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Anna G. Larson, Published August 15 2012

Building style with color blocking

FARGO - Pablo Picasso was no stranger to color blocking. He described color like this: “Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No.”

A continuing trend, color blocking sings in fashion and home design again this year.

Kris Carlson, an interior designer at Designing Women 2 in Fargo, described color blocking as a wow factor.

Fargo fashion designer Christelle Dominique said color blocking is simply playing with colors.

“Since I’m from the Caribbean, using color is in my blood,” she said. “It might just be showing up on the runway again, but I always use color blocking in my MeJeanne Couture collections or in my daily outfits.”

Choosing a main color, like red, and adding other colors that complement it, like pink or navy blue, is an example of color blocking Dominique said. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. The designer said the key to successful color blocking is pairing hues of complementary colors and generally sticking to three colors or less.

“That way, you’re perfect, on trend and color blocking without overdoing it,” she said.

One of Dominique’s favorite color blocking combinations is hot pink and red. For people not ready to wear ultra-bold color all over, the designer suggested pairing black and white with a color.

“Black and white is the granddaddy of color blocking,” she said.

Blue and white, Dominique said, is a fresh take on black and white and pairs well with tangerine. Pastel green with peach or canary yellow is another favorite color-blocking combination.

“Color blocking can be high impact even if you use pastels,” she said.

Accessories like belts, bracelets, clutches and nail color are small ways to start color blocking, Dominique said.

“It’s not about clothes only,” she said.

The trend extends to the home as well.

“I think people are open to trying a little something different in their home because we see it so much in clothing,” said Kari Bucholz, an interior designer at By Design Inc. in Fargo.

Bucholz and Carlson both said they see color blocking used frequently in window treatments. Carlson said using a different color for each panel of a window treatment is an effective, cost-friendly way to color block.

“It’s great if you’re renting and can’t paint,” she said. “It brings color up the walls.”

Furniture that uses color blocking is more of a long-term investment, Bucholz said, but pillows, rugs, lampshades and other accessories incorporate the trend into the home in an affordable way.

For people wary of bringing color into their home, Bucholz recommends starting with blues and greens as a base for building color blocking. Complementary colors could be tans, reds, oranges or purples, she said.

“Colors depend on personal taste, but oranges and greens are really popular for adding pops of color,” she said. “Little pops of color can balance a space – bigger isn’t always better.”

Just as with fashion, color blocking in the home doesn’t have to be ultrabold, Carlson said.

“Most people think of very bright colors when they think color blocking, but you can color block with subtle colors, too,” she said.

Gray paired with terracotta and blue, tan paired with black and white (Dominique’s “granddaddy of color blocking”), and citron green paired with silvery gray are subtle color combinations Carlson suggested.

Dominique predicted that the color-blocking trend will continue through the end of the year.