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Southern Accents on Color    by Frances MacDougall order for
Southern Accents on Color
by Frances MacDougall
Order:  USA  Can
Bulfinch, 2003 (2003)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

My first impression of Southern Accents on Color was of a book full of light. Open it to find all the colors of the rainbow, tastefully presented in a variety of beautifully furnished rooms in stately Southern homes.

This is a large coffee table sized book, written by Frances MacDougall along with the Editors of Southern Accents. It is divided into sections by the primary colors - Blues, Greens, Reds and Yellows - and finishing with one on Neutrals. There is a historical perspective on design trends for each color, as well as sample swatches and quotations from modern designers. Resources at the back of the book include Designers as well as Fabric and Paint Manufacturers.

The introduction reminds us that color is 'integral to our everyday existence' and informs us that infants can identify a favorite color even before a favorite food. We are told that colorful interiors have never gone out of style in the South, and that the trick with color is to select a shade that won't become tired. Sidebars throughout the book cover topics like the colors that best suit different rooms, those that work well together (on a color wheel), opening and closing spaces with color, lighting choices to enhance color, and use of a hint of color in ceilings.

I love all the shades of blue from icy blue to teal and periwinkle. We are told that it is a color popular in coastal areas and that it has a cooling effect. There's a fascinating discussion of the combination of blue and white in porcelain and pottery, and we see use of purple, violet and lavender in bedrooms. Greens connect us to nature and are calming. Sage and celadon were new to me but pleasant to the eye, and I liked the use of fern-printed paper and fabrics.

Reds ('Red is the drama queen of all colors') stimulate festivity and we are warned that a liberal use of red requires attention to good lighting. There is also discussion of use of its 'sunny offspring', orange, of pink 'synonymous with spring', of gold leaf and of ocher. Whether 'soft and buttery, sunny and bold, or golden and radiant', Yellows are happy, warming colors, and I found the rooms in these shades especially inviting. Finally Neutrals, from linens and browns to silver and gray, can give a sense of tranquillity along with style.

Having been experimenting with colors (beginning with bold colors in a winter cottage to offset outdoor whites and grays) in the last few years, I found Southern Accents on Color fascinating. It's an inspiring and useful resource for anyone interested in adding warmth and color to their home, but it also makes a gorgeous coffee table book and a welcome gift.

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