The Rules of Color in Home Decor

Unless you have an eye for color and design, decorating your home could be a task you would happily exchange for a dental appointment. If questions like ‘what style are you?’ and ‘is your home vintage or contemporary?’ cause a deer-in-the-headlights sort of look on your face, then perhaps you need a professional decorator. If, however you want to learn a little bit about home decor and take on the project yourself, then pour yourself a cup of coffee and read on.

The first rule of color as it applies to home decor is the 60-30-10 rule. Sixty refers to the percentage of the primary color you will be using in the space. As a rule, your wall color will be the 60 of the above formula. Thirty is the percentage of the second color and will most often include the flooring or area rug, large pieces of furniture or bedding. Ten is the percentage of the accent color, including window treatments, throw pillows, and wall decals. Realistically, most people decorate according to either their existing furniture or the permanent focal point in the space. If you are designing a look for a room with a large fireplace and mantle, don’t try to create another focal point. Instead look for ways to incorporate the fireplace into your plan – especially the color. A lot of newly built homes have working fireplaces, but the mantle is painted the same color as the wall. This can be a great benefit of you are not planning on changing the colors of the walls.

Choosing a color palette for your space can go in several different directions depending on the permanent fixtures and furniture you must incorporate. The most common color scheme is Complimentary, which incorporates colors from opposite sides of the color wheel in order to draw attention to the space. For example navy blue, light yellow and burgundy look fabulous together but are in opposite places on the color wheel. Each color compliments the other by being the (almost) opposite of it. Imagine a room with navy blue walls, a pale yellow carpet and window treatments, and burgundy accents. The effect would be striking, yet complimentary.

Monochromatic color schemes focus around a single color, but incorporate a few different shades of the color. For example, the walls of a young boy’s room could be sky blue, the carpet a deeper blue and the bedding and window treatments could be a navy blue. The monochromatic color scheme helps create harmony in the space. Adding subtle accents such as white wall decals in the shape of clouds and glow-in-the-dark stars would be a great way to personalize the room.

Many homeowners wishing to reflect their contemporary taste choose to have a neutral color palette in their home. Colors that are considered neutral are black, white, gray and sometimes brown. This type of color scheme works very well in a home where there are other very dramatic color schemes. For example a bathroom decorated in all white, with perhaps a pop of light gray or cream will have a clean and crisp look.

Analogous color schemes are those in which colors that are used all contain the same hue. For example, if green is common hue then the color palette will include blue, green and yellow. If done well, the analogous color scheme can create depth in a space, tying every aspect of the room together. It is tricky though, as each item’s color must compliment each other. If the colors don’t work, the space will look like disorganized and odd.

We often hear people talking about warm and cool colors, but those terms apply best to cosmetics, not home decor. Colors do make us feel different emotions, perhaps this is where the references to cool and warm came from. When you are looking at ideas for decorating, consider your own personal style of dress, the pieces of furniture or art you plan to use and the purpose of the space. Take your time in making decorating decisions and don’t be afraid to add some flair.

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