How To: Choose a Home Color Scheme

We’re in the process of considering our home as a whole and what colors to use throughout our spaces to make the casa more cohesive but still reflective of our personalities. We haven’t mastered these steps yet, and are still decorating several empty rooms and even have a room or two to repaint after our first attempt was a big fail. But why be stingy with the info we’re picking up along the way? 

Here’s where we are starting from. Side note: we created this little floor plan for free online at It’s a pretty sweet little tool.

It’s not always an easy task to choose colors that reflect your personality without sometimes going over the top. We’ve all been there, “cough, cough”, may still be there, “cough”, master bedroom, “cough”.

Apparently you shouldn’t decide that you just love a color called “green energy” and then slap it all over the walls of the largest room in your house. Hmmm… we’re learning every day.

Step One: Understand What Feelings Color Can Invoke

  • Red: confidence, excitement, energy, hunger (ever notice how most fast food chains have red in their signs?)
  • Orange: warm, vibrant, spice, demands attention
  • Yellow: optimism, inspiration
  • Green: harmony, energy, nature, stability
  • Blue: calm, cool (fun fact: blue and white is the most commonly used design color scheme)
  • Purple: imaginative, luxurious, romantic
  • Black: elegance, mystery, power, sophistication
  • Brown: earthy, content, simple
  • Pink: feminine, innocence, romantic
  • White: clean, youthful, refreshing
  • Gray: classic, intelligence, versatile

Step Two: Figure Out What You Like

Look through magazines, watch HGTV, look at your closet. If you’re willing to wear it on your body every day you’re probably going to like it on your walls. Unless you’re in the market to totally redecorate or have just moved in to a blank slate, look at the furnishings you already have and do not plan to replace.

Be sure to test your colors in real paint on the wall and watch it over a couple of days in both the dark and light.

Step Three: Look at Your Home as a Whole

Keep the colors in adjoining rooms compatible. They obviously don’t have to be the same color (what fun is that) but make sure that they don’t clash. Also keep in mind the larger items that you cannot or may not want to change such as cohesive trim color, a fireplace or mantel, views from large windows, or appliances.

It may be best to look at your home as an entire scheme that can be monochromatic, analogous or complementary.

Monochromatic color schemes use tints and shades of the same color to create one look. Interest can be added by using varied textures and materials.

Analogous schemes get a little more technical using colors that are next to one another on the color wheel Usually one color is dominant. Combinations might include blue and green, red and purple, yellow and orange.

Complementary color schemes work with colors that are opposite to one another on the color wheel and can sometimes be quite dramatic. If you try this use a warm shade against a cooler shade of whatever two colors you work with.

Step Four: Choose 3 Colors for Each Room

Shoot for three colors, one light, one medium and one darker. Three colors will serve as your foundation; you can always tie in other colors in small doses through patterns, throw pillows, etc.

Light colors usually work best as a background or wall color for example. Floors can obviously be darker than your walls and ceiling, think of your hardwoods and rugs. This will help ground the room.

Save the medium tone for your large items that anchor your room like sofas, bedding and drapery. Use the darkest or boldest color in accent pieces like small items of furniture, accessories, throws, etc. The eye will naturally gravitate to these items to make sure to distribute them evenly throughout the room.

The best thing to remember in all of this is that painting can be fun and you can always cover it up with more paint! Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself painting a room two or three times before you find the perfect shade. Love bold colors but not sure about painting your whole room bright green? Flirt a little bit by just painting an accent wall and live with that for a while before committing to the whole room. If you love it, it’s worth a shot.

Photos: House Beautiful

This entry was posted in Decorating Ideas, Design School, Feeling Inspired, Tips and Tricks. Bookmark the permalink.

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