The number one rule for adding color to your space is that there are no rules for adding color. With a seemingly limitless variety of colors from one end of the visual spectrum to the other, there seem to be just as many ways of incorporating them around your home. However, there are ways that color can be used to create some sort of effect. Whether it’s for visual interest or to make a space seem larger or perhaps to bring a look together into a more cohesive style, color can achieve great functionality when used strategically. Here are some considerations for adding color to your space.
Glance through rooms in any designer’s portfolio or home decor magazine and you’ll see a pattern emerge: The most effective rooms break color into percentages of 60, 30, and 10. Interestingly, explanations as to why this is so will vary from one person to the next. It seems like as visual creatures, we see the 60-percent color as being the unifying theme of the room with the 30-percent hue providing visual interest and the remaining 10 percent comprising the accents.
To put this another way, if a room was a men’s suit, then the walls would be the jacket and pants, the upholstery would be the shirt, and the tie would be accent pieces like throw pillows or floral arrangements.
Pull from Patterns
If you’re looking for color inspiration for a room, you could pull inspiration from the room’s existing contents by referring to the most prominent print. This is usually a furnishing of some sort such as a soft, but it could also bedding, a shower curtain, or other prominent patterns. Painting your walls one of the colors in the upholstery of your sofa is a very effective way to not only incorporate color, but to reinforce the look of your room by repeating its motifs in other ways and other places.
Emote with Color and Contrast
When we see a color, we tend to make associations with that color. Many times we associate specific feelings or memories with colors. As such, you should consider the feeling or “vibe” you want a room to convey. For example, a color scheme of powder blue and cream would convey whimsy while bright primaries suggest youth and energy. Additionally, colors with high contrast — like black and white — serve to better define a room and its contents than using colors with low contrast such as using multiple shades of gray.
There are certain colors that are more closely associated than others, ones that you see frequently paired together in various types of Christmas decor as well because their complementary colors, which means they sit on the opposite sides of the color wheel. Complementary colors are a type of color scheme in which you incorporate a color and its opposite like yellow and purple or blue and orange.
Another popular color scheme is to use analogous colors, or colors that are next to each other on the color wheel like green and yellow or red and orange. Choosing a complementary or analogous color scheme is a great place to start if you’re wanting to add color to a space because they narrow down the numerous color choices to more specific clusters from which you can choose the ones you like best or that go with your existing decor.
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Dane O'Leary is a full-time freelance writer and design blogger for Modernize.com. He has degrees in psychology and anthropology with additional study in journalism, graphic design, and public relations. Dane is currently working on his debut novel.