October 23, 2022

How To Use Colors In Home Decoration

Home décor colors are difficult to choose. The colors you choose must match the home’s paint colors, and this can be problematic if you have eclectic decoration tastes. But once you learn how to use colors in home décor properly, you’ll:

  • Know which items to buy
  • Master color schemes and placement

We're going to start with a few, quick tips that will help you begin your journey to making any home feel comfortable, cozy and inviting.

How To Use Colors in Home Decor - 7 Simple Tips

Deep teal is the most popular color in the world, according to a 2017 study that includes 30,000 people in 100 countries. However, trending home décor colors may work well in one home and not another.

A lot of factors are involved when choosing the right home décor colors.

The following tips will help you get more familiar with coloring and choosing the right colors for your space:

1. Start Experimenting With Small Rooms


Small rooms are the best place for experimentation, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money buying items for this space. Designers agree that you should begin with a small room to decorate when you don’t know where to start.

The rooms that fit into this categorization are:

  • Office
  • Guest room
  • Loft

Small rooms allow you to test out new décor or even wallpaper patterns. However, you do want to go into the decoration process with a general plan of what you’re trying to achieve in the room. Different colors will elicit varying feelings, which is something that we’ll be discussing more in the following sections.

2. Open Spaces With The Right Shade of White


White is one of the colors perfect for smaller spaces because it will help make the space feel “larger.” Yet, there is one shade of white that you’ll want to avoid: yellow whites. Instead, opt for the following shades of white to make your space feel larger:

  • Gray-white
  • Blue-white
  • Crisp white

Gray or blue undertones work fine to make spaces feel larger and more spacious. With that said, you can do things, such as add a large white lampshade in the corner of the room or add white curtains to the windows to make a space feel larger.

3. Invest in a Color Wheel


If you’re just starting to understand colors, you need to invest in a color wheel. You can make extensive use of your color wheel, and it will help you choose complementary colors like a professional.

For example, if you want to choose complementary colors, all you need to do is:

  • Grab your color wheel
  • Look for colors on the exact opposite of each other on the color wheel

Additionally, you can also use different color tones for the color on the opposite side of the wheel. Using this tip, you can create a vibrant color scheme in your home that looks inviting and welcoming.

PS: We’ll discuss how to use colors in home décor using a color wheel further down in this guide under the “What Colors Go Together Home Décor" section.

4. Different Colors Cause Different Emotions


Colors have a way of creating emotion, and there is actually a whole psychology of colors that you can learn about, too. Instead of having to dive deep into this practice, the following colors and their emotions will give you a good head start:

  • Blue is known for being gentle and peaceful when light shades are used and can represent dependability and strength when dark blues are used.
  • Green has a strong association with nature and growth. The color green has a calming effect when it’s seen, especially when you use it alongside other cool colors.
  • Orange is a strong warm color, and it’s known for creating a feeling of positivity and enthusiasm, too.
  • Red is known for being a color of energy, passion and urgency. In the right context, red can even increase heart rate.

Of course, these are just a few of the many colors that you can choose. If you want to create an office that inspires you or a gym that helps motivate you, be sure to choose décor that can help create these feelings for you.

Using the right home décor colors can help you make your office feel vibrant and happy, or you may use a shade of purple to spark the imagination. 

5. Bolds and Wallpaper


If you want to create a space with personality, you can add bold colors and even wallpaper to the room. Often, we see bold colors and wallpaper used in bathrooms that want to make a statement and stand out.

You can add bold décor items to the space or even remodel with bold tiles.

However, remodeling just for a color choice is a big undertaking and one that you need to be 100% sure will look good in your space.

6. Large Spaces are Perfect for Dark Colors


Dark colors, such as dark blue and even black, are in style. A lot of homeowners are painting rooms black, and it’s because darker colors work very well in large rooms. Charcoal is another choice.

Why choose dark colors?

They work as an anchor for the space. In fact, dark can make the room feel safe and supportive. If you have a larger space, try using some of these darker colors to see how it makes you feel. However, dark colors tend to work in bedrooms and large rooms, but they’re used less often for medium-sized spaces.

7. Think About the Ambiance of the Space


One thing that people often forget when decorating their space is the ambiance of the room. For example, a bright and vibrant room may not need more whites and may do well with a nice, contrasting color.

Additionally, if you have an older home or a unique space, be sure to consider the architectural style in your décor choices.

If you do want to go wild with the colors you choose, do the following:

  • Start with a small room first
  • Choose décor that will fit in another space so that it’s not wasted

Some apps will even allow you to “see” how items will look in your space.

What Colors Go Together Home Décor?

Now, with all of the tips above in mind, it’s time to learn how to use colors in home décor by learning what colors go together.

60, 30, 10 Rule

There’s a rule, called the “60, 30, 10 rule.” What this rule means is:

  • 60% of the room should have a dominate color
  • 30% of a room should have a secondary color
  • 10% should be comprised of accent colors

If you don’t know where to start when choosing the right colors for your space, you can certainly use the breakdown above to help.

Now, you can use color theory or even your color wheel to begin choosing the right décor colors for your space. A few colors that go well together in home décor, include:

  • Blue, beige and white
  • Hunter green, red and white
  • Blue and neon colors
  • Light gray colors and forest green
  • Blues and whites
  • Black, navy and beige
  • Blue and deep greens
  • Gray, white and blacks
  • Gray, blue and sand 
  • Yellow and gray
  • Grays and browns
  • White, tan and mossy green

You can also use your color wheel to find colors to choose that complement each other. For example, if you look at your color wheel, you’ll find orange and blue go together. Now, if you have a blue room, you can choose a cooler or warmer color orange for the space.

Some of the trending colors in home décor are listed below to help get your creative juices flowing.

Trending Home Decor Colors

Home decor colors go in and out of favor quickly. While some colors, such as whites, are timeless, others are bold and in favor for a short time. With this tidbit in mind, let’s look at the most popular choices in home décor that you can follow to decorate your space to perfection.

What Are The Most Popular Colors In Home Décor?

Do you want your space to be hip, upscale and have a modern color scheme? You may want to consider the newest color trends that will expand into 2023 and make your home feel upscale. The colors that are trending with no signs of slowing down are:

  • Jade can be used as an accent or leading color in your room’s décor.
  • Pastel yellow is coming back in style, and this soft pastel will work well with most color schemes.
  • Lavender is coming back as a top room color, and it is a very nice, contemporary color.
  • Green and orange combinations are back, but you want to stick with very soft oranges.
  • Warmer beige colors are coming back and work well with red tones and earthy color schemes.
  • Dark chocolate browns are in style and make a room feel sophisticated.
  • Deep reds are in style, and they can be added to provide a room with bold, vibrant colors.
  • Black accents are popular with many people opting for yellow rooms with black shelves and other décor to make the space really pop.
  • Warm, summery colors are in with a lot of designers relying on pinks and wood décor items to make spaces feel rugged.

Note: Trendy colors are really popular right now and then may be out of style in the near future. If you know that you won’t have a budget to redecorate in the near future again, be very cautious with trendy colors. Some of them may look great for a season or years before they fall out of favor.

Classic Colors That Don’t Go Out of Style

With the trendy colors out of the way, let’s examine some of the colors that won’t go out of style any time soon. These classic colors will last decades and still look good in your space.

  • Sky blue, cobalt and turquoise
  • Gray, blue, green and beige
  • Creamy whites and charcoal
  • Leafy green, creamy white and brown
  • Gray, white and indigo
  • Orange, white and navy
  • Silver and seafoam
  • Yellow and earthy green colors

All of these colors should be used together for them to remain timeless. Gray and whites are a good example of two colors that haven’t gone out of style. In contrast, some of the brighter greens that homeowners painted their walls in the 1970s and 80s are surely out of style and shows a dated home.

The nice thing about paying a lot of attention to the color of your décor is that it’s much easier to replace most decorations than it is to repaint or remodel a room completely.

However, you may also want to consider the current season that you’re in when choosing decoration colors. Seasons come with their own, fun colors and will make sure that you never get bored with the interior of your home.

Decorating with Season Colors

Changing your home’s décor with the seasons will help make your home feel refreshed and new every few months. Best of all, you don’t have to invest in a big renovation project. Instead, just swap out a few décor items and accent spaces to transform the room.

Here are some colors to focus on when decorating with season colors.

Fall Colors for Home Décor

Fall palettes feature warm, rich and dark colors, including:

  • Orange
  • Brick red
  • Dark green
  • Warm wood
  • Mustard
  • Grays 
  • Maroon
  • Gold

Adding accent pillows, décor pieces and textiles with these colors can help make your home feel fall-ready.

Spring Colors for Home Décor

Spring signals warmer weather and blooming flowers. Incorporating spring colors into your home can help warm up your space and make it feel brighter and airier.

Here are some spring colors you can incorporate into your home year-round:

  • Sage and Mint: These two green hues can make your home feel brighter and more inviting. Aim for cooler hues to keep it light and airy.
  • Yellow and White: Yellow is a classic spring color, and it pairs well with white. Incorporating a third spring color, like green, can make your home feel cheery.
  • Beige and Pear: Pastels and muted neutral colors can work well together in a spring palette.

Adding just one or two bright colors against a beige or white backdrop will make your spring colors stand out without feeling too overwhelming.

Summer Colors for Home Décor

Summer home décor colors are ideal for beach homes, but you can also refresh your home for the season to make it feel brighter and more inviting.

Summer color palettes often incorporate shades of:

  • Sand
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Seafoam

But they can also include bright, bold colors. Popular summer color palettes include:

  • Beige and blue: The colors of sea and sand. These hues are ideal for coastal themes.
  • Seafoam and white: These colors brighten up a space while making it feel more serene thanks to the seafoam green.
  • Coral and aqua: If you’re not afraid to be bold, these two colors will brighten up your space and add character.
  • Yellow: A natural choice for summer. Yellow hues will add cheer and help brighten up the space, especially if you have an abundance of natural light.

If you have white or neutral-colored walls, you can incorporate colorful accents as the weather warms up to update your space without having to invest in a complete renovation.

When To Use Bright Color Patterns

Bright colors are on-trend again, but like with any décor trend, it’s important to know how and when to use them. 

Here are some tips:

Paint Your Front Door a Bright Color

One great way to add a pop of color to your home without going overboard is to paint your front door a bold color. 

A bright colored door will give your guests something interesting to look at when they are walking up to your home.

Choose a color that contrasts the rest of your home. For example, a turquoise door will stand out against white siding. If you have a dark blue home, on the other hand, a bright yellow door can add cheer and make your home stand out on the block.

Be Bold in the Living Room

The living room is another great place to add some bright colors and patterns, especially if you have white walls. 

Brightly colored accent pillows or curtains can add a pop of color without feeling overwhelming. Choose fun patterns and designs that are cozy and welcoming.

You can also add colorful:

  • Artwork
  • Sculptures
  • Accent furniture
  • Accent walls

Just be careful not to overdo it.

Bright Colors are Ideal for White Rooms

White rooms are the perfect backdrops for bright colors because they will really make them stand out. Try adding one or two bold colors to make the space feel energetic and cohesive.

Limit the Number of Colors

When adding bright colors, it’s important not to go overboard. Stick with two or three colors to give your eyes a rest. 

For example, a turquoise sofa can add a pop of color, but sandy, neutral wall colors and accents can help keep the space feeling grounded and balanced.

When To Use Dark Color Patterns

Dark color patterns often get a bad rap. Many people steer clear of dark colors because they’re afraid it will make their space feel small, gloomy and depressing. But when used properly, dark hues can make a room feel cozy and even lively.

Here’s how and when to use dark color patterns in your home:

To Tie a Room Together

Darker hues can be used to help tie a room together, especially if you’re decorating with pieces from different eras or your home has an eclectic vibe. 

Painting your walls a dark color, incorporating dark furniture or hanging dark window treatments can help create a more cohesive look. 

To Balance Out Light Colors

If you’re still apprehensive about going all-in on a dark color scheme, you can use darker hues to balance light colors. 

For example, white walls can balance out dark furniture or window treatments. If you paint your walls a dark color, you can use light neutrals to add contrast and break up the space. 

Also, don’t be afraid to incorporate different shapes when using light colors to balance and contrast your dark colors. Different shapes will grab attention and add character to your room.

Use Dark Textiles to Add Drama

Incorporating dark textiles into light color schemes can help balance things out and make your room feel more high-end.

Try adding dark:

  • Curtains
  • Rugs
  • Bedding
  • Furniture upholstery 

Dark-colored textiles allow you to incorporate these richer hues on a smaller scale. They can add a subtle touch of elegance and sophistication while making the space feel a little more inviting.

Allow an Abundance of Natural Light 

If you want to incorporate dark colors into your home, whether it’s in your bedroom, office or living room, make sure that you’re thinking about natural light.  

Where does the sunlight fall? These are perfect areas for adding dark colors because the sun will make them naturally visible. 

If you decide to paint your walls a darker color, consider removing window treatments and letting natural light shine through. Frost windows to let light without sacrificing privacy. Rooms with transom windows are also a great candidate for dark wall colors because the sun can shine through without worry.

If you have a skylight, try placing a dark-colored chair or rug underneath it. 

Anywhere where there’s an abundance of natural light is a great place to incorporate dark colors.

Use Dark Colors in Any Room

It’s a common misconception that dark colors can’t be used in small rooms. In fact, dark colors can help add drama to a small room. Just be mindful of natural lighting. The more natural light, the better if you have a smaller room.

In larger rooms, dark décor or wall colors can make the space feel cozier and warmer. 

Incorporate Architectural Elements

Architectural details can benefit rooms with dark décor. For example, dark wall colors with white molding, trim and ceilings can add interest and help restore balance.

Whether you choose dark or light color patterns for your home, it’s important to understand the difference between dirty and clean colors to make your home look professionally decorated.

How To Mix Clean And Dirty Colors In Home Décor

When decorating your home, it’s important to choose your colors carefully and strategically to create the look and feel that you want. What you may not know is that some colors are “clean”, and some are “dirty.” When mixed and matched improperly, your entire room can look off.

Yes, you can mix dirty and clean home décor colors, but you have to do it properly.

But first, let’s define what the terms dirty and clean mean.

  • Clean colors have very little black or gray added to them
  • Dirty colors have more black or gray added to them

It’s not always easy to tell whether a color is clean or dirty in isolation, but putting the color up against others in your room can help you determine whether it’s a good fit.

  • If the color really jumps out at you, it may be too clean.
  • If the color is too heavy compared to others, it may be too dirty.

As a general rule of thumb, clean colors should be paired with other clean colors, and dirty colors should be paired with other dirty colors.

However, there is an exception. Dirty colors can be added to a clean color scheme in very small proportions to tone down the brightness. Likewise, clean colors can be added to a dirty color scheme in small doses to brighten things up.

Because it can be very tricky to mix clean and dirty colors in home decoration, it’s usually best to stick to one side. Most people’s homes have dirty colors because they’re easy to work with and have a softer, more welcoming feel.

Here are a few other tips for working with clean and dirty colors:

  • Earthy paint colors and finishes pair well with muted accent colors
  • Grays, whites and greiges pair well with pure, saturated accent colors

Understanding how to differentiate between clean and dirty colors and pair them together properly can really take your home’s décor to a more professional level.

Final Thoughts

Colors can add drama and interest to your home’s décor, but it’s important to use them carefully and strategically. Use this guide to help bring your home décor vision to life and make your home an oasis.

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An interior design professional with a Master's degree in Architecture and 14 years of practical experience.
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