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How to Choose the Right Color Palette for your Home

Nothing is as personal as color. Choosing a color palette is both the most important part and yet the most daunting part for many when it comes to decorating their homes. Read on and get some great tips as we help guide you to create the color palette that best suits your style, personality and lifestyle.

interior design colors

mikehutch40/ Twenty20

Choosing your colors

Start by working from a color wheel. There are primary, secondary and tertiary colors.

  • Primary colors are red, blue and yellow. They are pure colors and cannot be created.
  • Secondary colors are orange, green and purple. These colors are formed when equal parts of 2 primary colors are combined. For example equal parts yellow and blue make green. As basic as this is this is where we begin the color selection.
  • Tertiary colors are a mixture, in varying parts of secondary and primary colors to create different hues, as a result the primary and secondary colors become less vivid. White and black are often added to darken and soften these hues.
blue accent wall Shutterstock

Creating your color scheme

Use your color wheel to help you create your own color scheme that best fits your personality. There are 4 kinds of possible color schemes.

  1. Monochromatic. The monochromatic color scheme uses tone on tone of the same color with the addition of white or black to lighten or darken the color. For example, in this scheme blue can become a pale sky blue or a dark midnight blue and all three hues of the same shade are used to create this effect.
  2. Analogous. The analogous scheme uses colors that appear next to each other on the color wheel. For example, yellow will be used with green or orange, or blue will be used with green or purple. This creates a colorful and often soothing palette.
  3. Contrast. The contrast scheme is more dramatic. Here a triad of contrasting colors is used, such as yellow-orange, green-blue and red-purple. This introduces more color and energy into your home’s palette.
  4. Complementary. Lastly we have the complementary scheme where two opposing colors, such as blue and orange, are used together to create a dramatic, bold and high energy color scheme.

Creating your color scheme

We will caution against selecting your wall color first. Wall paints are inexpensive and can be created in any color and in any hue you desire. It’s best to start with harder to find items such as furniture and rugs or carpets. Once you’ve selected your furnishings you can then move on to wall color. You may decide that you’d prefer your color not to be on your walls, but in your accessories or furnishings instead. Many people prefer this. Others, conversely, prefer more neutral furnishings contrasted by bold and powerful walls.

Things to consider Shutterstock

When choosing your color palette you may want to start with contrasts, something dark paired with something light. If you wish to infuse a little more color and energy into your room you might consider adding something bright. Where is it that you want these colors?If you’re more comfortable with pale walls, look to your furnishings, accessories and rugs for added color. When picking your colors, especially the bolder ones, makes sure they are crisp and the lines are clean. If your style is more subtle, softer, neutral shades should be considered.

Color tones

Test out your colors with paint swatches and fabrics. Draw out plans for your rooms and sketch in the colors. If they work on paper, try painting small areas of your walls. You can buy any color paint in a sample size specifically for this reason. When painting sample areas look at other rooms and how they connect so that you can create a flow from room to room so that the colors complement each other. An adjoining room may want a nonaccent or a neutral color, or conversely, you can work with contrasting tones as well as long as there is always a semblance of flow.


Lighting is an important aspect of all decor and function within the home and should never be overlooked. Light reflects and deflects color, changing it constantly, throughout the day. A room’s truest colors are those found in the daylight hours and the hues will alter throughout the day and the seasons as the lighting changes. Different lightings can change the appearance of color as well.  Indigo, for example, can appear bluer in one room and have much more red in another.


You love the idea of infusing your space with color, but you’re not really quite ready to add it to your walls. There are plenty of ways to add splashes of color to your home. If you keep your walls neutral – pale beiges, sands, ivories, greys, and whites – you can bring color in with rugs, furniture, lamps, pillows, throws and artwork, flowers, and fresh fruit. You may also consider painting your ceiling or an accent wall.

Where to start with color 

blue walled living room

kane251/ Twenty20

Start at the beginning. The beginning could be a central room or a front hall or entryway. Is there a color, or a set of colors that you’re particularly fond of? Do you tend to prefer blues, yellows, greens? Start with a color that best suits you. Then take that color and look at it several shades and hues lighter and several shades and hues darker. So, for instance, on your color wheel, you’ve chosen green. You’ve gone to the paint store and you’ve chosen a dozen or so to paint swatches that have varying shades of green. You like two shades, one has more of a grey undertone and more has more of a blue undertone. Perhaps select one hue for the dining room and the other for the living room. To make them work together select a neutral that can be used in both rooms for ceiling or trim or both. Some suggest keeping hallways, landings, and connecting spaces neutral in tone.

Separate the upstairs from the downstairs

girl painting wall

Korneevamaha/ Twenty20

The upstairs and downstairs are two separate entities and should be treated as such.  It’s best to paint your landing or hallway a soft or neutral color as often the upstairs is comprised of mostly bedrooms which can often have very different colors and contrasts. Children’s rooms are often bright and bold, whereas guestrooms and home offices are not. If your master bedroom has a master bathroom attached to it, you need not paint both rooms the same color, but do consider different tones of the same color – perhaps paint one room slightly lighter than the other. As the two are connected there should be some semblance of flow. Choosing color should be enjoyable and should not be stressful in the least. Don’t rush into anything. Visit the paint store, talk to the professionals, bring home as many swatches as you desire, and hang them up all over your home if you wish. In the end, these are guidelines to help you but all rules and guidelines need not be followed to a T.  Listen to your gut, trust your instincts – they never lie!

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