One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to completely alter the interior design of your home is through painting, but splashing color onto the walls of a room is a prospect that makes some novice designers very nervous.
Many people are most accustomed to walls painted in white or another pale neutral color, so they are unsure where to go when they want to depart from that safe harbor.
Painting your home doesn’t have to be intimidating or difficult, as long as you avoid a few basic pitfalls. Just remember these 5 color Don’ts in decorating, and you’ll have no trouble putting together an interior design to enjoy for years to come.
1. DON’T try to “wing it” without testing samples. The color on the paint chip may not look exactly like the color on your wall – and even if the color itself stays true, the way the eye perceives color is affected by the hues around and behind it. Looking at a sample in the store may not give you a faithful impression of what the color will look like on the wall you intend to paint.
The level and quality of light in the room changes the appearance of the paint; lots of natural sunlight lends a very different cast to a wall than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs do. Moreover, the shape of your space affects the color choice too; dark colors make a room look smaller, and lighter colors create an open and airy atmosphere.
2. DON’T crowd your space with too many colors. Numerous bold colors strain the eye and make your room feel cluttered and frantic. Avoid this overly “busy” appearance by limiting your color palette to three carefully chosen colors, at least one of which is a more neutral tone to offset the bolder, more attention-catching hues.
Remember the color wheel here: Adjacent colors work well together and complementary colors (on opposite sides of the color wheel) intensify one another. This can work in your favor by making your color choices more eye-catching or against you by emphasizing the unflattering undertones of a color. If you choose a brown with pinkish undertones, don’t pair it with green unless you want that pinkness to stand out.
3. DON’T be afraid to go bold. Even with a narrow palette, you can make striking color choices that give your room a distinct personality. Especially in rooms where the furnishings have a larger neutral balance, like bedrooms and the dining room, you have more room for bold experimentation.
When selecting your neutrals to balance out your palette, don’t feel stuck with white, black, or beige; any natural color can act as a neutral, including terra cotta red or a leafy forest green. As long as you keep the more obviously artificial colors to a minimum, you have a lot of room to play.
4. DON’T neglect the emotional impact of color. Different colors have distinct psychological effects on the viewer, creating different moods for a room. Red is passionate and aggressive, yellow is cheerful and attention-grabbing, blue is calming and trustworthy, purple is regal and mysterious, brown is homey and solid, black is sleek and elegant, and white is simple and innocent.
Consider what you want your room to say when choosing your color palette. Not everything is ironclad, however, so don’t feel constrained by cultural associations between color and gender, for instance.
DON’T ignore your furniture. It’s easier to design around furnishings and then paint the walls accordingly than it is to replace or reupholster your sofa and chairs to fit your paint color. Whether you use textile colors as your neutral in the room or pair them with one of your paint choices, try to bring all the colors in the room together in a single palette.
As a general guideline, your color composition should follow a 60-30-10 pattern, with your primary color occupying 60 percent of the space in the room, your secondary color comprising 30 percent, and the remaining 10 percent for your accent color.