Color Your World: 6 Tips for Decorating with Color

August 08, 2014

Color Your World: 6 Tips for Decorating with Color

Decorating with color can be intimidating. So much so that many nervous decorators stick to only neutral hues out of fear of making a mistake. But the right colors can do so much to make a room feel polished, pulled together–and uniquely you.

Try these six tips for adding some color to your home. You’ll be glad you did.

1. Check the runway. Want to know which colors will feel freshest right now? Get inspired by fashion. This year’s runways are loaded with bright, unexpected color pairings like blue and orange, purple and yellow, and pink and green.

You could build on that trend by trying an unusual accent piece like this orange pouf seat in a cheery chevron pattern. A perfect complement to the orange seat is a whimsical assortment of fabulous blue-and-white pillows.

2. Start small. Remember, you don’t have to paint the entire room in a bold shade to get the advantages of color. You can begin with accent pieces, like the pouf and pillows in the example above, or in your wall art or area rug selection. Any of these options make a great, non permanent way to get a feel for how the colors you like work in the room you’re styling.

3. Work with the space you have. Choose colors that enhance the best qualities of the space you’re decorating and speak to the way you’ll use the room. For instance, light colors can make dark spaces feel larger and more serene, while rich hues can make a room feel warmer and livelier. That’s why cool, tranquil blues are often chosen for bedrooms, while intense reds are saved for high-energy areas like family rooms and kitchens. (For more on color and mood, see …).

For more ideas on decorating with color, check out

4. Look for complements. Using high-contrast complementary colors can really make your room pop. It’s easy to determine complementary hues with a simple color wheel — a nifty little tool developed hundreds of years ago by Sir Isaac Newton as part of his study of the color spectrum. Just choose two colors that reside across the wheel from each other.

5. Use the right ratio.  When you stick with a tight palette of just a couple of main hues, your space will take on a bold designer look. In fact, many designers swear by the basic 60-30-10 rule. That is, incorporate your main color into 60 percent of your space, your secondary hue in 30 percent of the room, and then select an accent color for 10 percent of the area.

6. Layer on patterns. After you choose a color scheme, start layering your room with super-hot patterns for pillows, curtains, napkins, and tablecloths. Animal prints, chevron, and Ikat designs and large-scale florals are all worth considering. Mixing and matching multiple patterns in varying scales is a hip way to infuse style into any space.

Susan Brierly

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