Four Tips For Choosing A Color Palette

Are you on Team Neutral or Team Color? Or are you a mix of the two? Don’t worry, you’re totally allowed to be! And all kinds of colors can be combined to create a cohesive color palette. Holy cow, did you catch all of the alliteration happening right there??

As an “in-the-middleist” (if you missed it, you can read about my made up design style HERE), I bridge both sides of the spectrum, taking relatively neutral base color schemes and injecting some color from time to time. Maybe I lean more toward Team Color, but in moderation and with a tight and mostly toned down scheme.

Color is a great way to bring personality and life to your home. But when I say choose a color palette, I don’t necessarily mean bold, bright color. A lot can be said for subtle, neutral schemes. Or dark and moody ones. Today I’m sharing four tips to help you come up with the just right color scheme for your space.

Use the Color Wheel

The color wheel is a centuries old tool created by Sir Isaac Newton that maps out colors and their relationship to one another (THIS site does a good job of breaking down the basics).

Let’s take a trip in the way back machine to elementary school art class. Do you remember the three primary colors? Red, yellow and blue. These colors can’t be made by combining any other colors. And by mixing primary colors together in various combinations, they form every other color imaginable.

By mixing two primary colors together we get secondary colors: red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green and blue and red make violet.

Next, tertiary colors are created by combining the primary and secondary colors that sit side by side on the color wheel. They’re named by hyphenating the primary and secondary colors such as red-orange, blue-green, etc.

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We all have a favorite color or two, right? So start there. Pick a color or colors you love and feel like you live with and not get sick of too quickly, lol… very technical parameters! But it’s true. Maybe you love red, but maybe in small doses. So don’t make it the main color of your scheme or you will probably be ready for a change sooner rather than later. From there, you can choose one of the following approaches to color harmony as a jumping off point to form your color scheme:

Analogous Colors

The first approach to color harmony and building a color scheme is to use analogous colors. Analogous colors are any three colors side by side on a 12-part color wheel (broken down to include the six tertiary colors as shown above). Perhaps your favorite color is blue. Your color scheme could be blue, blue green, and green. Or it could be blue, blue-violet, and violet. They don’t have to be the most true forms of the colors as seen on the wheel above, they can be more subtle variations. And of course, you can mix in pops of other colors, but these three would be the base of your scheme.

Complementary Colors

The second approach is to use complementary colors. Complementary colors are colors that live directly opposite each other on the color wheel. These combinations tend to be more bold. Think yellow and purple, green and red, or blue and orange. In their truest form, complementary colors give off a lot of energy. The combinations are said to buzz and vibrate off of each other when paired side by side. Again, as with analogous color harmony, you can choose more subtle versions of each color yet still get some of that punch that’s inherent with complementary colors.

Look To Your Wardrobe

I totally get that picking a color scheme for your home can be intimidating. Perhaps you’re hesitant to use the color wheel to pick colors. Maybe you’re not sure your favorite color will translate to your home decor. Trying something new can be a big time and financial investment and you don’t want to make a mistake. I hear you!

If you’re not confident in putting a room together, but you are confident in your wardrobe and like the outfits you put together, you should have no doubt that you’ll be able to put a color scheme together for your home. Unless you wear all black… then maybe this isn’t the method for you. Although dark and moody schemes can work too! But if you have some color in your wardrobe, look to those awesome outfits you rock every day for some inspiration on how to combine colors and dress your room. If you like how it looks on you, those colors (and you) will look good in your room too.

Look to Nature

Does Mother Nature ever go wrong? Well, yes, kinda sorta. But only when it’s the dead of winter and the grass is brown and the trees are bare. For the most part,¬†though, she is quite the color schemer. Just think of all the flowers and trees, the oceans and thick glaciers, a sunset or all of the beautiful members of the wild kingdom: the plumes of a peacock, the wings of a butterfly or a school of tropical fish in crystal blue waters.

The beauty is all around us if we just take time to look. Within a single flower an entire color scheme can blossom. See what I did there? Take a walk in nature or browse through a book of botanicals at your local library. Watch the National Geographic channel, or flip through the magazine. I find myself in awe and deeply inspired with every sunset I see or whenever I get to witness a perfect turquoise wave crashing onto a rocky shore. Sigh… such serenity…

Go Neutral

If all this color talk scares you and you just can’t bear to have color in your home decor (whether bold or subtle), you can always go neutral! Neutral color palettes are still color palettes and they can be beautiful in their own right. And you really can’t go wrong! Every neutral color goes with every other neutral color Yes, even brown and black! It’s 2019, they’re friends now. They hang out. They’re cool.

Bonus Tip!

When all else fails, search Pinterest! lol… I’m not kidding though. Search Pinterest. If you search “color palette” on Pinterest you will find a plethora of combinations, pulled from inspiration photos galore, all right at your finger tips. You can be more specific if you have a particular color in mind, and search for “pink color palette” or “yellow color palette.” And then, just like magic, all sorts of color combinations appear right in front of you. Ones you may have never thought of in your wildest dreams…

The possibilities really are endless. And as you can see from this snapshot, not everything is bold color upon bold color. Yes some are. And some are subtle. And some are a mixture of subtle and bright, like the scheme drawn from the bird sitting on a birch tree branch. Subtle blue grays mixed with bright pink, orange and coral.

Maybe you’re still hesitant to use one of theses schemes within a single room. But you can use it as a starting point for creating a whole home color scheme. Seeing that certain colors work together, you can draw one or two colors from the scheme for one room and then maybe overlap one of those colors in the next room and add one or two more from that same scheme. See the schemes in front of you, choose one that speaks to you, and then take that leap of faith. You got this!

How do you come up with your color palettes?

Many thanks and much love,

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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