What you need to know when it comes to decorating with color and why you shouldn’t be afraid to use it.
Summer is finally here! And what better way to celebrate the new season than by introducing hot hues into your home? We’re all aware that color has the power to transform a room. But how do you use it and where do you begin? Choosing a color palette can be overwhelming and at times, confusing. But, we’re here to let you know that it’s easier than you think and surprisingly fun! Below, we’re sharing 10 different ways to add color to your home–indoors and out–along with some basic color theory tips and examples.
1. Start Out Small
One of the many things we love about color is that you don’t have to use a lot to make an impact. Case in point: The red barstools in the all-white kitchen pictured above add just enough pop for depth and interest. Other ways to slowly introduce color into your home is through small decorative items like pillows and vases. One other thing to keep in mind if you’re introducing color into your space for the first time is that it can have a profound impact on your mood and emotion. So, while it’s important to pick one you like, it’s also important to make sure it’s a color you feel you can live with. For example, you may love red, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily want it splashed across your bedroom wall.
2. Analogous Colors
Color is very subjective and therefore interpreted differently by everyone, but when it comes to pairing them together in a space, there are some that generally work better than others. This is where getting to know the color wheel comes in handy. (See color wheel below!) Analogous colors for example are the colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel and are naturally harmonious together. Blues and greens, reds and oranges, purples and pinks (with a touch of orange) as Cantoni designer Pam Satterly showcases in the living room pictured above – all pair beautifully because they are a primary color and a secondary color with the same primary color as its base.
3. Complementary Colors
Alternatively, complementary colors are those that sit opposite each other on the color wheel. The most common color combinations include a primary color and a secondary color. So, red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple. Complementary colors create spaces with more contrast and tension than those with only analogous colors. Because complementary colors can be jarring, we recommend choosing one to be the main focus while choosing another to serve as an accent. Another option is selecting a vibrant shade of one and a more subdued shade of the other. In the modern kitchen pictured above, the bright orange backsplash dominates while the dark navy blue countertop adds contrast. Neutral white and gray help to balance out the space.
4. Split Complementary
If you really want to get fancy, there’s the split complementary color scheme which is a variation of the complementary color scheme. It’s made by pairing a single color with the colors on either side of its complementary color. This type of color scheme provides just as much contrast as the complementary color scheme but with less tension. In the home pictured above, the Cantoni Houston design team used a split-complementary color scheme of blue, red-orange and yellow-orange. It’s important to include a neutral, (like the white above) to balance out the bold combination of colors.
5. Warm Colors
On the color wheel, warm colors include reds, yellows, and oranges. Warm colors can be stimulating and therefore work well in social rooms of your home where interaction takes place. These rooms are usually the living room, dining room and kitchen. Of course, they don’t have to be confined to those areas of your home only. If you want to test it out without having to make a major commitment, we recommend choosing a small area of your home that isn’t used as often as say the living room, like an office or a guest room.
6. Cool Colors
If warm colors don’t speak to you, perhaps calming cool colors will. Cool colors include blues, greens, white and shades of gray. They’re not overpowering and soothing in nature, therefore work well in private areas of the home that support relaxation, such as the bedroom, home office or bathroom. But cool colors can also be used in other areas of the home as Cantoni designer Mercedes Williams showcases in the serene and sophisticated living room pictured above.
7. Mix Cool and Warm
Like complementary color combinations, mixing cool and warm colors can be tricky, but if done right can also add beautiful contrast and interest to a room. An easy trick to try when mixing cool and warm colors is to consider the colors present in the materials in the room. For example in the family room pictured above, the majority of warm tones can be found in the wood accents and brick wall. The warm neutral brown tones not only help to balance out the space but also allow for our warm and vibrant Classic Sphere chair in red to co-exist with the cool blue tones found in the rug’s patterns.
8. Monochromatic Color Scheme
Rather than choosing 2 or 3 different colors to incorporate into your space, why not use various shades of the same color? This is a great option if there is one particular color you absolutely love. In the beautiful bedroom pictured above, our Houston design team layered various shades and tones of the color blue, which you may remember is also a cool color and therefore an ideal hue for the bedroom as it naturally inspires serenity and relaxation.
9. Pull Colors from a Pattern
Another easy way to choose a color scheme for your space is by pulling the colors from one of the largest patterns in your room, be it drapery, a rug or a large piece of artwork. The advantage of creating a color scheme based off the colors in a piece you love is that you don’t have to worry about other pieces not matching. In the living/dining room pictured above, Cantoni designer Bernadette Capellaro used an off-white, yellow and gray color palette based upon the colors featured in our patterned Vintage area rug.
10. The 60-30-10 Rule
Last but certainly not least, the 60-30-10 rule is a timeless design tool that helps to formulate your color palette and serves as a guideline for determining how much of one color and how little of another should be used. The concept is meant to bring balance and works in tandem with the color wheel, so it can also be applied to all of the examples above. Here’s how it works:
60% is your dominant color: This will be the main color for your room and generally includes the walls and floors, though it can sometimes also include larger pieces of furniture. Using the living room pictured above as an example, the dominant color is beige, though there’s also some caramel, a darker shade of beige included, but we’ll let it slide. The idea is that the 60% color (in this case, it’s a neutral) anchors the space as well as serves as a backdrop for what colors come next.
30% is your secondary color: You will be using half as much of this color as your main color. This is the color that is typically used for draperies, accent chairs or even creating an accent wall, like in our living room example above. In addition to the lime green accent wall, this color is also carried through to the barstools, giving the overall space interest and contrast.
10% is you accent color: This is where the fun really begins. Your accent color is most often used for throw pillows, artwork, decorative accessories and even small pieces of furniture such as an ottoman or bench. In our living room example, blue serves as the accent color and is incorporated through the throw pillows and ottoman. As you may also remember, blue is an analogous color to green, another reason why this particular room feels so harmonious and balanced.
Clearly when it comes to decorating with color, the possibilities are almost endless. Hopefully you are now feeling more inspired and less inhibited to show your true colors. But if you need some extra guidance, let us help! Our knowledgeable Design Consultants are seasoned professionals, passionate about modern design and eager to provide you with thoughtful solutions. Stop by your nearest store or click here to connect with a designer for a free one-on-one consultation!