Decorating with Color

find the Perfect Palette for your home

Decorating with Color

Using color in decorating is not difficult if you can take two simple steps.

First, have the courage to try something new, and second, take the time to come up with a plan for your room, space or home. I love the example shown above, with the neutral foundation and pops of bright and happy colors in the Family Room.

It always looks so quick and easy on minute the homeowner is listening to the makeover specialist talking about how much needs to be done in the place, and the next thing you know, there is a really cool new shade on the walls, the recently selected colors are sprinkled throughout the room nicely, and everyone is nodding and smiling. Yeah, right.

If it were just that simple!

There is a little bit more that goes on when decorating with color but it’s not rocket science.

Consider this simple yet unique living area, courtesy of

We see soft aqua, sea green and neutral beige sofa with all white trim and accent pieces.

Could be ho hum...but add the beautiful greenery and flowers as well as bold pops of accent colors, and there you go! Great looking space.

Decorating With Colors

Have fun with these examples of
Decorating with Color!

Use bold colors on the walls with gusto, as in this cream and brown Living Area. The sail cloth drapes were taken from ordinary to eye-catching with the use of acrylic paint and a easy and cost effective is that?

Notice how the furnishings and accents are kept low key as far as color goes so they don't compete with the deeper color and pattern.

Decorating with Neutrals can be anything but boring...the use of varying tones, textures and fabrics can actually be fascinating!

Sunny yellow walls create a bright and happy back drop for the colorful (really colorful!) furniture in this Cottage Style Living Room.

Notice how the fireplace, built-in cabinetry and trim are white, the floors are neutral and the coffee table is white. This allows the bold colors to shine without becoming overdone and over the top. See the rest of this Colorful Lake Michigan Cottage.

Lovers of the color Green will appreciate this timeless Casual Style Bedroom with pale green walls. It sets of the pewter iron bed nicely and makes the shades of purple and deeper green pop.

I like the overall simplicity of the space...not too much going on in the room...just enough.

Have you ever wondered why you prefer certain colors over others? Learn more about discovering your Color Personality.

Soft pink walls (who would have thought?) set the subtle back drop for the bright greens, oranges, yellows and blues in the accents of this Multi Purpose Dining Room. The grass cloth backing on the open shelves has personality, too.

See more photos of this fun and functional Dining Space.

Here are some tips for you to find the perfect balance for decorating with color:

1. Decide what your color palette is, or will be, if you are starting out with a fresh white space.

If you are renting your home, the walls might need to be left as is, so your color palette will be determined using the furnishings and accessories alone.

No furniture either? Then you truly can begin your color adventure with a clean palette!

If you have existing furniture, you’ll be using the colors found in these pieces as part of your color scheme.

How to come up with that color palette?

Think about what types of home decorating photos excite you, and consider creating a folder, Pinterest board or online collection of these homes, rooms and spaces.

What is the common color, and treatment of color in them?

If the photos you are drawn to are all in soft neutral colors, you probably won’t be happy with Tangerine Tango (Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2012) as a color in your home’s palette.

Selecting a Color Palett

But, if you love photos with bold use of color throughout the space, you’ll most likely want to put some of that same drama into your own home.

I have found this process very successful with my design clients, so go ahead and give it a try, particularly if you feel clueless about the whole process.

I love the bold use of pinks and subtle accents of yellow, green and blue in this playful living area from

Your photo collection will tell a story about your interior decorating style preferences, too.

It is helpful to create a color palette with two or three main colors, then an accent color or two.

In our home we had transitioned to a contemporary feel with our decor, and the color palette includes a light sage green, coffee brown and a soft orange, with accents of aqua and deep gold. It’s a nice clean look and I emphasized different colors throughout the house on the walls and as accents. Here is a photo of the Living Room:

Contemporary Living Room

Here are examples of the three main colors on the palette in my home:

Sherwin Williams Jav

Java  #6090

Sherwin Williams Outgoing Orange

Outgoing Orange  #6641

Sherwin Williams Great Gree

Great Green  #6430

These are the two accent colors I used, along with off-white:

Sherwin Williams Hazel

Hazel    #6471

Sherwin Williams June Da

June Day   #6682

2. Determine the plan for where the colors in your palette will be placed.

This usually requires some forethought, because you want to be pretty darn sure about that wall color before spending the time and money on it. Even if you are not going to literally paint all of the walls in your home now, it is still a really good idea to decide which color will go on which walls/rooms, etc, and will save you time and aggravation in the future.

Think about your lifestyle and how much time you spend in each space, as well as what activities take place there. For example, decorating a master bedroom, including wall color, may lead you down a different road than a themed bathroom. So, plan ahead.

3. Decorating with color will always include the actual selection of paint, fabric, rugs, artwork, etc, so this is where it can become a little tricky.

Using color in your hom

I always advise having something with you that represents all of the colors in your palette, to keep your decisions consistent and on track.

This may be a fabric swatch, a collection of paint chips, a scarf you love that has all of your colors in it...there is no right or wrong choice. Just keep it with you.

I love the bright, happy color scheme in this casual kitchen, courtesy of

If you don’t know what to use, paint chips are always a good choice. If you have identified a particular shade of blue on a swatch with six different intensities, for example, just be sure to mark your selection to avoid confusion.

4. When it comes to wall color, try a little sense of adventure!

It is always amazing to me, to see how a room can change with even a subtle shade of color on the walls. Instant drama, personality, charm, calming effect...the choice of wall color can definitely impact the mood of the space.

Many times when I am working with a client, I will select a wall color that is a shade or two deeper than they initially pick. There are other variables involved for sure, such as amount of natural light in the space, how deep the shade is to begin with, etc.

But, sometimes just going a shade or two deeper on the color chip when decorating with color will result in a beautiful and memorable space.

If there is any doubt, purchase a tester or quart of the color and put two coats on a white poster board. Try the color out by moving the board around the room at different times of day and evening.

Decorating with color can be a little bit scary, but follow these simple tips and when the project is complete you’ll be smiling, too!

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