Tips For Using Color In Interior Design: Our Favorite Home Style Tips
Knowing how to use color in interior design can turn a house into a home. It gives you more control of your surroundings and how you feel within them. Understanding the color wheel and interior design color schemes are just a step of the process that you need to know, and we’re here to help!
A Few Things To Consider Before Getting Started
Interior design is like fine art: let your space be your canvas. Whether you’re working with pieces and colors already present in your home, or starting completely fresh, the first thing to consider is your vision. What style is the rest of your home? Do you want this room to cohesively blend with other rooms or will this room be uniquely its own? Creating a mood board of designs and images that inspire you is a great first step.
Next is composition. Imagine the room completely empty. What lines and shapes define your room? Are they hard straight edges? Rounded archways? High ceilings? An A-frame? Are there stairs? Do you plan on creating small moments around a room or one united picture?
The third thing to consider (which is arguably just as important) is color. Color sets the vibe of your space.
There’s a reason why spas, hotels, restaurants, and retailers put so much stock into choosing the colors of a room. Consider the stark modernism of an apple store: minimal and futuristic silver tones paired with white and wood accents. Compare that to the bright red floors and walls of Buckingham Palace’s throne room, or the gentle neutrals of a rehabilitation center walls, it quickly becomes apparent that designers utilize color with extreme intention and thought. Color is a vehicle which imbues specific aesthetic and emotion throughout an interior.
This article is going to provide you with a few tips to help you use color to create the home decor style of your dreams!
Know Your Colors
In order to dive into interior design color combinations, we must first dip our toes into the basics of color theory.
Color theory explores how the human eye experiences color. The color wheel is a visual tool to describe color theory—you probably recognize it from your early childhood days when you learned about color. It’s the circular rainbow display that looks like a pie, each color is a different slice. The color wheel demonstrates how colors relate to one another.
The colors of the wheel (in order) are red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, blue-purple, purple, and red-purple.
Primary, Secondary, And Tertiary Colors
Red, yellow, and blue are referred to as primary colors. They’re primary because you can’t mix other colors to make them. Orange, green, and purple are secondary colors. When you combine two primary colors, they make secondary colors. Red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green, and red and blue make purple. When we combine a primary and secondary color, we get tertiary colors. These include red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, and red-purple.
Complementary colors sit opposite of eachother on the color wheel. Complementary colors have the strongest contrast—blue and orange, for example—while analogous colors, the ones that sit next to each other on the wheel, have little contrast.
Neutral colors play a huge role in interior design and decoration. Neutral colors effectively mean lacking color. They technically include whites, blacks, greys, taupes and tans, but neutral colors can exist as undertones of any color. A cool grey with blue undertones, for example, or a warm tan with red undertones, are both considered neutrals.
Tone, Tint, and Shade
Tone, tint, and shade explain color variation related to lightness, darkness, and vibrancy. Tone describes the amount of grey in a color, tint describes the amount of white in a color, and shade describes the amount of black in a color.
There is a long list of rules that determine harmony in the interior design color wheel (split-complementary, tetrads, and more), so we won’t dig into all of it, but the basic idea is that color theory can be a tool used to create harmony in beautiful interiors. Familiarizing yourself with colors and how they work is vital to interior design.
Establish the Mood
Different colors connote different moods. You can use your knowledge of color to influence the vibe of your space, whether it’s dark and sultry, bright and airy, something in between, or something entirely different. Again, this is where a mood board comes in handy!
If you’re looking for a space that feels light and airy, opting for neutrals and colors with a light tint will help establish that feel. A light color scheme expands spaces and makes them feel bigger than they are. Even in a darker room, a floor-to-ceiling cream-colored curtain will make a room look taller.
Reds, oranges, browns, and yellows are often used to drive home a cozy and warm aesthetic. On the other hand, blues, greens, and other cool colors create a mellow and relaxing vibe. Using the psychology of nature is helpful here. It makes sense that warm colors like reds and oranges create warmth in a room, just as a roaring red-orange fire and the bright yellow of a sunny day feel warm, while on the other hand, the blue of an alpine lake, or refreshing greens of a grassy expanse feel cool. You can keep things calm with neutral colors or go big and bold with complementary colors. These are just a few examples, but the space is yours—it’s up to you to decide the vibe that makes you feel good in your home!
When it comes to colors, it’s important to think about relationships between them.
We mentioned earlier in the article that colors on the opposite sides of the spectrum are complementary. These colors have a lot of energy next to each other; they sort of vibrate. So if you’re going bold with your color scheme, pairing these colors is going to make your space vibrate too.
Analogous colors, the ones that sit near one another on the color wheel, create more harmony (it’s easier for the eyes to see these colors side-by-side). Opting for a monochromatic palette by incorporating different tints and shades of a single color creates a very smooth and soothing palette. Whether you want your colors to excite or soothe, it’s important to have these relationships in mind.
Another piece of the color puzzle is considering how colors relate to each other in different rooms. For example, if most of your home utilizes a neutral palette, having a bathroom in a super bright color has a jarring effect, which may bring an element of fun and excitement to the home. Even wallpapering the inside of a coat closet can bring a fun pop of something special to a space!
Consider the Rules
Classic design rules suggest choosing a dominant neutral color and spicing it up with accent colors of your dominant neutral’s secondary colors—the basic formula for designing a space. For example, adding black and grey pillows to a living room with a dominant cream color base establishes harmony. Build on top of this by incorporating a sculpture or painting that follows the same color scheme, and then add pops of orange in various shades follows the same template.
But, Follow Your Heart
Rules are made to be broken, though, so take our advice with a grain of salt and follow your gut.
If you love bright colors, paint your walls orange, buy a green couch, and accent it with pink and silver pillows. If you wish Halloween lasted all year in your small space, paint your walls deep grey, get a black velvet couch, and accent with emerald pillows.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to consider with interior design color schemes is you. So, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and have fun! And if you’re looking for some inspiration or a sprinkle of decor to spice up your space, don’t forget to shop our amazing collections.