House & Home

Tips for adding color in your home

Posted May 10, 2014
Updated May 28, 2014

Photo provided by Howard Eason.

In my design profession, I find that many people are somewhat reluctant to add color to their design space. Many question if they are making the right choices, choosing the correct colors and even questioning where is it proper to add color.

A common reluctance for some clients is they believe that by adding color to walls and surroundings, they are making a permanent commitment.

Color is one of the most important design tools after space planning. Color is used for more than just simply wall color and as a background; color is used to prominently define a space. It can be used to bring special attention to areas, create moods and emphasize a sense of scale to objects.

The prominence of color is one of the things that make our everyday lives interesting. Color is a very integral part of the world around us; likewise, color is crucial to the success of the design. Color is generally associated with objects and events in nature such as a painting, brightly colored flowers in the spring, multi-colored leaves in autumn, or the sky at sunset.

Scientifically, color can be used to show time periods simply through the seasonal color changes in nature. In the design world, color is primarily thought of in terms of objects and surfaces such as fabrics, walls, carpet and cabinets. When designing unified spaces, it is important to know how and where to add color in your home.

Since color has the power to promote or even set up moods, it is important to understand how and where to add color. Both color and lighting play a huge role to help define a room’s visual comfort and functionality. While natural lighting is an important factor, it plays the supporting role to color as lighting can be added or defused through artificial lighting and window treatments during the design process.

In other words, color is most important because it showcases the personality for your space. There are scientific ways for creating color pallets that date back as far as Sir Isaac Newton and the color wheel; but the baseline and purpose for adding color in your design is to create a harmonious space that is attractive to the eye. Color harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order to a design space.

Residential spaces are deserving of special attention when it comes to color. Residential spaces are prominent because the design characteristics and color choices are very personal. This space exemplifies what is familiar to the owner.

Color is introduced in various ways depending on the function of space. Color planning and selection takes on much more thought and consideration because a primary living environment is most subjective to its occupants. This is the space where most time is spent; therefore it should look and feel like an oasis.

A low cost way to transform your space and add huge impact is to simply update your wall color. Paint serves as the backdrop for your design and is very important to the success (or failure) of your design. Warmer color tones add energy and cooler color tones add calmness. Be sure you choose the right color for the energy you want to project in your space.

For example, for a calming and relaxing bedroom use cooler tones such as blues and greens and for high activity areas use warmer colors such as yellow and orange. Most successful design spaces are planned around a specific color and two additional colors are chosen as its subordinates. To emphasize an area as a focal point such as a television or bedroom wall, add a rich pop of color to the wall which is referred to as an accent wall. An accent wall instantly draws your eye to that highlighted area. Another tip to consider instead of a solid color is adding pattern. It can really be an attention grabber.

Painting a room with a darker or more saturated color does not always make a room appear smaller; in fact a darker color can define a room. A tip for successfully using a darker color is to always contrast it by using lighter toned furniture, fabrics and finishes.

This can particularly work well in rooms with architectural details such as crown and window moldings, as well as bathrooms with high contrast white fixtures. Most bathrooms have limited wall space for artwork and accessories, so adding color through a graphic and/or a colorful shower curtain will add visual impact to the space.

For high activity areas such as kitchens and family rooms, it is important to use colors that show excitement and energy. This can easily be obtained through color selection. Shades of yellow and orange can create a cheerful atmosphere and promote interaction.

Earth-tone colors such as green can be comforting in a bedroom because green is easiest and most familiar for the eyes. There are more shades of green than that of any other color.


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