Shades of Style: The Secrets of Choosing Harmonizing Color Schemes

Whether it’s a boldly patterned Oriental rug, the contrast of a stark black frame against a pale green wall, or gauzy draperies set shimmering by the sun, there are countless ways in which color can lend an air of drama, dimension, and energy to a space. But with thousands of color variations and combinations, how is a “regular person” (in other words, someone who’s not an interior designer by trade) supposed to pick the right color scheme the first time around?

It’s easier than you might think. Try the following insider tips:

  • Start from the ground up. If you’re using a multi-colored rug, choose a color to use as the foundation. If the space is carpeted, hardwood, or tiled, use the color of the flooring as your cue.
  • Choose a focal piece. Find an accent item that incorporates the color combinations you love, and use that as your foundation for the entire room’s décor. It doesn’t have to be a major piece of furniture—you can find inspiration in something as simple as a vase, throw pillow, or framed wall art.
  • Go with what you like. Find yourself drawn to the same color time and again? There’s a reason it speaks to you, so capitalize on that. Remember: your focal color doesn’t necessarily have to dominate the space. If you’re dreaming of burgundy, you can incorporate it in accents, such as throw pillows or a single piece of furniture.
  • Draw ideas from the experts. Ever wonder why the rooms in catalogs and on TV look so….together? Because they’re professionally staged by people who know exactly what they’re doing. If you spot a space with a color combination that really works, don’t hesitate to use it as inspiration for your own décor.
  • Create a room with a view. Window treatments are a focal point of any room, setting the stage for color, texture, and formality (or lack thereof). If you have a great pair of draperies in a color you love, use that as your starting point, accenting it with complementary shades.

Got a room that soothes, energizes, or otherwise inspires you? How does color figure into the equation? Tell us what combination you chose, and why.

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