Color to the Max: Life in Color Competition

Meet the six winners of a colorful design competition, presented by Midwest Home and ASID-MN

Photos by Spacecrafting, Alyssa Lee and Andrea Rugg  

A lovely arrangement of peonies, dramatic material selections and a customized color palette add fresh flair to this vibrant, award-winning study by Lucy Penfield of Lucy Interior Design.


Earlier this year, I read an article about how Gen Z is determined to bring maximalism back to the forefront of style—from makeup to fashion and particularly when it comes to interior design. Deeming the millennial’s love of minimalism too boring for their tastes, they have instead adopted an aesthetic referred to as “cluttercore,” where they fill their abodes with a mishmash of color combinations, playful patterns, and plenty of knickknacks—a habit that only intensified with the wave of online shopping that followed in the wake of COVID-19. (Of course, when I mentioned this trend in passing to a fellow millennial friend, she replied with a flat, “Well, they can pry my all-black outfits and all-white dishes out of my cold, dead hands.”)

While it seems the fate of each generation to eschew the trends preferred by their predecessors, there’s something to be said for the bold patterns, daring prints, and vibrant colors currently in style. After all, color is powerful and (when done right) can be used to both subtly enhance areas and make striking statements in your home. But with the thousands of tints, tones, and shades available, picking the perfect one for your bedroom walls can be intimidating, to say the least. It’s no wonder many homeowners end up defaulting to quieter, unobtrusive neutrals to avoid potential regret later—especially since many of us have seen firsthand the impact color has in making or breaking spaces.

That’s where the experts come in—those industry professionals with years of education and experience in color theory, who can skillfully incorporate our favorite hues into the design and décor of our homes without overwhelming the underlying architecture. In that spirit, we partnered once again with the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID-MN) for our annual Life in Color competition, where we showcase the association’s designers’ best use of color artistry and innovation. This year, we received 26 submissions from 17 talented designers, and our jury evaluated each one on the creative use of color and how well the design fulfilled the project’s goals.

You can check out the six winning projects in the following paragraphs, and perhaps one of them will become the catalyst for a newfound commitment to color—after all, with so many shades to choose from, it does begin to feel like a missed opportunity to continue sticking to blacks, whites, and those ever-present beiges and greiges. Perhaps it’s time to take a page out of the younger generation’s playbook and start to maximize the color in your own life. –AB

Color Pop!
Brooke Voss Design

Alyssa Lee

Vibrant moments abound within each space of this colorful abode. From the dining and living rooms to the kids’ bedrooms, a wild, yet cohesive theme emerges. The walls were intended to be a white, blank canvas so furnishings and décor could take center stage. Tay says this project truly “represents” the Life in Color competition, adding that “the mix of colors and prints makes the space feel so joyous to be in.” Hickey chimes in: “Fun use of ‘statement’ elements that offer intricacy and detail at close range. [The] intense color patterns define [the] space and offer visual compression [and] release-type moments.”

Colonial Color
Martha O’Hara Interiors

A renovation in an almost century-old home is tricky business, but this family of six jumped in and took it head on. Once gloomy and crowded, the back hallway was transformed into a spacious mudroom—now boasting plenty of storage, natural light, locker-style cabinets in a glorious green, unlacquered brass pulls, and contrasting checkered flooring. Not only is the green a well-loved color in today’s time, but it is also a historically relevant selection for the 1938 Colonial-style home. Tay comments, “The hint of gold on the handles gives the space a very polished feel.”

A Study That Stuns
Lucy Interior Designs


Needing a dedicated space for her academic research and studies, the client of this color-packed study can now cocoon herself in philosophy, psychology, and poetry.
A blush-pink curved sofa, an emerald-green velvet ottoman, and a wall of floor-to-ceiling shelves decked with books, décor, and knickknacks create a “very successful use of rich tones and patterns, supplemented with material textures,” comments Hickey. Bloomquist adds, “This project is truly a lesson in taking risks with bold, unexpected color. The reward is exponentially fruitful.”

Springtime Vibes
Kate Roos Design

“[There is] careful tonal composition—restful and fresh,” Hickey says of this kitchen’s timeless coloration of spring green cabinetry and rift white oak accents. With a crisp white tile backsplash and quartz countertops, the soft green makes a smashing, yet subtle statement. Recessed and undercabinet lighting, plus lots of storage, create a high-functioning space that honors the home’s midcentury roots—exactly what the homeowners requested. “There’s no denying it—green is hot right now,” says Bloomquist. “From more muted shades to brighter, happier tones like this one, you really can’t go wrong.”

Doctor’s Orders
Brooke Voss Design

Alyssa Lee

Alyssa Lee

A fun, colorful, and sophisticated office design perfectly reflects a chiropractor’s personality. With a goal of creating the opposite of a “typical” doctor’s office, the designer incorporated patterned walls, tiles, rugs, and hues of bright yellow and blue that create a playful, enjoyable atmosphere. The color in this space is advantageously used to provide comfort and joy for all: “The use of colors and prints is absolutely clever!” says Tay. “[It makes] the entire office feel so happy and welcoming.”

Happy Hot Spot
Che Bella Interiors

Against neutral walls and luxurious walnut cabinets, bright colors and touches of modern design complement this homeowner’s high energy—cultivating the perfect social setting in the lower level of an entertainer’s oasis. The playful oranges and blues pair perfectly with the fresh green tiles of the bathroom, creating a cohesive design alive with individuality at every corner. (Do you see that dinosaur head mounted on a wall?) According to Hickey, the design demonstrates a “great understanding of how visual texture modulates color. The interplay of grout patterns with the material colors adds depth.”

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