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Travel Palette: Downtown Durham

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Charming City, Playful Palette. 

Channeling sunshine, blooming trees, and warm weather with this week’s travel palette.  This week’s travel palette is inspired by this photo taken while exploring downtown Durham, NC back in March of 2019. I couldn’t resist casting a big cheesy smile while thawing out from the long Chicago winter during a long weekend trip to North Carolina. Reviewing old travel photos has been giving me a bit of hope during this time. Enjoy this travel palette inspired by the charming architecture and streets of Durhams’s historical downtown area.  

 The travel palettes series was created to expand creative horizons and explore the correlation between travel, inspiration, colors, textures, and design.


Downtown Durham

Last year in March of 2019, I was able to peel myself away from work for a much needed weekend getaway and girls weekend. I was able to get a taste of the Triangle Area in North Carolina. During my stay, I spent a day exploring the city of Durham. 

About Durham, North Carolina

Durham has a population of approximately 280,00 people and is one of the cites that makes up the Triangle Area which consists of Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh. Durham is also home to Duke Univesity. The Triangle Area has also been named the Research Triangle as there is a strong academic influence in the area with Duke University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University located all within 30 minutes of each other. 

My experience of Durham was that it was cute, charming, and a bit of a “hipster” pocket of North Carolina catering to the higher student/university population. I enjoyed visiting the local farmer’s market and connecting with local artisans. While I was there, I couldn’t resist getting some pottery and fresh flowers. 

After visiting the farmers market, we continued our explorations and wandered around downtown Durham. The building behind me is the U.S. Post Office which was built in 1934. This is just a taste of history in this downtown area. Window shopping and soaking in this city’s charm on a sunny spring day was quite the treat. It definitely was a different vibe than Chicago! 





This week’s travel palette was inspired by this photo captured in downtown Durham. It captured some of the historical charms of this area’s downtown. The creamy white Old Post Office building with the sage green roof was a natural focal point in the photo and was a source of color inspiration. The terracotta-colored brick, blooming trees, and clear skies helped frame this scene and served as palette inspiration. The palette creates a playful and refreshing color ensemble.  The sources of each color are indicated below and then matched with a Pantone color. 




This palette plays with texture and fresh colors. The delicate dotted motif is picked up in the patterned tile, textured drapery, and patterned upholstery. The terracotta tones of the upholstery and tile represent the brick buildings in the scene. The green upholstery represents the building’s roof and the periwinkle glass rounds out the palette with a refreshing twist. The palette blends earthy tones, fresh and light colors, and a soothing green for this calming yet invigorating palette. This color palette creates a fresh take on spring vibes. 

The product info for each material is described and linked below.

Patterned Porcelain Tile

Creating the backdrop of this palette is this tile from Stone Source. Giocare tile in the color Decor is a porcelain tile with a small dotted pattern. The dots overlap in varying colors, creating this woven-like pattern when viewed from afar. The colors of the individual dots of this tile are consistent with the colors of the palette. The colors include a sage-y green, periwinkle, terracotta, and gray. I love how the tile has a completely different visual experience depending on whether one is up close up or far away. This tile can be used for floor and wall applications.

Stone Source -Giocare – Decor Tile & Install (Photo Source)


The delicate flowers in the trees are represented by this drapery from HBF Textiles. The drapery, Vault Lights, shown in the color Tribeca, is a textured nubby drapery fabric. This textile can also be used as a wrapped panel fabric. Vault Lights has a heavy visual texture with woven colored dots of cream and periwinkle. This compliments the periwinkle and cream colors of the palette represented in the tile and colored glass. This fabric will sure be one to provide dimension and visual interest as a window treatment. 

Sustainability Highlights: SCS Indoor Advantage, Gold


HBF Textiles – Vault Lights – Tribeca & Install (Photo Source)

PARTLY CLOUDY SKIES: Clarus Glassboard
Clarus Glassboard – CBC 207

The deep periwinkle-blue colored glass represents the sky behind the layers of trees. The mixture of clouds and sky created a more periwinkle tone in this particular part of the sky. This color incorporates a playful and fresh cool tone into the palette. The glass board could be incorporated into several different applications, from desk screens to room dividers, to glass boards like pictured below. A colored glass board is a functional way to incorporate branded colors, promote collaboration, or define a space in a colorful yet sleek and stylish way.

Sustainability: Indoor Advantage Gold Certified

(Photo Source)



Maharam- Pepper – Marengo
FLOWERING TREES: Small Patterned Upholstery

This upholstery is unique as it contains subtle introductions of color through colored dots delicately splattered throughout the fabric. The fabric colors of the dots coordinate with the colors of the color palette including terracotta, cream, and periwinkle. This upholstery is ideal for applications that are looking to introduce some visual interest and accent colors without a big pattern or bold application of color. 

Sustainability Highlights: Contains recycled polyester, Greenguard Gold certified

(Photo Source)



Maharam – Article – Desert


BRICK BUILDINGS: Solid Vinyl Upholstery

Helping ground the palette is this solid vinyl upholstery from Maharam. Maharam’s Article vinyl in the color Desert is a terracotta-colored upholstery with subtle graining.

One characteristic of this upholstery is that is it has an anti-microbial finish and is bleach cleanable. This is ideal for cleaning and maintenance, which is important to keep in mind, especially during this time. 

Sustainability: Non-Phthalate Vinyl

(Photo Source)

Virginia Tile – Design to Positive – D2P 9

This matte earthy ceramic tile is from the Design to Positive collection available through Virginia Tile. This tile in the color crimson has a matte finish and texture that is directly inspired by the brick buildings in this historic downtown area. This rich, earthy terracotta color is represented in many brick buildings throughout downtown Durham. This color is also subtly picked up in the pattered tile and patterned upholstery dots for further coordination. 

(Photo Source)


Bernhardt Textiles – Daybreak – Sage
GREEN ROOF: Green Upholstery

Rounding out the palette is this upholstery from Bernhardt Textiles. This upholstery, Daybreak, in the color, sage, is represented in the inspiration photo as the green roof of the building in the distance. This building is the focal point of the photo and it easily caught my eye with its sage-colored roof shingles. This textile is tonal with a lighter green and darker green accentuating this tight-knit pattern and visual. The sage green adds some soothing tones to the palette while adding to the earthy feel. It also provides a refreshing and soothing element to the palette with its bluer undertones and helps complete this palette.

Sustainability Highlights: 98% Post-Consumer Recycled Material

(Photo Source)




I hope you enjoyed this fun palette! More unique palettes coming soon! 

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Design to five is a blog enhancing the link between culture, travel, and design. The blog showcases products from local, sustainable, business from around the world, and travel-related content to encourage affordable, conscious, and educational adventures for design lovers.

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