I get asked about color only second to “where did you get that”! So today let’s chat about 8 color lessons that will change the way you think about decorating! These color lessons will help you be a better decorator! Today’s post is a MUST READ!
Color is a very complex topic when it comes to decorating but my superpower is the ability to break down these very multifaceted concepts and give you easy to understand doable lessons that you can use in your home!
Here are 8 COLOR LESSONS that will make you a better decorator…
IT’S EASIER TO DECORATE WITH A FEW GOOD COLORS
A color palette is a beautiful thing when it comes to decorating! Choosing colors for a room or preferable for your home and sticking to them is super important and our first color lesson.
A few sure way to complicate the decorating process is to…
- work with too many colors in your home
- use only a couple colors in your home
- constantly switch or change colors in your home
- not know what colors you are working with in your home
Choose a color palette that works together and is uncomplicated! You will be so happy if you keep things simple.
Choose 3-5 great colors that work well together and then add white and black. You can also use tints (lighter versions) and tones (darker versions) of one of the core colors from the color palette.
This seems like a simple thing to do… and it is! But it also is a gorgeous thing to do!
INCLUDE COLORS YOU ARE STUCK WITH IN YOUR HOME AS PART OF YOUR COLOR PALETTE
Do you have a red or rust brick fireplace you cannot paint? Or floors with the orange tinge of golden oak? And you just can’t change or replace them. Is there something in your home you have and are stuck with and really can’t change it? And don’t like the color?
Listen, this is a hard fact… we all have things we don’t like but have to live with in our homes! And oftentimes there is really no way to hide them. So we need to put on our big-girl pants and deal with them. This is a little tough love but it will really help you decorate, my sweet friend!
I think the best way to deal with those dreaded unchangeable colors is by incorporating them into our color palette! Yup!
You have heard the saying, “If you can’t beat ’em join ’em”. And that is my best advice when it comes to a color you don’t like and have to live with.
If you don’t add that bit of red from your fireplace to your color palette then the red in the brick will AWAYS look out of place and awful! Always!
The image below has both rust and blue in the fireplace so the homeowner choose to pick up the gray blue and used it as more than an accent color!
And included some rust accents in the color of the rug. Very cleaver! And pretty!
If you are stuck with a purple sofa then incorporate a bit of violet or a pretty periwinkle into you decor by using accents in that color. A pillow or a throw or a vase are great things to use too in an unfortunate color. It’s best to use something small so if and when you can change that purple elephant in the room you can also let go of those purple inspired accent pieces and not give them a thought!
Embrace the color you are stuck with as an accent color. Just a couple items in a color close to the one you are stuck with placed around your room will pull the whole room together.
COLOR IS ALL ABOUT THE UNDERTONES
One of the biggest reasons color is so complex is every color has an undertone! Undertones are the subtle colors that hide behind the primary color that help it to play or fight with other colors!
Take the color white for example. Did you know there are over 5,000 colors that are classified as white? Why so may variations of one color? The answer is… undertones!
Whites can have cool undertones such as gray or blue or green. And they can have warm undertones such as red or pink or peach.
The subtle color or undertones added to a clean or pure color to make it interesting is what really defines the color!
Undertones are so worth being familiar with! You can read about WARM AND COOL COLORS HERE.
KNOW WHAT CLEAN AND DIRTY COLORS ARE AND USE THE RIGHT ONE
When I learn about clean and dirty colors it was like a big old lightbulb going off in my mind! Oh, this is something you really need to know about if you are a home decorator!
Why should we know about clean and dirty colors? Because we all want a beautiful home! And knowing what makes a color clean and what makes a color dirty will make decorating so much easier! You see, clean colors like to live with other clean colors and dirty colors like to live with other dirty colors. And when clean colors are mixed with dirty colors then it’s really quite a mess! And a room begins to look “off” and “dingy”.
Here’s a huge post with everything you need to know about CLEAN AND DIRTY COLORS.
USE LOTS OF WHITE
White has the magic ability to make everything in a room look fresh and clean! I also think white keeps a color palette from looking too dull! My best advice is to use lots of pretty white when you decorate!
DON’T CHOOSE A COLOR IN ISOLATION
A color looks different around other colors. So never, and I repeat NEVER, choose a color in isolation!
That goes for wall color and a sofa color and even a lampshade color!
Colors affect one another! So the colors of things in your room need to be seen together. If something looks off or the colors look dirty that is probably because one or more colors are not working together. And when the culprit or culprits are removed your room will look better!
Many home decorators choose things like wall color or big ticket items like sofas or leather chairs in isolation, looking at little swatches or no swatches at all!
We really need to see colors together in the room or rooms they will live in to see if they work.
I am the queen of the returned item! I will not live with things I don’t like or are the wrong color. Yes it’s a pain but living with things that don’t play well together is even harder.
COLOR LOOKS DIFFERENT IN DIFFERENT LIGHTING
So many reader and clients ask me “how will (name a wall color ) look? But I know what they are really asking is how do you think this wall color will look at different times of day and in different lighting?
And there is no easy answer to that question. But there is an easy way to tell what a wall color will look like… paint it on your walls! Paint big swaths of paint on different walls and look at them in daylight from the time you wake up until it gets dark. Look at it in the incandescent light you will be using in the room too.
Light affects color. There are huge changes in the way color looks in different light. And often big items can reflect or cast their color on a wall too.
All the walls in our home are painted Benjamin Moore Simply White. The picture above was taken about 10:00 am. The dining area and kitchen gets lots of bright, almost direct light and the living room get light but nothing direct. Look at the walls! I love this picture because it shows the affect light has on one wall color!
Light affects all wall colors! Not only white.
We painted two bedroom in our StoneGable home StoneGable home Simply White. One room I just loved and the other room not so much!
The difference? The room I did not like had a huge tree outside a big window in the room and the green from the leaves reflected off the white walls making the ugliest sickly green.
I painted the room Benjamin Moore Indian White and it looked so much better!
Light and the reflectivity of the paint you choose have a huge affect on color!
KNOW THE 60-30-20 COLOR RULE
I think this rule is older than the hills! And it’s that old because it works! And it is pretty easy!
I also like the 70-20-10 rule too which is a close cousin to 60-30-20.
The sixty part of the equation means that sixty percent of a room should be one color. That is taking the total of all the things in the room.
And a very savvy decorator would know that the sixty percent color should be a neutral. I’m not saying white or even beige, but a neutral. There are tons and tons of beautiful neutral colors. Gray and all its sub colors are neutrals.
White, sand, bone, caramel, conac, buff, sepia, blond and on and on are all neutral colors.
Saying that I do love beige. It is such an interior design workhorse and it often maligned! You can read WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE COLOR BEIGE here.
My personal preference is a light neutral but use a neutral you love!
Now let’s look at the thirty percent number. It should be a secondary color. Choose a color that works with your primary color. If your primary is darker, think about going lighter for your secondary color.
And the twenty percent of the 60-30-10 equation is an accent color. May people call this “a pop” of color. Choose a color that works with the primary and secondary color.
White and black don’t count. You can add them in as you wish. Just make sure the white looks good with the other colors. See clean and dirty colors above.
Having a working knowledge of color by learning and using these color lessons can make you a better and more confident decorator! These topics are so important and worth remembering when decorating your home!