Pick the Perfect Color Scheme


A great color scheme can transform your home into your own ideal living space. It can communicate personality and set the mood for any room. But how do you go about choosing the perfect combination from a nearly limitless spectrum of hues? Here are some tips, tricks, and tools to guide you as you decorate with color.

Where to Begin
Start with a favorite color. It may sound obvious, but if the color resonates with you then it will probably make a good go-to color in your home. Take a look in your closet. These are the colors you surround yourself with already, so you may want to translate them into a room. Another place to draw inspiration is from furnishings you already have. Pick a color from a rug, painting, or bedspread to build from and use throughout your home.

Select 3 to 5 colors to make up your palette. Combining too many colors creates more contrast, and a scheme can get too busy. Like highlights and lowlights, they don’t have to be exactly lighter and darker versions of your main color, but consider mixing a range of values. A common formula interior designers use is the 60-30-10 rule: 60% of the room should be the main color, 30% is a secondary color, and 10% of the scheme is an accent color.

Put Them to Work

    • Select your color scheme based on how you want the room to feel. Warm colors generally provide an energizing effect, blues and greens are more calming. Keep these qualities in mind while decorating an active, busy kitchen or creating a cozy bedroom retreat.


    • Try some color tricks to manipulate a sense of space. Painting a large room in warm colors will bring the walls in, while cooler colors can open up and brighten a cave-like space. Long curtains draw the eye upward, giving the illusion of height, as will a light-colored ceiling.
    • Pay attention to the lighting effects in a room. Natural light changes in quality over the course of the day. Incandescent light is redder than sunlight and fluorescent light is bluer, and they can change a way a color looks. Check the colors you want to use under different types lighting at different times of day to determine whether you need a slightly different shade. The paint department of your local hardware store has various lighting sources you can test them under too.


  • If you prefer a neutral background or you’re limited as far as what you can change, introduce your color scheme through accessories. Window treatments, rugs, pillows, and artwork can bring visual interest as well as add pattern and texture.
  • For rooms that open onto each other, try to avoid using drastically different colors. It creates a better transition if they flow more naturally into each other. For continuity through your entire house, alternate your main, secondary, and accent colors in each room. Switch them up from room to room but have hints of them all over the house.

universal_smartstuffColor-Selecting Tools
There are a wealth of online tools to help you visualize your color scheme. You don’t need to be shopping for paint to use the color selectors on paint companies’ websites. Use sample room photos or upload your own. Browse swatches or build from scratch. Search for inspirational palettes on websites like Pinterest and Design-Seeds.com.

Individual color preferences are subjective, but you can create a color scheme of favorites that works for you!