Color Story: Olive

If you are not careful, olive can lean toward drab and depressing pretty easily. I admit I like it that way. It’s more interesting to look at. Maybe not as much to live with though? In the same way, I believe movies are more interesting when the ending isn’t neatly wrapped up and happy, but in real life do we really want anything but neat wrapped up endings that make us smile?

Anyway, back to olive. First, to make olive brighter and happier, pair it with white, teal, purple, coral or its lightweight cousin, chartreuse.

This entryway is a good example of how to do that, where the walls are painted Benjamin Moore Wasabi (the olive) and Vintage Wine (the purple) and it’s all lightened up by the trim panted in neutral Hush:

Benjamin Moore Olive and Purple Wall Paint Colors

Here it’s also with purple but veers moodier in this Marrakech home featured in Architectural Digest:

Marrakech Home with Olive Walls via Architectural Digest

Of course you are steps away from a courtyard and the Moroccan sunshine, so darker and moodier is okay here. Actually I realize the Moroccan sunshine is the same as our sunshine, wherever we are, but doesn’t sunshine feel different when you visit a place far away?!

Here you can see how well olive works with teal:

Olive Mohair Sweater

This touch of olive on an old chest is perfect with the cactus and eclectic collection here, and against white walls and floor it does not feel heavy. Seen at Envers du Decor:

Olive Chest Envers du Decor

This is a super sophisticated use of olive on the headboard in Jane Aldridge’s home – she is the mom of Jane of Sea of Shoes blog fame:

Olive Headboard in Jane Aldridge Home

Via Brooklyn Tweed Flickr, if you are like me and like to create, images of balls of yarns can make you twitch. Because they can’t stay like this, something must be done with them — something olive and ombré:

Olive Yarns via Brooklyn Tweed

 Sibella Court knows how to do shabby and moody really well, and here she does it with some olive. And actually these colors are in the yarn colors above so here’s how they play out in a room:

Olive Tones via Sibella Court

Here a sagey-olive is used in a well-traveled bathroom designed by Sandra Espinet:

Well-Traveled Bathroom Designed by Sandra Espinet

Finally, olive from Jean Paul Gaultier done up in different textures:

Jean Paul Gaultier and Olive

If you want to see more olive, visit my Pinterest Board full of this color:

Follow Nomadic Decorator’s board Color – Olive on Pinterest.


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