A blank canvas?

Decorating with color in your house or apartment may seem to you like a blank canvas waiting for a novice painter to spatter their paint all over it and produce a hideous mess.

Many of us only start decorating when we need to, and because it's so infrequent we don't get much practice.

But there are ways of approaching decorating which can ease the decision making process. The size of your home can affect your choice of color. But so can you personal likes and dislikes.

Large home

The size of your house or apartment will influence how you plan your decorating. If it is large, then you can afford to have different schemes in each room.

The one thing you have to remember is to make sure that there is some continuity from one scheme to the next. This is particularly important in doorways and in corridors. You need to make sure all the different textures and patterns work together.

One way is to have neutral colors on the floors and walls in the corridors and stairs. You can then have more definite colors and patterns in the individual rooms, and the neutral colors won't 'fight' with them.


red walls

The use of a dark color for the upper walls gives this dining room a dramatic effect. The contrast between the white panels below and the ceiling emphasizes the contrast. Dining rooms are an ideal place to use dramatic effects, especially at night in subdued lighting conditions. Using the same flooring in the adjoining rooms gives a feeling of continuity.



orange sofa

Modern colors for a modern sofa. When colors of this depth are used, make sure the wall and ceiling colors provide a good background. The three pillows still use the same orange, but in a reduced amount, which gives a break from the solid color of the sofa and provides a backrest.


Color groups

You could use one of the color groups as a basis for your designs. Suppose you wanted to use complementary schemes for decorating with color. Each room could have a complementary scheme of its own, but with some unifying factor. For example, each room would have to use aqua blue somewhere, but it could be as a main color in one room and an accent color in another.

Contrasts of tone

Or if you wanted to use contrasts of tone, you could decide that yellow would be the base hue, and all rooms would use tints and shades of that yellow as their main color.

All change!

Then again, you might decide that you wanted to have a complete change in each room. One would use contrasts of tone, another a primary scheme, a third would use hue harmony, and so on.


white sofa with flowers

Plain creams contrast with dark browns, and a splash of color from the flowers. Minimalist schemes need some getting use to if all you've ever known are traditional interiors, but if you're looking for simplicity in this complex world they might be just what you need.


Small home

If you are working with a much smaller area when you're decorating, then it make sense to create a more harmonious whole. You can do this by selecting your color palette based on whatever scheme you choose. Then you use those colors in different proportions in all the rooms.


Suppose you chose four colors based on harmony of hue. We'll call them A, B, C and D. In room 1, use A on the walls, and B and C in smaller areas. In room 2, use D on the walls, and A and B in smaller amounts. You get the idea?

Because they are all in harmony, the colors in each room will also be harmonious. And because you use all four colors everywhere, the whole house or apartment will appear harmonious.

If you are using carpets, it's quite often a good idea to have the same carpet everywhere. This has two advantages.

  1. It's usually less expensive and less wasteful to have the same carpet rather than different ones.
  2. Using the same carpet everywhere makes a smaller property look bigger, especially if the carpet is light in tone.

The same applies if you want to use wood flooring. By keeping the same finish everywhere you'll get a less disjointed appearance.

Don't forget you can also vary the style of each room.

You could have painted walls, another could have a paint effect such as dragging, while a third could have wallpaper. You could have rugs of different sizes and colors, drapes in one room and shades in another. One room could have traditional furniture and another more contemporary items.


All this can make a smaller property appear to have more to it than first appears.


bright rug

When decorating with color for contemporary schemes brighter colors are often used successfully. The deep pink of this rug is echoed in the stripes on the chair cushions and in other items in the room.


If you find you can't decide on the colors for your room, or are not sure if the ones you've chosen will look right, there's a very useful product which may help. (Only for residents of the USA and Canada.)

The Shortcut to Perfect Paint Colors - Paint Color Cheat Sheets


Give a thought to the number of rooms and their sizes. Be aware of the space you have and think how you can use it to its best advantage.




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