Color Combinations for Rooms


Color is the most outstanding aspect and element of any home décor because it exerts direct influence on the comfort level of the environment as well as the mood of the room’s occupants. Knowing how important color is to the success of a room, many home decorators are intimidated when it comes to choosing color schemes. Fortunately, there are several clever ways to create a great color combination, without having a degree in art or design.

Borrow the Eye of an Artist

  • Painters have a natural, nearly perfect eye and feeling for colors in combinations. The success of their work depends on putting colored pigments on surfaces in a visually attractive way. You can borrow this gift easily. Go to the library, art museum or a poster store and browse the fine arts collections. Focus on the great, tested painters throughout art history, across many periods of painting. Look at pictures from the Renaissance all the way up to the time of modern painters like Warhol. Find paintings that please you or move you. Look for paintings that evoke a lively sense or that calm you. Do not overintellectualize the artwork or the subject matter; just react to the overall color schemes you see in the pictures. Pick your favorite painting from among the group and study the color combinations in the pictures.

    For example, a picture like Van Gogh’s famous “Sunflower” work combines gold tones, greens and browns in perfect combination. Copy this color scheme for your room, both in terms of colors (matching exact tints and shades) and proportions. Your “Van Gogh” room usually will be as successful as Van Gogh’s painting. Of course, frame a picture of your inspiration piece for the wall if its style matches your room design period.

Borrow From Nature

  • Take a beautiful photograph of a natural landscape setting that you love and borrow these color combinations as well. Focus on commercially successful photographs found in books and postcards. These professional photographs are generally more trustworthy than amateur photography when it comes to an eye for good color combinations.

    A photograph of a beautiful Canadian lake will feature blue water and sky, green conifers and white snow-capped hills. Take these colors (in precise hues, tints and shades as well as proportions) and apply them to your room to replicate the effect. If the photograph is good and you follow it faithfully, it will be hard to miss the mark. Frame a copy of the picture and display it on the wall to honor your inspiration piece.

Borrow From Fabrics and Wallpapers

  • Like artists, designers of fabrics have a good eye for color that you can trust. Go to a fabric or wallpaper store and browse the collections. Ask for swatches of patterns that you like. Study the color combinations and proportions. A beautiful brocade made up of various brown and ivory tones that is good enough for a bed treatment will usually also be good enough for an entire room. A wallpaper border featuring birdhouses may not suit your room design, but the color combinations are what you need. Match the tones on the fabric in the same proportions throughout the room. As an added bonus, include a spot of your inspiration fabric or wallpaper in the room as well.

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  • "New Classic Style"; Better Homes and Gardens; 2003
  • "Complete Home Decorating Book"; Nicholas Barnard; 1994
  • "New Decorating Book"; Better Homes and Gardens; 2007
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images
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