9 Reasons You Just Can't Get Your Color Scheme Right

Living room of modern home
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Why Creating a Color Scheme is Easier Than You Think

A color scheme is the foundation of all of your home decorating projects. Creating the right color scheme gives you a roadmap to choosing the right decor and furnishings. It's so much easier to choose the right surfaces and accessories if you already have a color palette to work with.

Color Scheme vs. Color Palette

You might see the terms colors scheme and color palette used interchangeably, which is fine. Technically, there is a little difference between a scheme and a palette, and knowing this can make decorating much easier. Your color scheme is the very basic plan for how you'll be putting colors together for your home. Using color theory, you could easily create a monochromatic color scheme using neutral colors, or maybe another simple scheme, but the precise colors won't be defined just yet.

Knowing which type of color scheme you'll be putting together is your starting point to creating a color palette. Your home's color palette will have the specific colors you plan to use in your home. By fine-tuning your color palette you can choose paint, fabric, and decor, with confidence.  So, when you think of your color scheme as just a reference for all of your future decorating projects, it's a much easier task to create one. The real fun comes when you are able to refine your color choices into paint samples and swatches for your home makeover. 

How to Get Your Color Scheme Right This Time

If you feel as though your attempts at creating a new color scheme have fallen short, here are the ways that you may have gone wrong in the past, (and how to fix them!)

Maybe You Just Don't Know Where to Start

If you're starting with an envelope filled with paint samples and fabric swatches and absolutely no plan, your color scheme is going to go off-track pretty quickly. The best color schemes for your home aren't created by inspiration alone. Because your color scheme is the basis for so many future decorating decisions, you'll want to take the time to choose the right type. You don't have to memorize complicated rules, but if you learn the basics of the color wheel it can open up so many color scheme options. 

Identify the type of color scheme that appeals to you, then you can personalize it with the colors you love. Once you know the basic colors you'll want in your home, you can turn to inspiration to create a color palette with those colors. Taking the time to start with a defined color scheme actually frees you up to be more creative and allows you to get the colors right.

Are You Afraid of Change?

Change can be hard! One of the most common color scheme errors is trying to add new colors to an outdated palette. The taupe paint color you chose fifteen years ago may be a "safe neutral", but color trends have come and gone since you painted your home with that pinkish-taupe. While your favorite color trend may be poised for a comeback, it may not be this year.  Adding new accessories and pops of color will not make a color with an outdated or wrong undertone look right. It may be time to change every color in your color scheme and start fresh. 

If you have been putting off major color changes because you are afraid you'll choose the wrong colors, then start with the most basic one in the room. Look at recent color trends to see what colors are popular right now. If you're risk-adverse with color, start with a simple neutral color scheme with colorful accents. 

So Many Colors, so Little Space

Decorating without a color scheme in place can leave you with a house filled with colors that have no relation to each other. It all starts so innocently when you shop without a plan and bring mismatched accessories home. Mismatched paint colors are also a sign of a color scheme gone wrong. Without a color blueprint, every room looks different which can make your home look chaotic and small.

Even if you love lots of color in your home and varying paint color from room to room, you can still work with a color scheme to help the entire house feel more spacious and coordinated. With a color scheme figured out, you can decorate throughout the house with your colors but in different ways. A living room with beige walls can have blue and white accents, while your master bedroom can have blue walls with added pops of color in white and beige. You still get the color individuality you love, but by working with a color scheme first your home will look more pulled-together.

Are You Listening to Everyone Else's Opinion?

It's so tempting to ask for advice from friends and family when you're trying to choose colors for your home. Everyone has an opinion about what looks great. Your color scheme can go wrong because most decorating opinions from well-meaning friends are based on their taste and their own home. If you are considering a new color scheme and the unanimous opinion of friends and family is that it's really awful, then you'll probably want to get a professional opinion on it before committing any color to your walls. 

Don't forget that everyone sees color differently, so what really matters is what the people living in your home think about your color scheme. Once you have a color scheme and palette idea then it's time to share it with your friends if you'd like their opinion. You can become even more confused if you share color swatches first, as everyone will have their own favorite out of the pile of samples. It's much better to make a few decisions on your own first, then you can make adjustments easily.

Are You Afraid to Ask for Help?

If you just can't seem to get  your color scheme right, it may be time to get in touch with a professional color consultant. Working with a professional color consultant can save you time and frustration. You can find a local color professional for an in-home consultation, which is perfect if you already have an idea of what you'd like and want some reassurance. An in-home color consultation often includes follow-ups to fine-tune paint colors that are sampled on your walls.

Color consultants are available online too, and can offer pre-made color palettes for you based on your personal taste, or you can have a custom color palette created just for you and your home. A color consultation may be a great investment if it can save you from costly decorating mistakes. 

Do You Assume All Neutral Colors Are the Same?

Neutral color schemes are the most popular for home decorating. There are so many different neutral hues out there that you may assume that one beige or gray is similar to all the others. Not recognizing that neutral colors are just as complex as all the other colors can be a reason why your color scheme isn't working. Creating a neutral color palette is a great foundation for a gorgeous and livable decorating plan, you just have to get the neutrals right. 

The most common problem in choosing neutral colors is not acknowledging their undertones. A strong undertone can completely ruin a neutral color scheme. Learning about color undertones and how to use them can help you choose neutral colors for your home. An undertone is a color that may not be apparent at first but lurks under the surface, sometimes not appearing until it's on a wall or in a decorated room. Each color has a unique undertone due to the colors used to create it. 

Sampling colors in your home is the best way to discover any troublesome undertones that might cause a problem with your color scheme. Flooring, cabinetry, and even the landscaping outside, can intensify a color undertone, so sampling or viewing swatches inside your home is essential.

Are You Choosing a Color Scheme That Just Doesn't Work With Your Decorating Style?

You're free to create any color scheme you like but there are colors that work best with each decorating style. It's quite possible that your earlier attempts at creating the right color scheme failed for this simple reason. Once you define your decorating style, it's time to look at color inspiration in rooms of that style. Even if you aren't in love with the colors traditionally used in your favorite style, you can see how the colors fit together in the inspiration rooms. Find the right colors for your home may be just as simple as learning how to use each one in the right amount. The decorating 60-30-10 rule is a great guideline to getting your colors organized into a color scheme that works for your home.

Finally, How do You Know When Your Color Scheme is Perfect?

You know when your color scheme just isn't working, but how do you know when you have gotten it right? Your color scheme is perfect when you stop noticing it. The moment you are sitting in your living room without thinking "that beige looks so green," or "I really need to do something about that chair, it looks out of place.," is the moment you realize that your color scheme finally works.  When everything in your rooms seems to flow together effortlessly, creating a relaxing space that finally needs nothing to feel complete you'll know when you have gotten your color palette right.