How to Pick Colors for Interior Decorating

Decorating your home can be an exasperating hassle if you do not arm yourself with some knowledge beforehand. Fortunately, with the right tips and tricks in mind, you can make interior decorating into a satisfying and expressive endeavor. A major aspect of decorating your home is choosing a color palette. The tips below will help you to pick colors for interior decorating that will make your home a cohesive, personal expression of your tastes.


  1. Image titled Pick Colors for Interior Decorating Step 1
    Draw a color palette from a large patterned piece. A simple way to pick colors is to draw them from a large, patterned piece that you already own - a piece of artwork, an area rug, or an upholstered chair, for example. Match paint, furniture, and accessories to colors that appear in this pattern. This will give your room a subtly cohesive appearance and will help feature the patterned piece.
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    Employ the 60-30-10 rule. This interior design guideline dictates that you should devote 60 percent of a room's color to a dominant hue, 30 percent to a secondary hue, and 10 percent to an accent color. This guideline helps maintain visual balance and keeps you from going overboard with bright accent colors or dull neutrals.
    • The dominant hue should be a relatively neutral or low-saturation color. The secondary color can be a bit brighter, and the accent color should provide bold pops of color that invigorate the room.
    • For example, the dominant hue could be used as wall paint, the secondary hue as the upholstery on your furniture, and the accent color for accessories like pillows and vases.
    • Note that this rule applies to all areas of design. Consider a man's suit - about 60 percent is the neutral-colored coat and slacks; 30 percent is the shirt; and the final 10 percent is the tie, where a bold, lively color is acceptable.
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    Pay attention to the vertical gradient in your color scheme. There is a reason most ceilings are painted white or beige even when the walls are dark - rooms tend to look much better if the color tones are graded from dark to light as you move up vertically. Choose darker tones for low pieces like rugs and coffee tables; use medium tones for your walls; and leave your ceiling a light color.
  4. Image titled Pick Colors for Interior Decorating Step 4
    Take decorating cues from your wardrobe. Even if you are completely flummoxed by choosing colors for your home, take heart - you're already well-versed in this process through choosing your clothes. You likely buy clothes in colors that appeal to you and match your complexion well, so follow the same rule when decorating. If you think pink clothes tend to wash out your skin tone and make you look sickly, for instance, avoid buying furniture or decorative items in pink colors.
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    Consult a color wheel for matching colors. A color wheel, which can be found easily through an Internet search, is a tool that arranges colors according to the wavelength of light needed to produce them. This tool is used frequently by designers to determine how to introduce unity or contrast into a decorating scheme.
    • Adjacent colors on the color wheel are called analogous colors, and can be paired with each other for a pleasing, unified color scheme. For example, using greens, teals, and blues in a room will produce a calm, cohesive appearance.
    • Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are called complementary colors, and can be paired with each other to create striking but stable contrasts. A bright purple vase against a pale green wall can provide a visual boost that enlivens both colors, for instance.
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    Employ blacks and whites throughout your home. Small accessories in stark black or white play a major role in livening up your color scheme. These colors define the limits of the spectrum, and therefore they make other colors appear richer by situating them within the full spectrum of color.


  • When in doubt, purchase major pieces like sofas in neutral colors. A neutral sofa can be tied into any color scheme through coordinating throw pillows, which are cheaper to purchase and update than the sofa itself.
  • Take inspiration from nature. Anytime you notice a pleasing arrangement of greenery or flowers, note the colors present and their proportions. You can adapt these color schemes to your interior decorating.

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Categories: Home Decorating | Decorative Home Paintwork