6 COLOR SCHEME RULES
- Carry a main color throughout the house. It doesn’t have to be used in the same way in each room, or even the same intensity, but keep a unifying thread of color in all the rooms.
- If you’re new to decorating, fewer colors are certainly easier and less intimidating to work with (start with 3). Hopefully with my guidance and a little decorating courage, you’ll be able to expand your view and try mixing multiple patterns and colors but still keep a cohesive look.
- Using equal amounts of all 3 colors does NOT give a balanced look. The room will actually end up feeling jumbled – you need to have your dominant color be 50-70% of the surface of the room (depending upon how much you love it). That means it will usually be on the floors and/or walls. A secondary color would show up on the major pieces of furniture and drapes. Finally, your third and smallest color will be your accent color and will be found in accessories, art, pillows, lampshades, etc.
- Make sure adjoining rooms share colors in common. Again, the proportions don’t have to be exactly the same, but there should be some color coordination. For example, you could use a tan wall in rooms 1 & 2 and accent with medium and dark green. Then in room 3, your wall could be a soft green with accents in tan and dark green, maybe throw in a splash of red for spice. Then, in room 4, take the tan wall a shade darker, use the red as the main accent and a little bit of green here and there. Imagine how the color palette flows from room to room, keeping the same colors of tan, red and green throughout but in varying proportions.
- Use your accessories, drapes, pillows and wallpaper to reinforce your color scheme or introduce a touch of a new color.
- Use a bold, contrasting or accent color to help highlight or create a focal point. This could be painting an accent wall, painting a fireplace, or using patterned drapes on a window with a plain view to ‘manufacture’ a focal point.
For those of you who work better with visuals, here’s how a color scheme might develop:
This ‘fabric’ has lots of colors to pull into a variety of rooms and would suit several styles. Because it’s a modern interpretation of a paisley, it could work in a modern room, certainly a traditional room and would be a good compromise pattern in a couple’s bedroom.
The key to successfully mixing patterns is 2 fold: using a similar color palette (it’s okay to have one or two coordinating but different colors in one of the patterns) and scale. Scale is perhaps the hardest thing to see. If you’ve got a large swirly, busy pattern like this, calm it down with some nice wide stripes. Generally florals or organic shapes and stripes complement each other well. Little, dense patterns need to be contrasted with large, bold patterns. A busy damask is beautiful against a stripe. Do you see a pattern developing? You want to pair curvy with straight lines and small with large patterns.
Working from this pattern, here’s some options on mixing fabrics and creating a cohesive color scheme.
This tan is pulled from the orangey tone in the paisley and then softened to a tan for the walls. I found a great stripe that complements the paisley colors beautifully and could be used for an accent chair. Try the paisley as draperies or an ottoman. The darker orange and bright green would be small accents like trim, lampshades, vases.
Moving to the next room, you keep the same tan walls and stripe fabric. This time the stripe moves from the accent chair to some pillows on this green sofa or as an edging to solid drapes. The floral picks up the colors but introduces a small amount of a new pattern.
Now you’ve decided you’re ready to be bold in a room so you choose this delicious green from the paisley (it’s greyed down a little so it’s not quite so bright). The stripe still works beautifully but this time you introduce a chunk of a solid beige, maybe to paint the fireplace or for draperies. The little, sweet floral could be used sparingly just to spark up the color scheme.
Now you’ve moved to the back of the house and this little room is darker than the others. Now you pick the lightest color from your inspiration piece for the walls. For this high-energy family room, you choose a blue sofa and the bright orange to really punch up the colors a bit. The paisley is still the glue holding the color scheme together and could be used prominently as draperies again, as trim, or maybe it’s your rug……
This is only one scenario built from this fabric. The possibilities are endless. Let your inner decorator loose and put your imagination to work seeing how you could build a cohesive plan from a single inspiration piece. Need help? Ask me.