Choosing a Wall Color

Choosing a Wall Color

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Color sets a room’s tone. Warm colors trigger emotion while cool colors create a relaxing space. Learn how to surround your family with a pleasing combination of energy and serenity.

Color Basics

Pick up a color wheel and get familiar with common color terminology.

  • Hue is simply the name of a color such as red, yellow, blue and green.
  • Chroma or saturation refers to the intensity of a color, from brilliant to barely there.
  • Value is all about lightness and darkness. Light colors are called tints. Dark colors are called shades.
  • Easy-on-the-eye monochromatic color schemes use a single color in varying shades. Bright splashes of accent color prevent boredom.
  • Analogous color schemes draw on colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. One color is typically the “star,” which is supported and enriched by adjacent colors on the wheel.
  • Complementary color schemes combine colors opposite each other on the color wheel. Pitfall: It’s easy to get carried away and end up with “color clutter.”

The Emotional Side of Color

Color affects emotion and productivity.

  • Warm colors trigger emotion and add intimacy to large spaces. Sunny yellow is associated with creativity and happiness. Red and orange are stimulating and energizing.
  • Cool colors are relaxing and make spaces seem larger. Blues are comforting and soothing. Both restful and rejuvenating, greens bring the outdoors inside. Known as the color of royalty, purples are sophisticated and elegant.
  • Neutrals provide soothing backgrounds that showcase accents and make seasonal decorating changes a breeze.

Color Pulls a Home Together

Base an overall color scheme on a family favorite like a beautiful fabric, a beautiful sunset, a treasured painting or an heirloom quilt.

  • Choose a dominant color that repeats throughout the home for continuity. Too many different colors are distracting and confusing. Follow the 60-30-10 rule: Give 60 percent of a room a neutral background color. Complement the background with 30-percent mid-range hues and fill 10 percent of the room with bold splashes of color.
  • Use a combination of solid and printed fabric in different amounts at least three times per room.
  • Paint or stain occasional tables the same color — it’s a great way to match up different styles.

Test Color Schemes

Test potential color schemes for your home before making major time and money investments.

  • Scour decorating magazines and tour professionally decorated homes for ideas.
  • Collect a wide range of paint samples.
  • Still undecided or worried about making the wrong choice? Test long-term appeal. Purchase small amounts of favorite paints or wallpaper samples and put them on a small section of wall for a few days. Study them by night and day to determine livability.
  • Take advantage of inexpensive paint tints and shades to change backgrounds when the mood strikes.

Make the Most of Colorful Touches

Use your color scheme to add colorful touches throughout the home.

  • Make the entryway inviting — use bold, warm colors.
  • Borrow a tried-and-true tip from interior decorators: Add a touch of black to every room for drama.
  • Get family buy-in. Help family members choose complementary accent and accessory colors for their personal living spaces.
  • Celebrate changing seasons with colorful new accents and accessories. A large bowl of lemons lifts the mood when sunlight is scarce. A profusion of blooms brings summer indoors. An arrangement of colorful fall leaves and multicolored gourds announce the arrival of fall. A vase overflowing with holly and red berries perks up dreary winter days.
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