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Color Palettes: Interior Design for Homes

As stated elsewhere in this issue, choosing a color scheme or color palette is vitally important for any room. Try to determine all of the major colors you will be working with first. Don't do it in a hodgepodge fashion. When you choose your palette first, it will be easier to pull it together and you'll stay focused. You'll probably make less mistakes as well.

Since color can visually stretch or shrink a room or even the elements in the room, choose accordingly. For instance, if your kitchen is huge and you want to make it more cozy, paint it a warm tomato red or a dark, forest green. Those colors will advance and make the room appear smaller. However, if you're working on a small guest bath, paint the walls a light, pale, cool blue. This will help make it feel larger and also bring a calm feeling into the room.

Colors can also elicit an emotional response:

  • Green = soothing
  • Yellow = uplifting and energetic
  • Red = passion and daring
  • Soft Pink = sweet and delicate (often used in hospitals)
  • Blue = calming and quiet
  • Orange = warm and cozy Purple = sexy or spiritual

For a no-fail palette, use the color wheel. Choose your favourite color. Choose either an analogous color (one next to it on the wheel) or a complementary color (one opposite it). Select one color to be dominant. The other colors will be accent colors.

If you stay within your group, your colors will not clash. And even if you're using bright primaries, you'll still be ok. Remember though, that all color can be divided into warm and cool spectrums. Warm colors work best with other warm colors. Cool colors work best with other cool colors. Visit your local paint store. Notice the racks of paint samplers. You'll quickly be able to differentiate between the warm colors and the cool colors. Those colors that are between each extreme and generally able to blend nicely with both warm and cool colors.

If unsure, buy small quantities of paint and try it out at home first before committing to large cans. How it looks at the store is one thing. How it looks at home is an entirely different matter as color is affected by light and adjacent colors. Testing is always a good idea.

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Barbara Jennings is author of 10 decorating books: Decor Secrets Revealed, Rearrange It, Home Staging for Profit, Home Staging for Yourself, Arrange Your Stuff, Advanced Redesign, Pro Art Consulting, Where There's a Wall - There's a Way, The Art of Hanging Art, Great Parties! Great Homes!

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