The Basics of Choosing Room Colors

You’re ready for a room makeover, it’s time, you’ve set the budget, you have a general idea of how the room should look, but you’ve come to a dead stop when it’s time to choose a color scheme.  How in the world do you figure out what colors to use and how do those professionally designed rooms make those colors look so right for each other?

You need to understand the basics of choosing a color palette for your room to get the professional redecorated look.

How much is too much?

You’re wall color is going to fade in to the woodwork if you don’t have an accent color to bring it to the forefront.  Follow the interior design color rule – 60/30/10.

  • Your dominant color should make up more than one-half of the room – your walls will be the dominant color.
  • Your secondary color will make up 30% of the room – this means your upholstery and window treatments generally.  In the bedroom,  it’s more likely to be your bedding and draperies.
  • Your accent color will be the remaining 10% - that’s a more intense color and you use it in accessories – throw pillows, artwork, etc.  Your accent color’s job is to add some punch to the room, don’t overuse it or it lessens the impact.

Do they Match?

They don’t have to – you’re colors don’t have to match – they just can’t clash.  They’re a few ways to make sure you’re colors blend properly to make your room look like it was professionally decorated:

Complementary Colors
Complementary colors are located opposite each other on the color wheel; for example - red and green, yellow and violet. Each color brings out the richness in the other. When using complementary colors, one color should be subtle and the other color should be more dominant. For example, an intense, dark violet should be paired with a medium to light yellow.

Monochromatic Colors
Monochromatic color schemes are more soothing and tend to look more neutral than a complementary color scheme.  They’re colors with the same hue, but differ in value, tone and saturation.  For example a paint sample card has four different shades of the same color, those are monochromatic.

Analogous (side-by-side) combinations
The side by side combinations are colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. These palettes tend to be more eye-catching by  using two to three related colors next to each other on the color wheel to create visual appeal.

The wide selection of possible combinations makes this a versatile color palette to use. For example: A selection of purples and blues or oranges and reds can be used to create this scheme. The similarity of the related colors makes the palette visually exciting while being harmonious.

If all these complicated terms make color choices even more overwhelming, you can always cheat and choose your palette from the choices offered by the paint manufacturers – Behr, Sherwin Williams and Valspar all offer sample palettes put together by professional interior designers.  I say give it a try on your own first, you can do it.