How to put colors together when decorating

Written by fossette allane
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How to put colors together when decorating
Put colours together that create the atmosphere you desire. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Colour is a personal thing. One person's soft, soothing greyish beige is another person's mind-numbing shade of dirty dishwater. Combining colours seems to complicate this problem exponentially and may leave you feeling overwhelmed when it comes to decorating. But picking colours for your home decor does not have to be intimidating. Approach the project with a plan, get familiar with the colour wheel and trust your gut. Soon you'll be putting colours together like a pro, creating exactly the mood you envision for every room in your home.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Colour wheel
  • File folder

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  1. 1

    Study a colour wheel. Become familiar with complimentary colours, those that are directly opposite one another on the wheel. Notice how they show each other off without competing for attention. Decorate with complimentary colours like red and green or purple and yellow to add dynamic energy to a room. Study analogous colours, three colours adjacent to one another on the wheel, such as blue-violet, violet and red-violet. Notice the serene mood an analogous colour scheme creates. Use analogous colours to instil a feeling of calm in your room design.

  2. 2

    Collect colour stories. Find images that contain colour combinations you love. Store them in a file folder to bring along for inspiration when you shop for paint, furniture and accessories. Don't limit your images to rooms; lifting colour schemes from natural and artificial landscapes is a designer's staple. Steal a combination of sandy tan, light sky blue, cactus green and tropical-flower pink from a desert scene and use it in your living room. Combine red, orange, yellow and blue to emulate a circus tent for a child's bedroom. Whenever you come across an image that gives you a strong reaction, add it to the file.

  3. 3

    Pick four main colours for each room. Choose two main colours and two accent colours, using the colour wheel and your colour stories as your guide. Your palette might include two neutrals, such as off-white and camel, and two complimentary colours, such as bright green and magenta. Kelly green walls, a cheerful magenta couch, off-white curtains and a camel-coloured woven throw blanket make a bold, hip living room. Off-white walls, camel upholstery, green throw pillows and one magenta picture frame around a large black and white photograph create a subtle, sophisticated look.

  4. 4

    Start with an accessory. Take your Mexican tapestry shopping to help you match its vibrant shades of red, royal blue and white for decorating the guest bedroom. Bring along a postcard of an Impressionist print to select the best pale blues, greens and lavenders for the master bathroom. Add an occasional surprise element -- say, a contrasting silver blanket, or an out-of-nowhere yellow accent chair -- to keep your rooms feeling natural rather than overly coordinated.

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