Willson Powell...

and color

By: Julie VanDolen • Apr 02, 2010 • 0 Comments

So you’ve heard about the incredible rooftop garden events atop the Atlantic Station building?  Our Featured Designer for April, Willson Powell, plans them all.  From the Boy Scouts’ rooftop campouts to the Ballet’s complete dance floor…his events atop the 17-story tower are not to be missed.  In addition to owning his design firm, Eastshore Design, he serves as Hospitality Director for a Columbia law firm.  His other half—and an equally talented half at that, happens to be Karen Brosius, Executive Director of the Columbia Museum of Art.

Not only is Powell a delight to chat with, he’s also full of great quips, quotes, sage advice, and colorful commentary.  His love of color in design is a reflection of his personality, for certain.  He studies the personalities of his clients and parlays their emotional tendencies into their homes with the right mix of pieces and colors.

“Dorothy Draper once said she ‘jumbled periods cheerfully’”, he says.  Like the iconic Draper, Powell also has a gift for mixing periods and colors in much the same manner.  He loves bold colors—from midnight blue to taupey-tan, he has a knack for choosing the right color to showcase art, porcelain, rugs, and people!

He may choose a strong red for a dining room to allow an English portrait to jump off the wall.  The backdrop of a red wall behind a heavy sideboard topped with sterling serving pieces is always a stunner.  He also loves the feel of an old Russian tearoom; red and green interiors set off by brass portait lights.  Colors like aubergine can be tricky, so be sure paint large swatches on the wall and look at the paint throughout the day as the light changes.  You’ll eventually get it right.

On the softer side, Powell likes to use peaches and corals to lighten the mood and bring out rich wood tones. His favorite yellow is Farrow & Ball's "Butter".  Farrow & Ball is an English paint company with a great palette of colors not typically found in palettes in the US.  You'll want to eat their colour card, it's so full of yummy colors.

Farrow & Ball

Other advice for injecting emotion into a room?  Powell asks clients “what do you love?” and encourages them to personalize spaces with these things. If a man collects guitars, he uses them in the room.  If the room is meant for solitude or relaxation, he likes this trick, “sit in a room with a pendulum clock.  It ticks slightly slower than human heart, and the ticking…slows you down…very soothing…”  Much like sitting near a fountain or napping. That’s a powerful emotion…just thinking about it makes me nod off.

Willson Powell Design



We’ll post links to Willson Powell’s website just as soon as it hits the web.