd, not because it doesn’t belong, but because there isn’t enough of it.
When adding a new color in several places, try varying the height of the items so they aren’t all at the same eye level. Take holiday decorations, for example. It doesn’t matter what your color scheme; when the reds and greens of Christmas go up, they fit right in. That’s because they are put in so many different places at many different levels.
Introducing a color can be done in many different ways: use throw pillows, throw rugs, picture frames or matting, placemats, napkins, vases, flowers, canisters, blanket throws, dining chair covers or cushions, towels, a bedspread, or shams. If you have a lot of patterns in your current decor, it’s best to use solids. (More on patterns later.)
Once you’ve spread the color around the room, you will have a much better idea whether it works with your current scheme or not. Most likely it will. By the way, navy blue goes with anything, in both clean and muddy colors. If you have absolutely no confidence in your decorating skills, you can’t go wrong with navy blue. Just be careful; navy blue can be tinted with red for a purplish effect and with green for a teal effect. Try to go pure navy, but if you find it tinted one way or the other and you like it, just make sure that all the navy blue you bring in is tinted in the same shade. Paint chips from the hardware or paint store can be helpful. Match them up to the colors you are using and tape them to the inside of a folder. Take the folder with you when you go shopping.
Patterns are a little trickier to coordinate but can be done successfully, too. Patterns come in two types: circular, such as paisleys and florals, and linear, such as stripes, checks, and plaids. If the existing patterns are linear, introduce a pattern that is circular. This contrast keeps the patterns from clashing with each other. When you look at design magazines, notice how often a plaid fabric is paired up with a floral.
Be aware of scale when coordinating patterns. Try to keep the pattern sizes at the opposite ends of the scale. A large floral looks better with a smaller floral or a plaid with thinner lines than it would with a bold buffalo check or another equally large floral print, even if they are both in the same color family.
The third thing to be aware of when decorating is the balance of colors in the room. Whether you are working with two colors or six, only one color should dominate and be the focal point of the room. Make sure there is more of it in the room than the other colors. A second color should accent it, and any additional colors should be considered accent only. In design, this is called the 60-30-10 rule. The primary color should make up 60 percent of the color in the room; the secondary color 30 percent; and the remaining colors 10 percent.
The 60 percent color rule does not cover 60 percent of the room; it refers to 60 percent of the color in the room. For example, if you have white carpet, a white sofa, and white valances, and you decide to bring in red and yellow, you only need a couple of throw pillows, a throw rug, and a blanket throw for one color to be dominant. The secondary color could be no more than the matting in a picture frame, a vase, and the background in the pillow pattern. If you plan to work predominantly with neutrals, vary the textures to add interest and keep the room from looking flat or boring.
Certain areas of the room are so large that whatever color they are done in will account for 60 percent of your scheme and you won’t have to add too much of it elsewhere to maintain the balance. For example, because the floor is the largest area of a room, if your carpet is blue, then blue is your 60 percent color. Just use it as an accent for the rest of the room, such as in the background pattern of the sofa and valances. If you have had your coach awhile and you are sick of blue, but the sofa has some rose in the pattern, emphasize the rose by bringing in a throw rug, pillows, and other accessories in that color. If you add enough accessories in your new color, it will help throw off the dominant balance of the existing color and create a new look without your having to make extensive “” and expensive “” changes.
Another thing to remember when introducing a color or bringing out a background color is to vary the shade. Paint chips are great for this, since they always have more than one shade of the same color on the sample. Use these as a guide. If you are adding rose, consider using it as a lighter pastel, a medium rose, and a burgundy. This brings interest and excitement to a room.
Neutrals, such as white, beige, brown, black, and gray, are not considered colors. They not only mix and match among themselves but also with all the other colors freely. Off-whites and browns work best with earth tones; whites, grays, and blacks look better with clean colors. You will find them worked into any number of color combinations. Color evokes emotions, both good and bad, but neutrals provide a place for your mind and eyes to rest. Neutrals are not a part of the 60-30-10 rule. You can use as many as you like in any combination.
Rules are meant to be ….
The most important thing to remember is that there are no real “rules” in decorating. What I’ve listed above are great guidelines, but you don’t have to stick to them to develop a look that you are pleased with. The most important thing is to create a loving, relaxing environment that you call home. The best decorations aren’t things but friends, family, and pets. Live well, have fun, and enjoy the ride.