Choosing a color scheme


We are naturally attracted to certain colors, and selecting a suitable color scheme can make a significant difference in creating a beautiful interior.

Choosing a color scheme, also known as a color palette, is the art of selecting colors that complement one another and create a certain ambiance.

A well-chosen color scheme can effectively communicate emotions and set your design apart from others.

So, how do you select the ideal color scheme for your project?

This section explores the different categories of color schemes and offers tips and techniques to pick the perfect colors for your project.

People have different color preferences, and your client may have already chosen their color scheme based on existing furnishings.

However, if the color scheme needs to be updated, you can always suggest changes to influence the finished look.

When decorating, color preferences can be incredibly subjective, what one person loves may not appeal to someone else.

As an interior decorator, it’s your role to consider your client’s color preferences when selecting a color scheme for their home. For example, the wall colors and furnishings in the room may already be chosen, and these elements can heavily influence the color scheme. 

Changing the color scheme can be achieved using several methods, such as painting the walls, altering the rugs, or introducing furniture and furnishings.

Sometimes, you may even recommend reupholstering or replacing furniture to match the new color scheme.

You can also help create a new color scheme that your client will love and appreciate by being attentive to their color preferences and the existing elements in the room.

Understanding Color Schemes

Color is an essential element of any interior decorating project.

With so many options available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

However, fear not! We’re here to guide you through the array of color schemes.

  • The 60-30-10 Rule: The 60-30-10 rule is a prominent guideline. This requires selecting a dominant color for 60% of the room, a secondary color for 30% of the room, and an accent color for 10%. This rule ensures the colors in the room are balanced and complement each other.
  • Different Shades, Tints, and Tones: In addition to the 60-30-10 rule, you can experiment with different shades, tints, and tones of colors to create a dynamic color scheme. By mixing and matching colors, you can create a unique and personalized look that reflects the personality and style of your client.
  • Complementary Colours: Another option is to use complementary colors, which are colors opposite each other on the color wheel, such as purple and yellow. Contrasting colors, such as red and pink, can create a bold and eye-catching look. Monochromatic colors, such as shades of green, can create a subtle and sophisticated look. Related colors, which are colors next to each other on the color wheel, such as orange and red, can create a harmonious and cohesive look.

While choosing a color scheme, remember that you can and should blend different colors. Yet, to pull the theme together, choose one prominent color to use throughout the space. Then, add accent colors that can be used in multiple areas throughout the room.

There are plenty of color schemes, whether you want a dramatic and vibrant design or a more subtle and refined look.

Just remember to be creative and try new things.

Choosing a Color Scheme

When selecting colors for a decorating project, there are a few things to consider that can help you and your client make the best choices.

Here are some tips to bear in mind:

When decorating a room, consider the mood and atmosphere you want to create in that space.

The colors you choose for the walls, furniture, and accessories can significantly impact how the room feels.

For instance:

  • Blues and greens are known for creating a calming and relaxing environment, making them ideal for bedrooms and bathrooms. These colors are associated with tranquillity, peace, and a sense of calm, which can help to promote relaxation and restful sleep.
  • Bold and bright colors such as red and yellow can energize and stimulate, making them great choices for playrooms or areas where creativity and productivity are required. These colors are also associated with passion and excitement and can help to increase enthusiasm and inspiration.
  • The specific shade of a color can also affect the room’s mood. For example, navy blue can create a more formal atmosphere, while a light and airy sky blue can feel more whimsical.
  • When selecting colors for a space, consider the purpose of the room. For instance, if you’re designing a home office, choose colors that help to boost productivity, such as shades of blue or green. Alternatively, if you’re decorating a space for relaxation, choose softer, more muted colors like pastels or earth tones.

When decorating a room, the size of the room can play a significant role.

Choosing colors that work well with the room’s size can visually enhance the space.

  • It can be challenging to create a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere in large rooms, which can often feel empty and cold. However, warm colors like red, orange, and yellow earthy tones can help pull the walls closer together and make the space more appealing. 
  • If the room is small, the goal is often to create the illusion of space and make the room appear larger than it is. Cool colors like blues, greens, and purples can help generate a sense of space by making the walls appear farther away. In addition, these colors have the effect of making a room feel light and open.

Natural light is an essential factor when choosing a color scheme for a room.

It can significantly affect the overall mood and atmosphere of the space.

In addition, the amount and direction of the natural light that enters a room can impact how colors appear, so it is necessary to choose the right colors that work well with the available light.

  • Warm colors can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere in a room with little exposure to natural light. These colors have a natural ability to make a space feel warmer and more welcoming. Therefore, making them ideal choices for rooms that lack natural light, such as basements or rooms with small windows.
  • A room that receives a lot of sunlight, particularly from a south-facing window, can benefit from cool colors such as blues, greens, and purples. These colors help balance the brightness and create a sense of calmness and relaxation in the space. Additionally, lighter colors such as whites, creams, and pastels can reflect the natural light and make the room feel brighter and more spacious.

Always consider the client’s personal preferences and style.

Ultimately, the color scheme should reflect their tastes and personality, so it’s important to have their input. Use it as a guide for selecting complementary colors.

Creating a cohesive color palette throughout the home can help bring a sense of harmony and continuity to the space, making it feel more polished and put together.

Decorators Tip: Test the colors in the room to ensure they work well in the space. Viewing colors in daylight can help you see how they’ll look throughout the day and ensure they still look great in different lighting conditions. 

After deciding on the primary color for the room, you can start exploring different color combinations that are complementary or contrasting to that primary color.

By presenting various options to your clients, they can choose the color scheme that resonates with them.

Again, the key is understanding the language of color, which involves selecting specific hues and harmonious values and intensities. 

It’s also important to consider the proportions of colors in a combination.

Color theory often focuses on pure colors, such as red, blue, and yellow. Remember that in the real world, colors are often softened and diluted, creating different tones and shades.

When selecting colors for a room, consider the intensity or saturation of each color.

Intensity refers to the level of brightness or vividness of a color, while saturation refers to the amount of pigment in a color.

Choosing colors with similar intensity and saturation levels can help create a cohesive and harmonious look.

  • Clear and bright colors work well together; they are visually stimulating and create a vibrant and energetic atmosphere. For example, combining bright yellow, orange, and pink in a child’s bedroom can create a playful and fun vibe that encourages creativity and imagination.
  • On the other hand, muted and subdued tones can create a calming and peaceful atmosphere in a room. This is because these colors have a lower intensity and saturation level, making the space feel more relaxing and soothing. For example, pairing muted shades of blue and green in a living room or study can create a serene and peaceful ambiance that encourages relaxation and focus.

Remember, while clear and bright colors can be exciting and fun, they can also be overwhelming if used excessively.

Similarly, while muted tones can be calming and soothing, they can feel dull and lifeless if not combined with brighter colors.

Therefore, strike a balance and use colors in moderation to achieve a room’s desired mood and atmosphere.

Expanding on the concept of unequal quantities, note that each color used in a room will have its own level of intensity and impact.

You can create a strong and cohesive look by selecting one dominant color, which will be the room’s focus.

The supporting colors should then complement and enhance the dominant color without competing.

For example, a room with a dominant blue color scheme could have pops of yellow or green as supporting colors. Blue could be used on the walls, while yellow or green could be incorporated in accents like pillows, rugs, or artwork. Using these colors in smaller quantities can provide a bright and lively contrast to the calming blue backdrop without overwhelming the space.

The placement of colors within a room is also crucial in creating a specific mood or atmosphere.

The color of furniture, textiles, and accessories should all be considered when selecting a color scheme.

For instance, a room with white walls and light blue furniture will create a different feel than a room with light blue walls and white furniture. In the first scenario, the blue furniture will stand out and draw attention, while the walls will be the focus in the latter.

Other Factors Worth Noting

When choosing a color scheme for an interior decorating project, there are other factors to consider beyond personal preferences and aesthetics.

For instance, understanding color psychology can help you create a mood or atmosphere that aligns with the purpose of the space.

Color psychology is the study of how colors can affect human behavior, emotions, and mood.

When choosing a color scheme for an interior decorating project, consider the psychological effects of each color.

For example, yellow is a cheerful and uplifting color that can help to create a sense of energy and optimism. However, too much yellow can be overwhelming and create feelings of anxiety or nervousness.

As you can see, it’s important to balance the use of yellow with other more calming colors.

Another consideration to remember is the overall style of the space.

Different color schemes can complement or clash with different design styles.

For example, a bold and bright color scheme may not work well with a minimalist design, while a muted color scheme can enhance the elegance of a classic design.

Another example is a rustic style. A rustic interior often features natural materials like wood and stone. The color scheme is therefore inspired by nature, such as earth tones, muted greens, and warm oranges.

You also need to be aware of the color trends in the market.

Keeping up with current color trends is an essential aspect of interior decorating.

It helps you create a design that feels relevant and up-to-date. While it’s not necessary to follow every trend, incorporating a few trendy colors can help you add a fresh and modern touch to your space. 

Remember that trends are fleeting.

So, while it’s worth noting trends, it’s even more important to stay true to your unique style and design vision. Finally, once you have determined the color scheme, you can then select fabrics, textures, and patterns to complement the interior decorating plan.

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