• Heather Holcombe

Finding Color Inspiration in Claude Monet's Kitchen and Dining Room


A picture of an all-blue kitchen recently caught my attention. Shades of blue - bright to pastel - cover almost every surface of its walls, cabinets, and even the kitchen table. It looks simultaneously outdated and beautifully timeless, probably because this isn't any ordinary room. It was once Claude Monet's kitchen at his home in Giverny, France. And there's a lot we could learn from it and the adjoining dining room painted in bright yellow.


Amid today's popularity of white kitchens and neutral-colored rooms, Monet's almost 100-year old kitchen and sunflower-yellow dining room can offer us some excellent lessons on decorating with color. You don't even have to travel there! I've never been there. My perspective comes from studying pictures of the house.

The Use of Color:

Those of you who delight in neutral-colors and muted spaces might cringe at an all-blue kitchen with its various shades. The yellow dining room might be too bright for your taste. That's fine. We can't all love color. However, we can draw lessons from one of the world's great painters. How and where he used color in his house can teach us a lot about combining colors - whether they are bright or muted. Let's take a closer look at two rooms: the kitchen and dining rooms, the home's most colorful.

Monet's Kitchen:

The kitchen is a lesson in how to layer color in a space. Its blue and white Rouen tiles coordinate and contrast beautifully with the pastel and bright blue wall colors, the floor, and the room's copper accessories. (As a kitchen designer, I fell in love with the impressive stove and its multiple ovens, clearly an item ahead of its time!


I see about four shades of blue in Monet's kitchen images. (I've never visited but hope to go one day.) At first glance, we might think that there is no restraint in using color; after all, the room is bathed in color. But let's look at it another way.

Lessons: I think the pastel blue serves as a neutral or foundation for the other blues. The Rouen navy blue and white tiles, the trim moldings, the terracotta-colored floor, and the beautiful copper pots lining the walls create contrast and add interest. He didn't just drown a room in blue. He used various shades of it.


Tips: When selecting colors for your kitchen, keeping the above perspective in mind, ask yourself:

  • What is your neutral color selection from which you will build the rest of the color scheme?

  • What are other colors will you use?

  • Where can you insert your colors?

  • How will you add contrast and interest to the space?

Monet's Dining Room:

The dining room is painted in a bright yellow, which reminds me of the yellow found on sunflower petals. Monet introduces contrast and interest in the dining room through details and accessories. The blue earthenware crockery and the yellow and blue ceramics (ordered by Monet himself) in the cabinets, as well as the terracotta-red tile floors, add a layer of interest - as do his beloved Japanese prints. Other pops of color include the jade-green vases on the fireplace mantel and the bright green porch railings outside visible through the French doors.

Lessons: Add layers of interest to a room through the use of color and accessories. The blue and terracotta-red colors of Monet's dining room are also seen in the adjoining kitchen. It creates a sense of continuity between the spaces despite their different wall colors.


Tips: When designing a dining room adjacent or visible to the kitchen, create color continuity between the spaces.

  • Like Monet did with the blue and terracotta colors, select a cross-over color/s to use in both rooms.

  • Blue and yellow might seem vastly different, but they're almost opposite on the color wheel, making them suitable complementary colors. Opposites attract.

  • Decide where (ceiling, floor, fabrics, fabrics, etc.) to introduce pops of color or contrasts in the dining room.

Conclusion:

Inspiration for our homes can be found anywhere, even in the pictures of an almost 100-year old house. A master with color, Claude Monet's rooms are inspirational and provide unique ideas for using color. Our homes should always be a reflection of ourselves, our tastes, and our lifestyles. As an interior designer, I work with clients to guide them through the design process, but it's always about them and their tastes, not mine. I'm there to support them in creating a home that reflects them.

You can learn more about the home at:

Claude Monet-Giverny Foundation


Architectural Digest, Forget the Gardens: The Best Part of Giverny Is Monet's Kitchen

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Giverny, the House:

First, a short history lesson. Located roughly 50 miles from Paris, Monet and his family, a blended marriage with eight children in total, lived in this house beginning in 1883.


He personally directed the house's renovation, retaining its pink-painted exterior walls and green doors, railings, and shutters. He drew from colors in his own palette, including bright yellow in the dining room and blues for the kitchen.


In 1966, the home was donated by his son to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. It became a museum open to the public in 1980, after completion of large-scale restoration work. The restoration included replanting Monet's famous gardens as they once were. Today, it is the second most visited sight in Normandy, behind Mont St. Michel.