Home Elements: Color Guide

Choose a Perfect Palette in 3 Easy Steps

With paint and decor available in every hue imaginable, adding color to your home might seem overwhelming — but it doesn't have to be! Break down the process with these three simple steps to picking a color palette for any room.

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citrus toned dining room Once you've pinpointed your palette's dominant color, tweak it to set a specific mood. Citrusy green and yellow work beautifully together in this vacation home. Design by Shelly Riehl David.


Step 2: Explore the Rainbow

You’ve chosen your main color, green, but there are thousands of greens, aren’t there? Yes, but don’t fret. You can tweak that green (or whatever shade you choose), again based on mood. Green is friendly and comforting, but if we mix that green with blue to get teal, we add a little calm and tranquility. Want a more lively and cheerful room? Blend green with yellow to get pear. Every color can lean toward its neighbor on the color wheel and pick up some of that mood. Red that leans toward purple is passionate and sensual, ideal for a bedroom. Red that leans toward orange is stimulating and energetic, a good choice for a kitchen.

Once you’ve figured out your main color, you’ll want to choose accent colors. If you chose calming teal as your main color, it can do all the moody work. The accent colors will appear in smaller amounts and won’t affect the mood, which means you can choose from anywhere on the color wheel. Try color-wheel neighbors to create a palette that feels harmonious. For example, enhance your teal with touches of green or blue. Reach a bit further around the wheel to add a bit more excitement. Just think how jazzy teal looks with lime or purple. The further you travel around the wheel from your main color, the more dynamic the combinations. If you pick the color exactly opposite on the color wheel, that teal would vibrate with red-orange accents, a look that is intense and modern.

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