How to Choose a Color Scheme

Discover your color preferences with eight tips for picking perfect color palettes.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionComplementary colors — those opposite each other on the wheel, such as red and green — provide more definition and tend to make rooms more formal and exciting. This is a good plan for areas where you plan on entertaining, like this dining nook by designer Sue Adams. (Photo by Sam Gray)

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Tip #5. Use the color wheel.
In general, analogous color schemes — colors next to each other on the color wheel, such as blue and green — are more casual and relaxing, and work best in informal or private spaces. This is a good strategy for a bedroom, where you want to rest and recover.

Whatever color scheme you choose, McCauley advises to put something black in every room. "The black clarifies all the rest of the colors in the room," he says. Try a black lampshade, a black vase or a black picture frame.

Tip #6. Use the rule of 60-30-10.
"When decorating a space, divide the colors in the space into components of 60 percent of a dominant color, 30 percent of a secondary color and 10 percent of an accent color," McCauley says. The walls will most likely be the majority, the upholstery would represent the secondary color and accessories such as a floral arrangement or throw pillows would make up the rest. "Works every time!" he says. "The colors are properly balanced and there is a shot of color (the 10 percent color) for interest."

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