How to Choose a Color Scheme for Your Home

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Author: Laurel Clarke
Date Published: February 14, 2014

How Do I Create a Color Scheme for My House?

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By and far, one of the most asked questions regarding interior design is how to create a color scheme for a house?


With the endless choice of shades available today even choosing the right white can seem like a daunting task.

According to designer and author Mark McCauley (Color Therapy at Home: Real Life Solutions for Adding Color to Your Life), there are 8 useful tips to help you discover your inner color voice. Below, I will give you those tips and explain how you can implement them in your home.


8 Tips to Discover Your Inner Color Voice

#1 Choose a color scheme from the largest pattern in the space.

First, start with a favorite piece of art (such as a treasured oriental rug, or an existing piece of upholstered furniture that will not change) as your jumping off point. From there, pull out 3 colors that you are drawn to. If you are working with a very neutral palette on the walls, then look to the piece you chose for the background shades of white, beige, or gray to ensure the undertones are similar.


#2 Start with the formal areas of the house first.

Choose your 3 starter colors for the living room, dining room and entryway first. When you move to other areas of the house, you will use the 3 colors in varying degrees. For example, you might have chosen the red from your oriental carpet to use as one of your colors in the living room (on the floor and cushions) and then darkened that red to an oxblood to use on the walls in the den. Your kitchen may only have small accents of red with dishes or napkins .You will be using a thread of the original color scheme through-out the house without actually using the same shades and values of those colors. This is how you will achieve flow from room to room. You are going to connect the dots visually from room to room.


#3 Decorate your space from dark to light, vertically.

“Any interior space replicates the outside world” Mark McCauley says. “The exterior environment is generally darker below our feet (the earth itself), medium valued as you look straight ahead (trees and buildings) and lighter values skyward” It’s hard to argue with Mother Nature!


#4 Study the colors of your clothes (or your spouse’s clothes!)

Generally, don’t paint your room a color you (or your spouse won’t look good in). Hey, I love yellow, but I can’t wear it so I certainly am not going to paint my walls yellow even if it is in that piece of art that I am using for my jumping off point. I might use a shade of it for flowers or pillows in my color scheme, but not in big doses.


#5 Use the color wheel.

You can pick up one at an art supply store or online for about $5.00. By familiarizing yourself with the wheel you will see the relationship colors have with each other and that may inspire you to try something new. Were you always told blue and green should not be seen together? Well, take a look at the color wheel and you will see Blue and Green are side by side (called analogous) which in this case also means there is a little blue in green so they naturally work together. Same goes for pink and orange.


Have a close look and all of the ‘rules’ you thought were hard and fast are actually pretty loose. Whatever scheme you choose, add a dollop of black to accent and clarify your colors.( I don’t mean in the paint, I mean with accessories, picture frames, urns etc.)


#6 Use the rule of 60-30-10.

“When decorating a space, divide the colors in the space into components of 60% of a dominant color, 30% of a secondary color and 10% of an accent color” McCauley says. Usually this means the walls are the dominant color, the upholstery and draperies and possibly the flooring are secondary, and the final 10% are accents such as throw pillows and flower arrangements. “The colors are properly balanced and there is a shot of color for interest”.


#7 Go with the architecture

I always hear people saying they are going to paint the room light so it looks larger. This only works if the room has a lot of natural light! Then the space will open up. If there is little natural light and /or the room is small, then cozy it up with a rich, warm shade that will wrap you up and nurture you. If you insist on a light color for the walls make sure you have lots of high contrast pattern in the room. Use an area rug; throw cushions, artwork etc to add contrast against light walls. Painting a dark room a light color will only make it look dull and shadowy without contrast.


#8 Follow your personal style

Don’t let the newest trendy color sway what you love! Color trends will always come and go and if the newest grayed down neutral shades make you uncomfortable then don’t use them! There are many other ways to freshen the look of your home without completely changing a color scheme you have always loved. Using the same colors in new ways will transform your home and give it an up to date fresh look. A new area rug ( Dalton West Sells Them in Peachtree City), new accessories and wall art can do wonders to update a room while still staying with your favorite hues.


The final point I want to add about any color scheme is to use the best possible lighting in all of your rooms. Convert your recessed lights to high lumen LEDs, remove the CFLs from your lamps (you can buy LED bulbs now that work in most fixtures). CFL’s are the bane of a decorator’s existence! I like to call them ‘hag lights’ because nobody looks good when they are on. I only use them for utilitarian spaces such as the laundry room, garage and some overhead lighting that rarely gets used. LED’s are expensive up front, but the overall energy savings is well worth the initial outlay. If you need a local electrician who is an expert with providing, consulting, and installing LED lighting, call John Donaldson from PowerWorks Electric.


I would love to hear your feedback about this article and any other topics you would like to see in this Homes & Garden section of PTC People.com


Leave a Comment Regarding "How to Choose a Color Scheme for Your Home"

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One Response to How to Choose a Color Scheme for Your Home

  1. Annetta on December 7, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Having read this I believed it was extremely enlightening.
    I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this content together.
    I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading
    and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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