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Color palette

How to Choose a Color Palette: A Complete Guide to Decorating with Color

Color is one of the foundational principles of interior design. In fact, it’s one of the five interior design basics! That’s because color really helps set the tone for a space and influences its design style—whether you’re going for a neutral or bold colored room, something subtle or more vibrant.

The use of color is one of the easiest ways to change how a space looks and feels. And we’re not just talking paint colors—though that’s a major way to help set a color palette in a room. But textiles, art, decor, and upholstery are all pieces you can use to help establish and support the color palette in a room.

But how do you choose a color palette and how do you know what colors go well together? To help you navigate the world of color, we’ve put together this post full of tips and guidelines for choosing a color palette for your room!

How to Choose Colors for Your Room

We’re all drawn to certain colors, and different colors may create different feelings within you. So, when thinking through how to decorate a room and what colors to include, there are a couple questions you can ask yourself:

  • How will I be using my space?
  • What colors am I drawn to most?
  • Are there any colors that evoke a sense of calmness in me?
  • What colors make me happy?
  • Are there colors that help me concentrate?
  • Can I align a color palette with my mental and emotional needs for that space?

The mental and emotional associations you have with certain colors can be really impactful when you put the right colors in the right spaces. When you’re designing a room like an office, you might lean toward choosing colors that promote focus. In a bedroom, you probably want to create feelings of calm. In a living room, where you spend more time, you might want colors that make you feel happy and make you want to spend a lot of time in a space. So, think through your mental and emotional needs and allow the needs for each room to guide your color choices.

And the colors you gravitate toward for each need won’t be the same for everyone else! Blue doesn’t make everyone feel calm and red doesn’t make everyone angry. The way you respond to color is personal, and that means you can make personal choices for the colors you choose to use in your home. (Check out episode 5 of our podcast, The Render, for more on color theory and environmental psychology.)

Color Intensity: Soft Colors vs. Saturated Colors

When you’re thinking about colors, you also want to think about the level of intensity of the colors. Think about if you prefer softer colors, like pastels, or highly saturated colors, like jewel tones. Or maybe you prefer something in the middle, that’s more in the primary color or earth toned realm.

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When you play with the level of color intensity that you’re adding into the space, it changes the emotional response or feeling you have within that space. Pastels are softer colors that are often seen as more youthful. This is a more subtle take on color and can be seen as more calming, like in the living room above. Meanwhile, more saturated colors (like the dining room above), like jewel tones, are bold, dramatic, and make more of a statement within your space. But, with any level of color intensity—from soft to highly saturated—you can opt for pops of color or really bold washes of color within the space.

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3 Different Ways to Think About Color

When choosing colors for your space, there are three core ways that you can think about color. This involves the amount and intensity of color in a space, and falls on a spectrum from neutral to a bold use of color.

Color palette

Neutrals

Some people prefer a more neutral color palette. Neutral colors are hues that appear to be without color—like white, taupe, beige, black, and grey. They do actually have color in them, but they’re more subdued. They’re colors that can be layered in with more bold and saturated colors. But they can also live on their own really well. You can create a really beautiful space using only neutral colors. And this doesn’t result in a dull or boring space! (See our post about decorating with white as proof!) In fact, a neutral color palette, with neutral paint colors, can be really calming and serene. If you love neutrals but want a space with a little more “umph,” layer in some contrasting or darker neutrals.

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Pops of Color

If you’re someone who’s drawn to a little color but don’t want to go all out, you’re the perfect candidate for using pops of color! Pops of color tend to leverage color in art and decorative accents like rugs and pillows. You might have a neutral base in your main furniture and walls, but you can incorporate colors in smaller pieces that are easy to switch out.

This is perfect for people who like to dabble in trends or are fickle about color schemes, since you can easily change your pops of color season to season or as new trends emerge. But you can also take a bolder approach to pops of color by incorporating color in a larger piece of furniture, like a sofa or bed, or by painting an accent wall. However, this is more of a commitment since it involves pieces you can’t easily switch out.

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Color palette

Bold Colors

The ultimate way to use color is by taking a really bold approach. Bold colored rooms use highly saturated hues, and there is often a mix of multiple bright shades. The result? A space with a lot of drama. And even spaces with a bold use of color can be turned up or down. You can still opt for a neutral colored sofa and incorporate bold colors around it, on your walls and through your rugs, pillows, artwork and decor. Or, you can go all out with color, where just about every surface and piece of furniture and decor has a bold use of color.

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Creating a Color Palette

Once you land on where you want to be on the spectrum of neutral to bold, you’ll want to create an overall color palette for your space. Because you never use just one tone of one color in a space! But that begs the question: How do you actually create a color palette? Here are a few of our favorite ways to create a color palette.

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Monochromatic

Monochromatic color palettes focus on different shades of the same hue. It’s almost like looking at a paint swatch, from dark to light. When using a monochromatic color scheme, there’s only one dominant color, but since there are different shades there’s a sense of depth and nuance to the space. And there are certainly different levels of intensity you can go with a monochromatic palette, depending on the base color you choose.

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Complementary Colors

If you prefer to use multiple colors in a space, you can go for a complementary color palette. Complementary colors sit opposite to each other on the color wheel, so they create a strong contrast within your room’s color scheme. The most basic complementary color palettes are orange and blue, red and green, and purple and yellow. But as you dig deeper into the different shades of each color, you can create a lot of nuance within these complementary hues

Complementary colors are contrasting, so they create a little bit of drama in a space, but in a way that’s more subtle than the drama of a monochromatic space.

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Color palette

Color Families: Jewel Tones, Earth Tones, and Pastels

Another route to go is choosing a family of colors—like a jewel tone color palette or one comprised of earth tones or pastels. Going with a color family is a foolproof way to create a color palette. Because of the uniform saturation and tonality of these different families of color, you can feel confident that they’ll bring a cohesive look to your space.

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Warm Tones vs. Cool Tones

You can also group colors based on if they have warm or cool undertones, and create a color palette with colors in just one camp. When you look at a color wheel, warm colors are the reds, oranges, and yellows. Cool colors are the blues, greens, and purples. So, whereas a complementary color palette takes two colors from opposite sides of the color wheel, a color palette based on warm or cool tones uses colors that are next to each other on the color wheel—AKA secondary colors.

See how color can completely transform a space in our Organic Modernism Home Tour.

Color Palettes in Adjoining Rooms

One other thing to consider is what it looks like to choose color palettes across multiple spaces or adjoining rooms. When you have an open-concept space or a room that’s in view of other spaces in your home, you do want to create a sense of continuity; the two spaces should feel like they go together.

You could certainly pull the same color palette through the adjoining spaces for a simple solve. But another easy way to do this is to have one similar color element going through both spaces without it being identical. WIth a complementary color scheme, this would look like choosing one of those two colors and pulling it through both spaces, but choosing a slightly different complementary color in the other space. In a room with lots of bold colors, you can pick up a couple of the same colors in the adjoining space but then introduce new colors as well. Of course, this is easiest with a neutral color scheme where you have only subtle pops of color or contrast. You can keep the overall color palette the same in both spaces, but increase or lower the contrast and drama in each space.

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Now that you have the basics of how to choose a color palette for your room, you might be ready to get some inspiration for your own space! Well, we’ve got you covered there too. Check out some of our favorite interior design ideas in the realm of color—like the most popular living room color schemes, the best color palettes for green, some of our favorite color schemes for fall, and foolproof color schemes for blue rooms.

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11 of the Most Popular Living Room Color Schemes

When it comes to living room design ideas, one of the most important elements to consider is the color scheme! Color sets the tone, mood, and vibe of a space. This can happen through living room paint colors, but also through your upholstery and decor.

Color psychology tells us that certain colors can influence if your home feels more calming or bold, cheerful or stimulating, dramatic or comfortable. Color can also impact how large or small a space feels—no renovation required!

So, when it comes to choosing a living room paint colors, and overall palette for your living room—a space where you spend so much time—ask yourself: what vibe do I want to create? It’s all about finding a color scheme that you respond to and that makes you feel good. And that’s going to be different for everyone!

Color also influences the other pieces you bring into your space—from furniture to rugs, art, and decor. So, landing on living room paint colors and an overall color scheme is a great first step when redesigning any room.

Today, we’re breaking down the most popular living room colors and palettes, along with what mood they’ll strike and what vibe they’ll create in your home!

White

There’s something so bright and cheerful about an all white living room design. It creates a calm, airy, and light vibe—but it’s far from being cold when you mix white with shades of cream and taupe. Varying light neutrals like these will create more depth and nuance in your space. And be sure to offset all the whites with warm wood tones for some rich natural texture throughout.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Those who want a bright—but not colorful—space and those who love natural textures. It’s perfect for boho and rustic styles.

Greyscale

A living room in greyscale doesn’t mean a bleak and dreary space. You can actually approach this color scheme in several ways—either using varying shades of dark and light grey, or pairing grey with white and black for contrast. Either way, a greyscale color palette infuses your living room with cool elegance and sophistication, creating a very cool and modern vibe.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Mod, industrial, and lofty spaces where you can play up the drama. It’s not an ideal choice for those who like lots of colors and liveliness in their space.

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Blues

A blue living room design creates a calm and welcoming vibe to your living room. We love the idea of mixing various shades of blue throughout the space, along with pops of white and natural materials for balance. This color palette is easy on the eyes and creates a very inviting atmosphere.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Those who love classic color combinations—because there’s nothing quite so classic as the blue and white combo. It’s the perfect color scheme for coastal and rustic styles!

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Jewel Tones

Want a lively and bold living room? Consider a bright, multicolor space, brought to life through a mix of jewel-tone colors. In the living room above, we went for a purple wall, which adds richness and drama to the space. We mixed that with a saturated rug, then used a mix of  pink, navy, and yellow accessoires to create a lush looking living room design. But, when decorating in jewel tones, it’s important to ground and balance out the look with wood, rattan, and other natural textures and materials.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Those who want an energized and personality-packed space. This palette would make glam and eclectic living rooms come to life!

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Gold & Green

A gold and green color palette creates a very sophisticated and elegant vibe in your living room—especially when pulled together with other warm metal finishes. It’s lively, too, as green represents growth and renewal and gold is a naturally exciting color, associated with warmth and opulence.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Those who want polished space that still has plenty of personality. This is a great look for those with glam style.

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Pastels

Pastels are pale, soft shades of their more saturated color counterparts. So, if you want to create a warm and soft vibe in your living room, decorate in shades of pastel colors. We love the look of mixing various shades of pastel and blush pinks with light grey and other neutral tones, balanced with brass and wood accents. This creates a living room made for relaxation.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Those who want a peaceful and serene space. It’s a perfect palette for mid-century and transitional room designs.

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Neutrals

Love a good neutral? Try a mix of neutral shades—like white, cream, brown, and black—all in one room, then balance it out with metallics. This makes for great contrast while still creating a calm and inviting vibe.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Rustic and minimalist spaces, and for those who want a neutral color palette but with more warmth and depth of color than a white color scheme.

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Black & White

A black and white living room design creates a very cool and collected vibe. Going for a fully black and white color scheme is quite posh, while adding in other shades, like brown, will add warmth. A black wall may be an unexpected choice for a living room paint color, but it really sets the tone for this space.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Those who love a little drama but don’t want a lot of colors in their space. This is a great palette for those with modern rustic and minimalist styles.

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Green

A green color scheme creates an earthy and serene vibe in your living room. We love combining multiple shades of green colors with rustic, natural woods and taupe upholstery. The result? A very soothing space.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Those who want earthy but polished space. It’s a particularly great color palette for homes with rustic or coastal style.

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Browns

The color brown encourages people to slow down and relax, and also creates a sense of security. So, a mixture of various shades of brown—from tan to rust to chocolate—are great for creating a stylized but warm and inviting atmosphere in your living room. But to keep this color scheme from feeling drab, we added in pops of blue for contrast.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Those who appreciate both modern and elegant spaces, in traditional and rustic styles.

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Multicolor

Here’s some good news: you don’t have to choose just one color to dominate the color scheme of your living room! In fact, we really love a multicolor palette, which creates an eclectic vibe. Above, we used a classic color combination of red, blue, and neutrals. But we brought those colors in through a variety of patterns for a very lively and fun space. Mixing in wood and natural materials helps ground the look.

This color scheme is perfect for…

Those who love classic color combinations but want a space with unique style.

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Inspired Color Palette: The Blush Collection

Valentine’s day might be over, but we are still thinking pink in terms of interior design inspiration. A little on the dustier side, this shade of blush is less sticky sweet, and instead feels muted and moody. To help you get your fix, we curated this collection of products perfectly poised to make you (and your home) feel the blush rush!

blush interior collection

Blush is the perfect hue to give your home a feminine edge or simply add a dash of warmth to a neutral space. Bring on the bohemian charm with West Elm’s blush-colored Sequin Knotted Wool Rug.

Or push the look more elegant and feminine with a blushing accent chair. We have a crush on the Slub Velvet Tillie Armchair in rosewood (Anthropologie). You don’t even have to wander too far out of neutral territory with muted blush pieces like Serena & Lily’s Whipstitch Mohair Throw.

We curated a collection inspired by this trend that makes us blush. If you are looking to warm up a neutral palette, jazz up a sophisticated space, or are simply in search of a relaxing place to rosé all day, we’ve curated this collection just for you! 

Pop the bubbly and browse the full collection below, or try it on in your home with Modsy!

blush interior palette collection

Serena & Lily

Artfully Walls

The Mood of Monet: Bringing Pastels Indoors

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Our big takeaway from this season’s runway collections was color. More subdued than sweet, a palette of moody pastels dominated the 2017 Pre-Fall collections of designers such as Valentino and Bottega Veneta.

A different take on hues usually reserved for baby showers and easter egg baskets, we found these stormier pastels reminiscent of colors employed by French Impressionist, Monet in his Water Lilies oil painting series.

 

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Left: Pre-Fall 2017 Bottega Veneta Collection, photo courtesy of Bottega Veneta. Right: Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1908

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Left: Pre-Fall 2017 Valentino, photo by Gerardo Somoza/Indigital.tv. Right: Monet, Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas, 1919

 

We translated this aesthetic from the runways to a modern living room. Using the same palette enhanced with luxurious materials such as velvet, burl wood, and mother of pearl, this living room captures the same moody vibe as the runway collections.

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For those who love a minimal yet chic space, this collection will be plucking at your heart strings. Not sure what your Modsy style is? Take our Style Quiz to find out.

Shop all the products in this collection below, or see it in your space with Modsy.

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moody pastels home design collection

Natural Curiosities

Jonathan Adler

Jonathan Adler

 

moody pastels home design collection