Decorating with color is an easy and affordable way to make your home feel custom and unique to your taste. Follow these 6 designer tips to bring colors together beautifully.
How to Decorate With Color and Confidence
Hello friends! My name is Kristin, mom of three, interior designer and lover of color. I own the online interior design company Postbox Designs, where I custom design rooms for clients all over the country.
And friends, I’m starting to see a shift in requests from my clients. For the last few year the neutral style has prevailed (thanks to the Farmhouse Style and our nation’s obsession with all things Fixer Upper!).
Lately more and more of my clients are wanting to see C-O-L-O-R in their spaces.
But decorating with colors can be intimidating. I get it.
Neutral is safe, but when you are going to go bold with color….Which color? How much to use? What if you get sick of it?
These are all of the concerns I have heard from people, so today I want to show you how to decorate with color and some surefire tips to make sure you have the confidence to do it right!
I even created a custom colorful Living Room Mood Board & Shopping List to get you started, so be sure to read to the end!
6 Tips for Decorating with Color
Tip #1 to Decorating with Color:
Stick with a Limited Color Palette
If you don’t want your room to look like a Crayola box threw up in it, you want to stick with a palette of 2-3 main colors. Then you can always use a few other colors as a small accent-think a throw pillow, a piece of art, flowers, etc.
In this Living Room by Pencil Shavings Studio, her two main bold colors are lime green and blue. She only used two main colors in the space but it looks so vibrant and colorful.
She also used Tip #2 (see below) of surrounding her colorful pieces with neutral pieces-which really lets them shine. The white shutters and neutral sisal rug don’t compete with the bold colors of her wall and furniture.
Related Reading: How to Create a Color Palette from an Inspiration Photo
Tip #2 to Decorating with Color:
For Every Colorful Item, Add 3 Neutral Ones
Okay, I totally made up this rule! But the point is, if every item in your room is bold and colorful, then nothing stands out.
So carefully choose a few bright and bold pieces, then purposefully layer in some neutral ones around it.
Designers and photographers call this “negative space”. It allows your eyes to rest, then draw in on the pops of color throughout the room.
For example: If you have a sofa full of bright, bold, and fun throw pillows…then consider a neutral sofa, such as a white, tan, or even a navy/denim. This neutral backdrop allows the pillows to really stand out and not get lost.
Related Reading: Decorating Around a Bold Colored Sofa
Another way to do this is by keeping your walls pure white. This works especially well if you have a lot of colorful wall art.
This is the exact reason that art galleries almost always have white walls-it lets the artwork shine.
I personally love Benjamin Moore’s “Decorator White” and “Simply White” as wall colors. Cassity added thin board and batten wainscoting in her last home to add interest to “plain” white walls.
Related Reading: Tips for Choosing the Perfect White Paint Color
If you go bold with your furniture, try a neutral rug such as a sisal or jute one.
But if you include a wild and fun area rug, try neutral furniture.
It is just like opposites attract-they make each one look better!
I recently had a client come to me who wanted a bold, over-the-top colorful Living Room. And her #1 request? A bright pink rug!
In order to make these bright bold colors work, I had to mix in a lot of neutral elements as well, such as a leather sofa, and neutral side chairs and tables.
Tip #3 to Decorating with Color:
Repeat the Same Colors Throughout the Room
A big fear of a lot of people is that the room will be “too much” if they add color to it. But if you stick with Tip #1 of only choosing a few main colors you will keep this in check.
Let’s take it one step further!
To create a layered, professional look, I am suggesting using multiple shades of the same color.
For example, in this photo the designer at Pencil Shavings Studio used blue and yellow as her main two colors. But within the room you can see multiple shades of blue: royal blue, navy blue, teal, pale blue, and aqua.
Repeating these different shades of blue helps keep a cohesive look. This also helps you create a plan: you know you want to look for multiple items in the same color family.
Read more: How to Choose a Color Palette for Your Home
In this case the blue shades show up in her sofa, rug, mirror, and artwork.
If you are stuck on ways to bring in the same color in multiple ways, then try to come up with three shades of the same color, then purposefully look for items in that shade. For example, if you want to decorate with yellow, you can add in shades of mustard, lemon, and a pastel yellow.
You also want to repeat these colors throughout the room. For example in this space, adding the blue ribbon to the mirror was the perfect way to bring in a pop of blue on that wall.
Tip #4 to Decorating with Color:
If You are Afraid to Use Color, Try a Gallery Wall
Artwork is a surefire way to bring in color.
If you are hesitant about adding color, or you are afraid you will get sick of the look, I would highly recommend a Gallery Wall full of inexpensive art.
I love using Etsy as a source for custom artwork in virtually every style and color, and the Remodelaholic Shop artwork selection is always growing!
If you stick with digital downloads, you can find a print for less than $10 and then have the flexibility to print off yourself in any size.
This is a really easy and inexpensive way to experiment with color and swap it out for a whole new look in the future.
Related Reading: How to Design a Modern Balanced Gallery Wall
If you are still feeling hesitant about adding too much color, there are a couple of ways you can bring some calmness to the look.
- Use the same color frame throughout your whole Gallery Wall
- Intersperse some black and white photography (like family photos) or black and white art within the Gallery Wall
- Include a photo of a favorite vacation spot or special memory to make it feel personalized. Then pull out some of the colors in that photo in other artwork.
Need some help getting started with your Gallery Wall?
Looking for some inexpensive art pieces for your Gallery Wall? I created this Roundup of 7 Modern Art Pieces Under $10! You can access them all right here in my Free Resource Library.
You might also like this roundup of 40+ printables to add to a gallery wall.
Tip #5 to Decorating with Color:
Your Coffee Table is Your #1 Way to Add Color
So maybe not the coffee table itself…but what it can hold on it!
Adding a colorful tray full of bright, fun decorative items is the easiest way to add color to your room.
I love this room example from Handmade Mood, because the furniture in the room is completely neutral. However, when you see the photo all you see is the bright, vibrant colors of summer.
Colorful vases, bright flowers, or a stack of punchy colors goes a long way. These are inexpensive items and low commitment. Have fun with it! And you can easily swap out this look with the season.
Related Reading: Easy DIY Patterned Trays
Tip #6 to Decorating with Color:
Pretend to be a Kid and Color Those Walls!
My final tip to decorating with color is probably the least expensive and one of my favorites – PAINT.
Almost anyone can do it, you can buy it at the local big box store, and paint can go such a long way in to adding color.
If you are feeling really bold, painting your walls a bold color is the only thing you need to create a colorful room!
Read more: 100+ Ideas for Painting an Accent Wall
Benjamin Moore’s “Hale Navy” and “Salamander” (a dark green) are two of my favorite colors to paint built-ins.
In this Home Office from Home Bunch, painting one wall this deep “Salamander” by Benjamin Moore takes this room to a whole new level. Try to imagine this room without that green wall…it isn’t nearly as interesting, is it?
Related Reading: How to Test a Paint Color BEFORE You Buy a Gallon
Want Even More Ideas on How to Decorate with Color?
Here is all of the info you need to decorate with bold color with this blog post on “5 Color of the Year Paint Trends for 2018”:
A Note on Colorful Furniture
This is a hard one, so let me preface it!
If you are bold and fun and have a favorite color that you will always love, then you might be one of the few people who can spring for a bright pink sofa and love it forever.
And honestly, by adding one super bold piece of furniture will be the total focal point of your room, and everyone will leave talking about it.
However, for a lot of us, we may not want a lime green sofa in five years.
99% of the time I encourage my clients to go neutral with the big, expensive pieces of furniture (such as the sofa) and add in color in easy-to-change ways such as artwork, throw pillows, blankets, décor items, and rugs.
However, if you want to add some color in your furniture, you can test out the waters will small furniture pieces. An accent chair, a side table, or a bench are great ways to add a punch of color.
This is a recent Master Bedroom Makeover I did for a client-by adding in this rich green bench, and repeating the color (Tip #3) in this bold artwork, it took her bedroom to a whole new level. But we kept in plenty of neutral pieces (Tip #2) to balance it all out.
Custom Mood Board & Shopping List:
How to Decorate with Color in Your Living Room
So now you have my best 6 tips to incorporate color confidently into your room. And I have one final thing to share with you: I created this custom colorful Living Room Mood Board just for you Remodelaholic readers! Simply click on the link below to take you to the source:
These sources are affiliate links, which we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase. Your purchases help our team continue to create quality informative content. Learn more and read our full disclosure policy here.
Some items have been discontinued, so we’ve updated to link to similar items.
Rug | Sofa (in “White Twill”) | Yellow Chair
Blue Dot Pillow | Navy Pillow | Yellow Pillow
Coffee Table Accent Table Green Tray
Artwork Table Lamp Balloon Dog
Paint Color: Benjamin Moore “Mountainscape”
I hope today’s post gave you the confidence you need to add some color to your life!
If you want to know more about how Postbox Designs works or how you can work with me via online interior design, I would love to chat more with you! You can find out more about How It Works or drop me a line at [email protected].
Finally, my favorite design source happens to be a free one. I have a Free Resource Library chock full of design Guides, Worksheets, Mood Boards, Source Secrets and more. You can sign up for free right HERE.
A huge thank-you to the entire Remodelaholic staff for letting me hang with you again today! I’ll see you next month for another custom Mood Board and sharing some of these designer tricks with you all!
More tips for decorating with color:
- Tips for choosing bright, bold paint colors
- The easy way to create a paint color palette from an inspiration photo
- How to test a paint color before you buy
- how to easily stain wood any color
- 10 colorful affordable trays for decorating