Start with a color you love.
Look in your closet. What colors do you wear again and again? What memories or feelings come to mind when you see different colors? Some studies show that red stimulates appetite, green conveys a sense of renewal and growth, and blue promotes peacefulness, all of which may or may not be true for you. It’s important to begin with what you love so your décor stays expressive of you.
Think about colors found together in nature.
If one of your favorite colors is turquoise, the beach can provide inspiration with its sea-green waves, pink sunsets, and light-colored sand. Likewise, if a rich, dark purple draws you in, perhaps an eggplant surrounded by the greens and browns of the leaves and earth is the way to go. Following nature’s lead can help you select harmonious hues to go with your favorite color.
Use a color wheel to build your color palette.
Originally created by Sir Isaac Newton, the color wheel is arranged so that the three primary colors—red, yellow, and blue — are evenly spaced apart. When they are mixed together, they form secondary colors, which are green, orange, and violet. When primary and secondary colors are mixed together, they form tertiary colors, or yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, and yellow-green.
If you want your décor to have a relaxed, continuous mood to it, choose colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. If you want a more dynamic, energetic feel in your room, choose complementary colors that are across from each other on the color wheel.
When choosing colors from the wheel, you can vary the intensity of tones by choosing a pastel version of one color and a rich, darker version of another. The color wheel provides a useful guide, but the actual intensity of color you choose to use may vary, according to your taste
It’s okay to have different colors in each room, but when rooms open onto one another, avoid using radically different colors so your space doesn’t look choppy.
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Neutral colors coordinate with most surroundings.
White, beige, taupe, gray, and black can provide visual stability and work well with all the colors on the color wheel. Many color schemes rely upon three colors to provide unity, with a neutral color as one of the three. A neutral color provides a strong base that helps showcase the other colors. If you have rich furniture colors and vibrant art, keeping walls neutral is a great choice. However, if you have neutral furnishings, go bold with colorful walls and accents.
Essentially, monochromatic colors are the same hue with different tones (amount of black or white added to it) to it. This can be a way to ensure that colors work well together and create a serene feel in a room. Warning: Monochrome color palettes easily risk coming off as generic, so it’s a good idea to have at least a little contrasting accent color somewhere in a monochromatic space. Use an accent color at least twice in a room to make sure the color theme feels unified.
Employ the 60/30/10 rule.
One of the ways your décor can achieve a cohesive feel is by balancing colors in the room. The 60/30/10 rule provides an easy way to do this. Divide the colors in your room so that 60 percent will be the dominant color, 30 percent will be a secondary color, and 10 percent will be an accent color. When using this rule, generally the walls will be the dominant color, the upholstery, bedding, and window treatments will be the secondary color, and pieces such as throw pillows or a lamp will provide a shot of visual interest in an accent color.
Follow the exterior environment for color placement.
Replicating where colors are on the outside can help provide a balanced feel inside, too. Typically, this means using a darker color under our feet, like the earth itself, medium tones at eye level, and lighter colors upward, like the sky.
Consider your décor’s lighting.
Color changes dramatically depending on lighting, so it’s important to consider windows, lamps, and lighting fixtures when choosing a color scheme. Does the room get northern light, which is cooler or blue-toned, or a warmer, orange-toned southern light? What kind of light bulbs do you use? Standard incandescent bulbs give off a yellowish, warm white, which might intensify a palette with a lot of yellows and oranges more than you want. Rooms with lots of light can handle darker, richer colors, while low-light areas might need more medium-tones or even pastels. Essentially, no color palette choices are foolproof without first putting them in the context of the lighting in the room.