If you’re not sure where to begin with color, experiment in a powder room or bathroom, a small hall or area between rooms, or an accent wall. If you’re doing your own painting, pick an area that’s quick to do so you can see your results sooner, and be happy with it or change it. Look at the process as an adventure.
To get started, select a favorite color drawn from artwork, a rug, dishes and an accessory or furniture piece as a main color or accent.
Think About Your Mood
When selecting a color, consider the mood of a room. In a bedroom do you want the feeling to be restful and soothing or dramatic and intimate? Soft, cool colors and neutrals usually create a quieter feeling while stronger colors are for drama.
Do you want a dining area to feel sociable and stimulating or appear formal and quiet? Warmer, contrasting and somewhat brighter colors add to a sociable atmosphere; deeper blue-greens and neutrals will give a more formal ambiance.
Do you want kid’s rooms to create an active and exciting energy or an orderly and restful feeling? Be careful not to overstimulate your children with intensely bright hues. You may not know it, but some brighter colors can lead to unrest and irritability.
Pay Attention to Lighting
The reason why paint stores have light boxes for you to test paint chips:
Natural daylight shows the truest color;
Incandescent lighting brings out warm tones and yellows;
Fluorescent lighting casts a sharp blue tone.
So, a strong color might be too bright and overpowering when used on all walls or next to a large window, but it might be effective when used as an accent wall with indirect light.
Learn the Color Terms
It helps to understand the terminology used to describe color.
Hue is what we call a color. Red is the hue; blue is the hue.
The value of the hue is how light or dark it is.
Saturation refers to how dominant the hue is. As we go from red to pink, the red hue becomes less dominant.
Intensity is the brilliance of the color. The pure colors such as red are more intense than the combined colors such as yellow-green. A stronger intense color usually has a more dominant hue.
If you want a more active space, consider introducing stronger, more intense color. Even if you want a light-colored room, choose colors that are slightly more saturated than off-white or light pastel. Very light color can feel bright and stark when it appears on all surfaces in a room. However, two or more medium-light, closely related pastel colors can create a luminous effect when used in the same room.
Test Your Color Choice
Boost your confidence by testing colors on poster board or large areas of a wall. Don’t be afraid to go beyond your comfort zone: Consider strong, vivid colors or soft, deep neutrals like chocolate brown or olive green as main or accent colors. Or add drama with a stronger color on the ceiling. Tinted ceilings can dramatically change the whole look of a room.
Add Depth With Decorative Finishes
Transform flat, dull walls into interesting and personal spaces with subtle or dramatic visual texture and broken color. Burnished mineral/metal finishes and layered colored glazes add depth. Some examples of softly reflective metals are mica, copper, pewter, bronze and, of course, antiqued silver and gold.