A pop of color will transform any space or your entire home. You can show your personal style, but it can be risky. It’s not easy to pick the perfect combinations. Paint chips and combinations at the hardware store are a great start, but if you want to create your own palette, here are some tricks designers use.

Understand the Your Space:

The right color will depend on the light, texture and the way one space flows into another. Consider how light moves through a room during the day and into the evening. The type of light bulbs you use will change the look. Choosing a paint color is important, so is the sheen or type of paint. The sheen, flat, satin, semi-gloss or hi-gloss will affect how light reflects off the painted area, which dramatically change the color. Sheen can also affect how the paint rolls onto the surface.

  • FLAT/MATTE requires fewer coats; best for slow-traffic areas, like ceilings and bedrooms
  • SATIN/EGGSHELL boasts a more durable sheen; ideal for high-traffic areas and small spaces
  • SEMI-GLOSS/GLOSS resistant to dirt and scuff marks; easier to clean
  • HI-GLOSS very durable, stain resistant, and easy to clean; highlights flaws

Use the Color Wheel:

color wheel

The color wheel is the easiest way to choose color schemes that work, for both beginners and experts.

The classic color wheel is made up of 12 different hues. These hues are classified into 3 categories:

primary colorsPrimary colors (3) the roots of all colors, these colors cannot be created by mixing any other colors.

secondary colors
Secondary colors (3) created by combining two primary colors to get either purple, green, or orange.

tertiarty colors

Tertiary colors (6) come from mixing a primary color with its secondary color neighbors.

The 12 basic colors allow mixing of endless combinations and hues. Every combination can then be broken down for even more variety by adding to that color, like white (to tint), black (to shade), or grey (to create tones). With the endless possibilities, it can be daunting to choose a palette for an entire home.

Classic Color Combinations:

Monochromatic Color: Own the color you love

monochramatic paletteOne color rooms allow the eye to move easily without interruption, creating a peaceful space. They can also be great backdrops for artwork, rugs and furniture. You can create contrast by using tints, shades or tones. You can deepen, brighten or mute the color and keep it all in the same color family.

Analogous Combinations: Nature’s Way

analogous paletteAnalogous colors – think ocean waves and sunsets – often resemble nature’s palette. Choose two or three neighboring colors from the color wheel to create transitions that blend seamlessly.

Complementary Combinations: Opposites attract

complimentary paletteColors directly opposite on the color wheel create contrasts that are still eye-pleasing. Complementary colors create energy and interest.

Triadic Combinations: Vibrant and Bold

triadic paletteBalance is key to using the Triadic Combinations. Not quite opposites, but equally spaced from one another on the color wheel. Be sure to choose one of the three as your main color, then use the other two as accents.

Split Complementary Combinations: Now You’re Getting Fancy!

split complement paletteThese are  almost complementary colors. Choose a main color, find its complement, and then choose the hue to the right or left of the base color’s complement. This will give you a more subtle contrast.

Practical Tips for Your Home: 

tints shades tones

Blend Rather Than Match.

Use different shades of the same color in the same room. For example a throw pillow that’s the same tint as the wall, but not an exact match. Everything exactly the same makes a room feel overdesigned.

Neutralize for Balance.

Balance bright colors with some neutral elements, or start neutral and add pops of color using colorful accent pieces.

Brightening Dark Rooms.

Shadows become more distinct in low-light rooms. Look for colors that absorb shadows and keep it bright. Lighter colors don’t work. Look for saturated jewel tones with rich hues. You can experiment in low light rooms, even if the color looks too bright, super saturated colors mellow in shadows.

Color Illusion.

Give the illusion of an open floor plan by using the same color in adjacent rooms. Painting hallways a contrasting color to adjacent rooms can cut off the eye and make the spaces look (and feel) smaller.

Existing Elements.

Trim, woodwork, countertops, furniture, cabinets all need to be taken into consideration. Choose colors that will work with those elements already in place. Same goes for when you’re shopping for new elements or accents. Use American Lifestyle’s printable Color Guide for an on-the-go resource for your home’s color palette to have on hand when you spot that perfect shade of fabric or other home accent.

Pantone’s Color of the Year 2015:

pantone 2015 color marsala

Marsala Pantone’s Color of the Year,

Naturally robust and earthy, Marsala is a reddish shade that’s comparable to a wine and terra-cotta.

Pantone’s Color of the Year 2016:

pantone 2016 color blue and pinik

“A softer take on color for 2016: For the first time, the blending of two shades – Rose Quartz and Serenity are chosen as the PANTONE Color of the Year

Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”  www.pantone.com

Here are a few Pantone combination suggestions:

pantone 2016 color combo suggestions

Dial Down.

Tone down color schemes by adding white to create tints of bold colors. Even a primary palette can be muted enough to look elegant and not elementary.

Still not sure?

If you really love a color but not sure if you want it on your walls or taking up a large amount of space in your home, try a couple accent pieces of the color first. Artwork, throw pillows, sofa or chair covers are a good place to start.

REMEMBER – You can always change it

Painting and decorating are time consuming and can get expensive, but keep in mind, you can always change it if you hate it.