9 Steps to Picking the Perfect Color Palette

Living room area with Persian rug
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You would be hard-pressed to find anything more important to the design of a room than the color scheme that holds it together. Every room has a color palette, even the ones that are all or mostly one color. And while the style and period of the furniture and the architecture of the room are both huge contributing factors to determining the personality of a space, almost nothing decides the feel of a room as much as the colors that you choose to fill them with.

So whether the project in front of you will be designing a kid's room, a bedroom, home office, or workout room that you have always dreamed of, picking colors is certain to be the first thing you are likely to do. None of your other choices like furniture upholstery, pillows, or drapery will make any sense until you decide on the colors.

Choosing a Color Palette

There are a lot of different ways to decide on a color palette. There was a time when decorating all had to be by the book, but today there are a lot fewer hard and fast rules. In the end, you are looking for something that suits your tastes and expresses your point of view and choosing the right colors is a great, big step towards doing just that. Of course, there's a reason why there are rules—and no, it's not just so that they can be broken. If interior design is not your first inclination, or you are not really sure what good design is, but you want it, then get started by coloring within the lines.

Follow these simple steps to help you choose a color scheme for your home. Learn to mix colors and fabrics and how to repeat color throughout the room. A good rule of thumb is to repeat colors evenly throughout the room in at least three places.

Style and Theme

First, choose a style. Will your room be formal or casual. Then, you will want to land on a theme for your room, some examples include French country, English garden, or modern.

Choose an Anchor Fabric

With the style and theme in mind, decide on an "anchor" fabric that has 3 or more colors. This will be the room's main inspiration. Place your anchor fabric in at least three places in the room such as upholstery, pillows, or curtains.

Wall Color

Pick a background color from the anchor fabric as a wall color for your room. You will want to divide color use to approximately 60 percent of the room in the background (lightest) color, 30 percent in the mid-tone color, and 10 percent in the brightest, accent colors.

Flooring and Furniture

Pick a mid-toned color from the fabric for flooring and large furniture pieces, which could be a solid or patterned design. Upholstery can also be done in your anchor fabric or a coordinating fabric.

Accessories and Accents

Use the brightest colors from the anchor fabric for accessories and accents like welting, picture mats, and decorative pillows. Use coordinating fabrics in other scales (larger or smaller) as accent fabrics on chairs, pillows, cording, and tablecloths. Adding dressmaker details in cording and trims is one way to disperse color and add visual interest.

For example, if you decide to use an anchor fabric with an American flag design: you can use white (the background color) for walls, navy (a mid-toned color) on the floor, blue and white ticking on the sofa, and red (the brightest color) for accessories and accents. The coordinated prints could be the blue and white ticking stripe, a navy star print fabric, and a red and white mini-check used on chairs, curtains, and pillows.

Do not be afraid to experiment. Too often people get shy about color and worry about trying new things. While it is always important to keep an editorial eye, embracing color will bring a whole new level to your decor.