The Idealist

Get the Look: Citrine and Olive in this Vitra-inspired living room

Some colour combinations are loaded: with meaning, with vitality, with nostalgia for a specific era in time. Such a combo is citrine and olive, the sunny golden yellow and rich deep green of the Mediterranean.

Citrine takes its name from the coloured quartz which can occur in a range of yellows. Olive, of course, is the deep rich green of the leaves and fruit of the olive tree. Together they create a perfect balance that we’ve seen put to good use by interior designers of the mid-century modern era, such as the Eames and George Nelson, for companies like Vitra.

Vitra is the Swiss family-owned company whose name is synonymous with streamlined and liveable design for residential and commercial interiors. Founded in 1950, Vitra began collaborating with great designers from the outset – early partnerships with Charles and Ray Eames and Nelson set the tone for years to come. Today Vitra is renowned for well-made furniture and its work with designers that reinterpret the values of the past in designs that are made for modern living.

A perfect example is the modular sofa designed by Vitra regular Jasper Morrison. It offers maximum comfort and flexibility – add seating and a chaise or ottoman as you wish.

The sleek, angular unit goes well with the strong round contours of this blonde wood Guéridon Bas coffee table designed by Jean Prouvé.

Over the years Vitra made full use of new technologies in moulded plastic and these occasional chairs by Jasper Morrison are a good example of the state of the art. They are reminiscent of a classic wooden chair, but are solidly indoor/outdoor and have a sophisticated built-in flex mechanism and a choice of two-tone colouring. And this handsome Hal Ply wood chair, also by Morrison, is a curvier iteration of the dining chair.

Vitra pieces are well-made, very attractive, and worth every penny. But you can also get a similar look on the high street with lower priced versions sourced elsewhere. We’ve discovered some great comparable pieces for a Vitra-inspired living room in shades of citrine and olive with pale wood accents.

Take this yellow fabric sofa from Habitat, for example. Sunny yellow, it features comfy cushions and a sleek profile, with a chaise extension on the left and wooden legs, £765. Habitat also carries a slightly more formal version – more formally tufted, this modular unit can be upholstered in either green or citrine (and a bunch of other colours).

When it comes to anchor pieces of furniture for your living room, it’s important to choose colours for your comfort level – you have to live with them after all. Select a more neutral tone with the odd citrine or deep green accent, or go for the boldest colour and temper it with other furnishings and accessories in more muted shades.

Either way the Vitra-inspired look we’re building from today features lots of pale wood – as in this oak coffee table from Choice. £195 Or go straight to the source for Vitra’s Noguchi classic coffee table in maple and glass, £1260. Chairs in the Vitra tradition, like these natural oak veneer ones from Habitat, are also an option. £60

We also suggest adding smaller accent pieces in natural materials like these pale beech wooden bowls, or even greenery in terra cotta pots relocated from the garden (these one are personalized too!), to add texture and dimension to the room. £15/£30 Textiles that pick up on the citrine and olive theme can easily be made into curtains or soft furnishings to pull the entire look together. This yardage is available at John Lewis; it has the requisite retro feel as well. £17.60/metre

The Vitra look is sophisticated and warm; aspiring to its streamlined and classic values will land you in a living room to be proud of.

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Vitra product images are (c) Vitra; all others courtesy of retailers featured.

  • Ellie lives in a village outside Oxford and works in fashion in London. She loves the vintage look, traditional English afternoon tea, prosecco and hiking in the Lake District.

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