Connect Your Rooms with Color

Color is the most important element in decorating, hands down, so knowing how to develop a color scheme that works throughout your home can seem pretty overwhelming. But don't make it more complicated than it needs to be - decide the colors you love, and go from there. Here are a few ideas of how to make your favorite colors work together.

Getting Started
Find a fabric or object you really like - maybe a piece of artwork, a favorite quilt, or an Oriental rug. Use those colors to create the palette for walls, floor, furniture, and accessories. The book Color Solutions by Better Homes and Gardens suggests that you don't try to match the painting color for color, but rather use the inspiration piece as a starting point to select hues that would work well together throughout your house.

In each room, allow a different color to dominate and give each space its own personality. The repetition of the inspiration colors throughout your home knits rooms together and creates a feeling of comfortable cohesion.

How do you decide which colors to put where? Start with the rooms where you and your family spend the most time. What mood do you want to create? Which colors will help you achieve that mood? Use that color for the walls and perhaps a tint of a secondary color for the ceiling and floor. For furnishings and window treatments, look for fabrics that combine your inspiration-piece colors in varying amounts and shades. Solid-color fabrics will have the greatest impact and versatility, while prints or plaids add interest and variety.

Picking colors that work
The color wheel is one of the basic tools designers learn for decorating a home. Thousands of color combinations are possible, but you can use the color wheel's basic information to create the color scheme best suited for your home and your personal taste.

The color wheel generally shows the pure hues of colors: red, blue, and green. In decorating, however, you're more likely to be using tints (lighter values) and tones (also known as shades) that are darker values of a color. Keep in mind that colors that lie opposite each other on the wheel are complementary; when paired, each makes the other appear more vivid. Hues that lie beside each other are analogous; they always look good together because they share a common hue.

Different colors affect our moods in different ways, so consider the effect it will have on the appearance and mood of the room. For example, warm and cozy colors, located on the right side of our color wheel, tend to convey a message of togetherness and strength, while cool and soothing colors, located on the left side of our color wheel, provide a sense of calm and feelings of trust.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about color psychology:

  • Varying shades of red are commonly found in dining rooms and libraries, but are becoming popular in kitchens and bedrooms as well. They generally express passion, zest for life, and a healthy appetite.
  • Pure orange is an extremely warm color. It's difficult to tone down and is often used as an accent color only.
  • Yellow has different effects depending upon its tone and value. A sharp yellow can create a feeling of deterrence, as with police tape at a crime scene. But a pale yellow, such as cowslip, can create a bright and pleasing environment.
  • Green is one of nature's most prominent colors and blends easily with any room. In many cases, the right green can be used as a neutral color to complement most color schemes.
  • Blue is generally a peaceful color. Light blue can make a room appear bright and refreshing, while a deep blue can create a sober mood. Blue is appropriate in any room of the house.
  • Violet is getting more and more recognition due to its connection to romance. Violet is also being used in bedrooms and living rooms to communicate an air of serenity.

Don't feel like you have to match colors perfectly. The bottom line is that YOU love the colors in your home and how they make your rooms feel. If you think the color isn't quite right, try a shade darker or lighter, and that may make all the difference in the world.

Remember, the steps involved in choosing colors shouldn't deter you from selecting a certain combination or layout. Always choose the colors you like best for decorating success!

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