Colour Palettes | Calm & Cool

Mentors Jennifer Mabley and Austin Handler, Principals of Mabley Handler Interior Design, share insight into serene colour palettes!

When people see one of our projects, whether it’s in a magazine, in a showhouse, or a portfolio, they instantly know it’s a Mabley Handler house…How? Our color palette is the tip-off. We have become know for our use of cool grey-ish blues and greens, and soft creams and beiges. We always try to mix it up, but we often find ourselves drawn back to the same color palette. Why is that?

The projects we work on almost exclusively are beach houses in the Hamptons area of Long Island. Our clients tend to be from New York City and usually work in finance. They have very stressful jobs. The majority of them have children, which can add another layer of stress (especially if you’re all crammed into the car while heading out to the Hamptons on a summer Friday and you’re stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway!) So, when they get to their beach house, all they want to relax. They want to exchange their ties for trunks, their jeans for capris, and their loafers for flip flops. They want to exhale.

So, how do we help them do that? 10-12 years ago, it seems like everyone had a red room in their house…A powder room, the dining room, maybe even a guest bedroom. But that’s not going to fly here.  One of the most significant areas of impact that you can have in a house is on the walls…But if you want to be able to chill, you have to literally chill…As in, cool the colors down. No deep reds, no chocolaty browns. Think cool, calm, relaxing…Let the soft blues and greens wash over you!

We draw the inspiration for our color palette from the beach itself: Blues from the early morning sky, greens form the frothy ocean, and beiges from the sand and from the grasses in the dunes. Not literal representations of these things, just the suggestion. The soothing tones we use evoke the nature around the house and bring it into the house. When you see the walls, you hear the ocean. If you get too literal with your color inspiration, you might be surprised how some of the beautiful colors that exist in nature can become hideous when translated literally into a home’s décor…Have you ever tried to paint something a true grass green? Or sunflower orange?  Or even sky blue? We’re not saying it can never work, but it is shocking how bold some colors are in nature, and how out-of-place they can look as part of a home’s décor.

That’s why we often gravitate towards the softer part of the color spectrum. Calm, softer color on the interior of a house can make for a calm interior of a person. And when you’re coming out to a beach house to retreat from your hectic city life and job, that’s exactly what you want. Loosen tie, unbutton jeans, kick off shoes, and exhale…

Tip: Finding the right shade of color can be difficult, especially when you’re using lighter colors which contain smaller amount of pigment. If you can’t find the exact shade you’re looking for in the right strength, try finding your desired color in a darker tone, and then have the paint store reduce the tint by 25%, 50%, even 75%…You may find the exact paint color that you were looking for beyond the limitations of the paint deck.



Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

3 Responses to “Colour Palettes | Calm & Cool”

  1. Dianne Says:

    I absolutely LOVE the space you designed. So fresh and welcoming. Interesting idea of bringing the the shrub/plant indoors. Was that done for the photo’s or as a permanent feature. Very Cool! Thanks for sharing.


  2. Jennifer & Austin Says:

    Hi Dianne…Thank you! That room is actually our master bedroom :) And, total truth in advertising: They are outdoor plants that we brought inside just for the photo shoot…We looked for indoor plants, but they all ended up looking too green in the room…And the pale grey-ish green color of these plants worked perfectly in the room, so we used them for the shoot, and then planted them on our property when we were done (we were told by our landscaper that they wouldn’t survive long-term indoors).


  3. My Beautiful Life Says:

    Love the bedroom. It is so peaceful. Especially love the trees on either side of the bed. You guys did a beautiful job.


Leave a Reply