|Decorating Made Simple
|Decorating Made Simple
|Solutions for adding color to your home
Decorating Made Simple is the Perfect “How to” Guide for Creating Colorful Interiors.
Decorating Made Simple combines basic color theory with classic color stories in an easy
to understand format that is immediately applicable to your own decorating projects.
This guide is both a primer for the beginner and an inspirational tool for the decorating expert.
|Getting Started - Location, location, location
Whether you’re sprucing up the dining room for the
or preparing the nursery for that new addition,
decorating projects start with a particular location
special occasion in mind. Having identified the
the next step is to identify a source of inspiration
upon which to build your palette. What inspires you
could be as close as the cushion on your couch or as
far away as your last vacation destination. Inspiration
also comes from fashion, nature and art. Assemble
that appeal to you, whether they are fabric
chips or photos cut from magazines.
They are your
Take a good look at these items and notice just
colors attract and hold your attention.
those are the same colors that
you find in the
palette of your wardrobe.
Are you drawn to
hues of reds and yellows?
Or do you find blues and
greens feel better to you? If you’re worried about
missing the latest “trend” just remember what fashion
designer Yves St. Laurent once said, “Fashion
fades, style is eternal.” Don’t forget, it’s your
space; you have to feel comfortable in it.
Hue - Is another name for color,
it can also refer to a color family.
Shade - Is a color or hue that
is mixed with black or gray.
Tint - Is a color or hue that
is mixed with white.
Value - Is the relative lightness
or darkness of a color.
Now that you’ve mastered the basics,
it’s time to take it to the next level.
These next characteristics are what make
a color “complex” but not complicated,
and therefore more visually intriguing.
There are a few basic terms in your color
vocabulary that will help you articulate your
needs and express verbally and visually the
look that you’re trying to achieve.
The temperature of a color is relative to itself and to
the colors that surround it. Reds, oranges and yellows
are usually considered warm colors while blues, greens
and violets are cool colors. When warm and cool
colors share a space, their respective temperatures
Intensity is associated with brightness or dullness.
Intense colors are pure colors with little or no gray.
These are referred to as high intensity colors. Low
intensity colors have more gray in them and as a result
tend to be more subdued. Tangerine and lemon are two
good examples of high intensity colors. These colors
will enliven any space. Terracotta and wheat are low
intensity colors that have a soothing effect.
Undertones are found in all colors except primary
colors. Primary colors red, yellow and blue are single
colors, while all other colors are a mix of colors. An
undertone in a hue hints at a second subtle color or the
color beneath the color. Olive is a good example of
a green with yellow undertones. Pairing olive
with yellow will emphasize the olive to a
greater degree than if you decide to down
play the yellow undertone by using its
complement, which is red.
|How Light Influences Color
Light is probably the single most
independent factor that influences color
in a room. Paint, fabrics, wallpaper are
all affected by light. That’s why it is so
important to “test” a color in a room
before committing to that color.
There are three types of lighting conditions
in a room:
direct and indirect sunlight, and
artificial lighting. Direct
sunlight are diffused through a room either
through a window, door or skylight. Direct
sunlight is consistent throughout the day and is
thought to be the ideal light source. Indirect
sunlight varies throughout the day and therefore
affects the color in a room. Artificial light can be
divided into warm and cool light. Florescent lights
have a cool bluish cast that tends to flatten colors.
It is a bit harsher and sometimes causes hard surfaces
to appear harder. Incandescent or halogen light throws
a yellow cast. It tends to highlight a room’s colorations
with a warmer more comfortable ambiance.
|Warm and Cool Palettes
The color wheel can be divided into half, with warm
colors on one side and cool colors on the other. Warm
colors like red, yellow and orange tend to heat up a
room. These colors are considered energetic and
stimulate activity. These colors are a good choice for
kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, and play rooms.
Warm colors tend to advance and therefore close in a
room. Use warm colors to cozy up a large room.
|Same Room - Two Looks
Warm colors advance and cool colors recede. These
photos showing the same room taken at the same angle
demonstrate that perfectly. The photo featuring the
warm colors appears much closer to you while the
photo with the green hues looks like it was taken from
Cool colors like blue, green and violet are quiet and
tranquil colors. They are best used in rooms that call
for relaxation and calm. Use cool colors in bedrooms,
bathrooms, dens and nurseries. Use cool colors in
sunny rooms where they act as a counter balance to
direct sun light. Cool colors are recessive; they give
the illusion of pushing back walls thereby making a
small room look larger.
|The Impact of Color on a Room
Light colors reflect more light and thus make rooms
larger. Light colors tend to open up a space.
colors work best in rooms with little or no
lighting as they make the best use of reflected
especially during the day. If the room is to be
at night under artificial lighting conditions, colors
a medium value can also be used to great effect.
Dark colors reflect less light thereby closing a space
Darker colors impose a certain mood on a room.
colors are perfect for making a dramatic
are best suited for areas that have a
purpose like a formal dining room or an entry
way. Dark colors can also make a large room
cozier. However dark colors should be used
as these intense hues can become
It’s important to note that whether you chose a light or a dark color, large areas of color appear much darker
once they are painted.
Of course most rooms will have a measure of some
light and dark colors in the room whether as paint,
floor covering, furnishings or accessories. To achieve
color balance and harmony between light and dark in
a room you have only to look to nature for a perfect
example of how to combine light and dark colors.
In nature you find darker colors at your feet (the forest
floor or grass), medium values at eye level (trees,
flowers etc.) and lighter colors above (the sky, clouds).
Color Influences Color
So far we have looked at the impact of light and space
on color. But did you know that color also affects
color in a room? Colors are affected by the other
colors that surround them. Placing two colors next
to one another may enhance an environment or create
color dissonance depending on the colors used. Using
gray with white may cause the white to look dirty due
to the proximity of the color with the darker value.
Colors of high and low (black and white) contrast
define a space more precisely whereas colors of similar
hues and values create a softer environment.
|MONOCROMATIC schemes utilize colors from the same family on the wheel.
This will include all the light tints, dark shades as well as the clean and muted
versions of that color family.
|COMPLEMENTARY color schemes use colors opposite each other on the
color wheel. Used together, this combination of warm and cool colors creates
excitement and energizes any décor. Opposite colors are perfect as accent
colors in a neutral décor.
|TRIADIC schemes use three colors that are equally spaced from each other
on the color wheel. Similar color values can be used, such as primary colors
for children’s rooms. Colors can also be arranged in varying degrees with one
color dominant, another color as secondary and the third color as an accent.
|ANALOGOUS schemes use colors of the same temperature near each other on
the wheel. These schemes evoke a specific mood, such as calm and tranquil or
warm and inviting.
|SPLIT COMPLEMENTARY color schemes combine the two colors on either
side of a color’s complement. This combination of colors adds variety to a
room in a pleasant but active way.
|DOUBLE COMPLEMENTARY color schemes are created by using colors
that are next to each other and then finding their opposites on the color wheel.
When shopping for paint, remember to bring your cushions, fabric, wall or
floor covering samples with you. While you’re in the paint store, use the take
home chips in the display to locate your accessory colors as well. Assemble
a collection of paint chips that best represents the colors found in your décor.
Create your own mini-fandeck comprised of your personal color palette and
take it with you every time you shop for your home decorating needs.
|Mono - it means one
A single color family is all it takes to create an atmosphere of understated
elegance that doesn’t compete with the sweeping staircase in this room. Tints
and shades of orange throughout give this home a total look. Talk about making
Hint: Use variations of the same color in accent pieces - fabrics or carpet in
other rooms - to tie everything together.
|Rules of Attraction
Colors found on opposite sides of the color wheel tend to enhance each
other’s intensity. See how the cool hue of the dusty blue walls enhances the
warmth of the yellow and orange hues found in the thr
ow pillows and the
painting? A sense of ease permeates this space creating a perfect environment
for cuddling on the couch or lingering over brandies.
Hint: Consider using a single color on your walls and then add pizzazz
with accessories like cushions, flowers, vases and lamps. In complementary
colors of course!
|A love triangle of color
Lighting conditions in this room will change the way the color is perceived.
The direct sunlight shining through this bay window will provide a true
representation of the colors in the room. Here colors are at their most vibrant.
In the evening, the artificial light from the recessed incandescent lights, table
lamps, and the fire will tone down the colors considerably.
Hint: A bit of black in a room will enhance all of the other colors in a space.
Hint: It’s a good idea to “try out” a color. Purchase a quart of paint to do a
patch test on the wall to see how it looks under various lighting conditions.
|Welcome to the Neighborhood
The warmth of the oak floor is repeated in a “stepped” analogous color palette
on the wall. While analogous colors appear next to one another on the color
wheel, each color is a different value or lightness. The room also mixes the
warm colors of the floor and walls with the cool colors of the appliances and
cabinetry to create a warm/cool balance.
Hint: The floor is the fifth wall of your house and probably the most costly
area to modify. Take fixed surfaces such as floors, fireplaces and fixtures into
account when decorating. Color can enhance or down play a fixed feature in
|The Company You Keep
Start with olive green and then surround it by colors on either side of its
complement (red) such as dusty rose and clay. This room has a story to tell
as it blends a sophisticated color palette with exotic furniture and accessories.
Many a tall tale will be spun over dinner here. Use medium-to-light values
of these colors in those spaces that require a more formal touch, like living
or dining rooms. With this color scheme, you couldn’t be in better company.
Hint: To enliven the space, try adding a tint of the wall color’s complement
to the ceiling or trim.
|Complementary Times Two
A double complementary color scheme doubles your decorating pleasure
by giving you four colors from which to choose. The geometric area rug
with complementary copper and khaki colors not only grounds the room
and attracts the eye but also serves as inspiration for the wall color.
The complementary colors represented by the peach pashmina throw and blue
denim bed skirt add visual interest to the room without making it feel busy.
Hint: To achieve color balance in any color scheme try the 60/30/10
approach. The largest color area is the walls, which account for 60 percent
of a room’s color. The second largest color area, 30 percent, will include
window treatments, upholstery or floor covering. Accents make up the
remaining 10 percent of color in a room.