Do all Greens go Together?

I have wanted green velvet drapes somewhere in my house ever since I saw The Holiday movie with Cameron Diaz. And by the way I’m calling it Kelly Green because I think it’s so much more current than saying Forest Green. Then I was at Cote de Texas the other day reading about the big debate on Bunny Williams Kips Bay Living room and saw this room designed by Bunny which I instantly loved so I had to post it here!

I also adore the wispy ferns on the table. My friend Lauren at Pure Style Home wrote a post last week about accessorizing with ferns.

Here is her office in The Holiday—love those drapes, they are way more amazing in the movie (this picture is blurry)! I even have a sample of the fabric in my office. However, I need to buy this house and renovate first, in order to install them!

Cameron Diaz in The Holiday
For about 2 years now, I have been predicting that Kelly Green is coming back, (newer and more vibrant than Forest Green from the 80’s) I see it around, and shelter magazines mention it, but not with any great resurgence [yet]. I’m willing to be wrong though, especially because it seems that ‘yellow and gray’ seems to be the big new colours coming in.
Here is another room done entirely in greens by one of my favourite Canadian Designers, Sarah Richardson:
This was a lottery house in White Rock which I toured a few years ago. Although the fabric on the sectional looks black it’s actually a dark olive green. It’s a games room, and here is an image of the other side of the room:
Here’s a close up of the fabric on the ottoman[above] repeated here on the barstools.

I have heard the mantra “All greens go together” and I think it’s mostly true; what do you think?
Since all greens go together in nature, it makes sense that they should work in interior design right?

Anyone that reads this blog knows how I feel about mixing clean and dirty colours together in design. The only time I have seen that it actually works is with greens. Here is another example:

Image source

Here we have olive green walls and a matching ottoman, mixed with a fresh ‘clean’ green in the painted armoire and end table. You could even throw in a clean yellow (like they’ve done with the addition of the tulips) and it would look great!

Image source

Here the ‘clean green’ is on the walls and in the printed ottoman and drapery. The throw, lamp and pictures frames are in a ‘muddy’ olive green. Notice here, there is lots of white in both images!

White is the perfect neutral with light, fresh colours, including blues, turquoise, pinks, etc.

Image source

Here we have mostly an all ‘clean green’ room with a hit of turquoise. Notice there’s still plenty of white to keep the look fresh. Which brings me to the point of this post. I thought I’d include my opinion on this living room by Bunny Williams to add to everyone else.


I’m not as fussed about the red egg-chair, other than to say it doesn’t make sense from a design perspective, simply because the colour (or the style) is not repeated anywhere else in the room.
It does visually appear as if ‘the client’ (I know it’s a show house) wanted it to stay and the designer ignored it.

My lowly (I am not a famous designer so who am I to say) opinion is that the turquoise is clean while the rest of the colours in the room (except the lipstick red chair) are muddy. That to me is the biggest reason why it’s not the most spectacular room in the world. And, like I said in my comment to Joni, Bunny Williams is brilliant to decorate a room that created this much publicity!

Well my lovelies, what do you think?

Related posts:
The Best way to Update Forest Green
When to use White vs. Dark Colours
Three Ways to Describe Colour
What everyone Should know about Beige

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leave aREPLY

  1. Hmmmm…. not loving Bunny's Kips Bay living room. There's just too much going on — it kind of hurts my eyes!! And I don't like the combination of colours or the patterns in the room.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but nothing about the room works for me. The red egg chair in particular really bugs me!!

    As for mixing greens — if it works in nature, then it'll work in your home 🙂 I love the combination of chocolate brown and apple green — like a tree, I guess 🙂

    We're posting our colour personality quiz answers on Friday — be sure to come by and check them out!! 🙂


  2. It just goes to prove that you can't always judge a room by a picture. There is a lot going on in Miss Williams' beautiful room, but it real life it was layered, fresh, welcoming, and comfortable. Well, all except for maybe "that" chair. Some rooms just don't photograph well, or aren't well photographed.

  3. i totally agree. If you look to nature for examples, you can see a myriad of greens all mixed together. I've read that there are more greens than any other color in the spectrum. I tend to think of green as a neutral, as you can pretty much pair it with anything. Great post, Maria!

  4. Hi Rachel,
    Thanks for your comment, you just brought up an excellent point I did not mention in this post, not only that all greens go together but all colours go with green!

  5. Man, all this time I thought kelly green was the colour of a grass irish knoll. Shamrock green.

    But you are saying it is interchangeable with forest green? Forest green, the green answer to navy blue? The patron colour of spruce beer?

    So confused. From where does my misconception stem? Is it because Gene Kelly was in Brigadoon? 😛


    I'm loving kelly green lately. I can't get enough of it – at least for my wardrobe. I haven't gotten up the courage to bring it into the house. Yet. 😉

  7. Hi Kiley,
    Kelly green is a brighter, fresher green than 'forest' green but they are the same intensity, which is why they are confusing.

  8. The Blasphemous Fiendess

    I love love love green. I have always worn green and I remember in the eighties how people would look at me and say, "oh, green." in a vaguely confused sort of way. I say a resounding no to turquoise and olive unless you are someone who likes to be outrageously different. Someone like that would also add a red bucket chair. I don't like a designerish/too well matched look so I like a room to have something a little off, but not that off.

  9. I adore this Bunny Willims room because for once it has more than the standard three colors. If I had to live in it, I'd probably brighten up the living room curtains to copper to add to the vibrancy or tone down the wall color a bit. But her choice of shapes, cool artwork, and willingness to experiment with tricky color combinations is super.

  10. Hellooo, New here. But being a fan of all things paint, painted and due to be painted or sewn….I must say the bottom photo is hard to look at.
    You've used the word muddy which is about it. It is heavy against a colour which is light/ethereal; the furnishings seem to be slumped on the floor, while the walls seem to be pushing back to open the room. I would've asked for a refund!! :}

  11. Knotting Hill Interiors

    Maria, I LOVE the yummy green velvet fabric on the table in the first picture of this blog! It's amazing how this shade of green can feel equally as masculine OR feminine, depending upon its surroundings. My husband loves any shade of dark green, and it looks so "manly" in that context… yet, somehow it can still be soft and lovely enough to be made into the most elegant window treatments (as you mentioned in your post). In addition, I ADORE almost all grey-greens, in that they are truly a wonderful "new neutral". Thanks for sharing your insight and perspective! Kimberly Grigg

  12. Bunny Williams does courageous and interesting things, but…there are times when I want her to restrain just a tad on contrasting elements (just my opinion). Here is a better photo of Kip Bay from her site:
    The nod to red in the room is more prominent here, flowers, painting, container with red somethings. Bunny has never believed in less is more. Bunny is Bunny.

  13. If greens are an exception to the rule in terms of being able to mix clean and dirty greens together, can a dirty green go with cleaner, nongreen colors?

  14. I think what bothers me about the room are the pillows and throw on the sofas. Change those and the room would look so much better to my eye. I love the sofas and pretty much everything else in the room.

  15. I love greens, and have them all over my house. But, they’re all muted, dirty greens. I’m simplistic: prefer to keep clean and dirty separate, and like blue greens to be separated from yellow greens. In nature, most foliage greens are clean and bright so that’s why they work together. Also, the majority are more yellow green than blue green. Flower colors also tend to be clear an DC bright, not muddy.

  16. We have a dark velvet “forest green” sofa. Also, we have a light greenish/yellowish wingback chair not too far from that where my husband sits to watch tv. I have never liked the way those two items look together and have wanted to change the color of the chair ever since I purchased it. Don’t know what color to choose, but I love turquoise–perhaps that is a stretch. Perhaps will go with light grey, but that seems too blah! Help. Another problem to solve.

  17. I just want to respond to your idea that in nature all greens go together. And I’d have to say that’s kind of a yes and no. In concept yes. But when you look at the fact that your bright neon greens come in the spring. That is the color of new plant growth. Think, new leaves budding on your trees. Then think of the colors of the leaves throughout the season, they change and become deeper colors. During summer they may be a jelly green to a emerald green, and at the end of the season they become more muddy colors as the tree is starting to get ready for its dormant season. While the same tree produces the clean bright neon green, kelly greens and muddy olive greens they don’t all happen at the same time in the same season. So putting clean greens and dirty greens together is combining spring, summer, and fall. And if those colors don’t happen in nature together it makes sense that it wouldn’t go together inside your house either.