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15 Designer Tricks for Picking a Perfect Color Palette

By: H. Camille Smith and Kathy McCleary

Our insider tips will make it easy to fill every room in your home with color.

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Photo: Tobi Fairley. From: Tobi Fairley.

Pick a Color, Any Color

If only choosing a color palette for your interiors was that easy. Well .... actually, it is! Our palette-perfecting tips explain the color rules that designers follow and make it a snap to put them to work in your home.

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Choose a Color Scheme From the Largest Pattern in the Space

If you've got patterned upholstery, a colorful rug or large piece of artwork, pluck colors you like from the pattern. For a neutral wall paint color, look to the pattern's whites and beiges.

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Decorate From Dark to Light, Vertically

A real "cookbook" way to make any space look good without much risk, says designer Mark McCauley, is to use darker color values for the floor, medium color values for the walls and light values for the ceiling. "Any interior space replicates the outside world," he says. "The exterior environment is generally darker below our feet (the earth itself), medium-valued as you look straight ahead (buildings/trees) and lighter skyward."

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Photo: Photo Credit: Edward Addeo ©

Start With the Formal Areas of the House

Specifically, the living room, dining room and entry way. Choose a color scheme for those areas first, then pull one color from the scheme. For example, take the red sofa and tone it down (say, to burgundy) for an accent in more private spaces such as the den, office or bedroom.

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