Starting a new interior design project can be both exciting and daunting. Choosing paint colors is time-consuming, challenging depending on your decor and window treatments, and feels uncomfortably “permanent”.
These tips can help you quickly create color combinations using three basic design principles. Additionally, we’ve added three useful tips for your brainstorming process.
Choose the color relationship you want
There are three “color relationships” best visualized by the color wheel:
Analogous combinations are color sets using colors that appear right next to each other in the color wheel. Since there is little contrast between colors, analogous schemes have a calming feel.
Complementary combinations use colors opposite each other on the color wheel, creating a strong contrast. Complementary combinations will have a more lively, energetic feel.
Monochrome combinations use only different shades of the same color. Since they have the least contrast, they have an elegant, clean feel.
Apply the rule of three or five
We find things arranged in odd numbers more visually appealing and memorable, including color combinations. Unless you choose a two-color combination, stick to an odd number of colors. Three or five color combinations are ideal.
Aim for a 60/30/10 color distribution
A general breakdown for a three-color combination is:
- 60% for the dominant color, which is a neutral or somewhat subdued color.
- 30% for the secondary color, which is somewhat bolder than the dominant color.
- 10% for the accent, which should be the boldest of all three.
California house painters and interior home designers tend to favor a palette where both the dominant and secondary colors are neutral. For instance, the accent could be coastal blue, or forest green.
Another popular design choice is using natural textures like oak to create an outdoorsy, natural feeling.
Think about function — and feelings — in your paint colors
Think about the function of each space in your home, and the emotions you want to feel when occupying those spaces. For instance:
- You want a room’s color scheme to prime you with the right emotions and mindset for whatever you do in that room.
- You want your office design choices to make you more productive. This might mean choosing colors that resemble a library.
- You want your bedroom to aid in getting a good night’s sleep, so choose darker colors and avoid energetic reds, oranges, and yellows.
Experiment with alternating color distributions
You might opt for a “calmer” color combination in a bedroom instead of an entertainment room. Still, you can tie rooms together by using the same color combinations in two neighboring rooms, in different distributions.
For example, a dominant color in one room can be made a secondary color or accent in the next. There are no rules here, as long as you are excited about your choices that best represent “you”.
Ask your paint store to match colors inspired by your style
Gather sources of inspiration and use them to aid you in creating your style. Your inspiration doesn’t have to be fancy pictures from home decor magazines or blogs. Sources of inspiration are all around you.
You can start by looking at the colors already in your home.
- Your preferred clothing scheme could be a good starting point.
- If you have a piece of furniture or fabric with a pattern you really like, you could use colors from that pattern.
- Or head outside for inspiration from the bay, the season, or other natural elements.
Tell us about your design ideas
We’d love to assist in helping you realize your project idea. Whether you’ve already got a color scheme picked or you’d like to speak to our color consultants, call (925)-595-3081 or contact us online.