7 Color Theory Basics You Need to Know About Interior Design

7 Color Theory Basics You Need to Know About Interior Design

Color plays a crucial role in interior design and home decor. Your color scheme largely influences how people perceive a room. Choosing the right whole-house color palette can breathe life into your space.

A simple coat of paint can evoke emotion, enhance a specific style and improve cohesion. Color can create a visual relationship between multiple rooms or areas. Learn how to choose the right color for your house’s interior and browse other design suggestions in this guide.

7 Tips for Choosing Color in Interior Design

How do you select the right hues for your space? Below are some tips to help you design an effective color palette for your home and different ways to incorporate it throughout your interior.

1. Choose a Color Family

A good starting point is determining the overall feel you want in your home. Your favorite hues and desired ambiance can guide you in choosing the ideal palette.

Selecting colors from the same temperature family allows the room to flow better. Think reds, oranges, yellows and browns if you prefer a warmer palette. Shades of gray, blue, purple or green reflect a cooler color scheme.

You might opt for warmer tones if you desire a bright, energetic feel for your space. Meanwhile, a cooler color scheme can speak to rooms designated for breaks or relaxation, creating a calming feel for occupants.

2. Opt for Three Colors

The “60-30-10” interior design rule says that you should stick to three colors in a given room:

  • Main color: The main color should represent 60% of the room. It is typically used on walls, anchoring the room and providing a backdrop for your secondary color.
  • Secondary color: The secondary color should occupy 30% of the room. It is ideal for curtains, an accent wall or furniture.
  • Accent color: Your accent color should comprise 10% of the room. It is usually found in lamps, cushions, artwork and other decorative pieces.

This rule helps you create a more balanced color scheme. It especially suits open-floor dining rooms and kitchens likely to be busier and more cluttered than other rooms of your home. However, don’t feel limited by only three color options. You can easily incorporate various shades and tones of these three colors.

If your room’s base color is blue, for instance, you might use a combination of baby blue, navy and gray-blue. Consider choosing one neutral shade and two other tones. When crafting your palette, try to incorporate your neutral tone into each room. This neutral is key in pulling the whole-house color palette together.

You can apply this same concept to decor and accent pieces. Looking at paint swatches can help you grab some inspiration and find colors that pair well together.

3. Complement Walls and Ceilings

Complement Walls and Ceilings

Applying the same color and finish to the walls and ceiling may not be the best choice if you’re looking to brighten up a room. Consider going two or three shades lighter for your ceiling to increase lighting in an otherwise dim space.

A good rule of thumb is to go 20% lighter on your ceiling than the wall. However, you might be able to get away with the same color on the ceiling and walls if the space receives abundant sunlight.

Additionally, a high-contrast lacquer ceiling finish can add depth and drama to your space. Shiny and glossy paint reveals texture and imperfections, making it suitable for smooth plaster ceilings.

4. Connect Rooms With Rugs and Flooring

Flooring and area rugs can help connect adjoining rooms painted in contrasting colors. For example, a colorful patterned hallway runner can bridge the gap between a warmer room and a cooler one. You don’t have to match the wall and rug colors perfectly. One can be slightly lighter or darker than the other and still achieve a cohesive look.

5. Use Trim Strategically

Like flooring and rugs, trim can play a substantial role in connecting the various rooms in your home. Painting all of your trim in the same neutral shade, such as white or cream, can create a sense of flow between rooms. White trim reinforces a subliminal effect, helping connect spaces and making people feel more anchored as they travel through the home.

There are many shades of white, so we suggest choosing your wall colors first, then picking a shade of white that complements them. For instance, a bright white provides a stunning contrast to bold colors while harmonizing with softer hues.

6. Experiment With Lighting

Because color is a reflection of light, the type and amount of light in a room significantly influence color scheme. Experiment with the room’s natural and artificial light to see how they affect color in paint, furniture, fabrics, flooring, rugs and other elements. Fluorescent lamps tend to emit cooler, bluer light, while incandescent lamps radiate more redness and warmth.

Natural light changes from sunrise to sunset. Visit the room throughout the day to examine how the shifting light impacts its colors. For example, a north-facing room will see less natural light than a south-facing one.

A warm color palette helps soften shadows, meshes with artificial light and brightens up a space with northern exposure. Remember that any color with white in it will reflect surrounding colors. White walls will reflect ceiling, rug and furniture colors.

7. Consider Room Size

Your room’s size is an important factor when choosing colors. When working with a smaller room, there are a few ways to make it feel larger, more open and less cramped, such as:

  • Using light, neutral tones for walls and furniture.
  • Choosing sheer or minimal window treatments to optimize natural light.
  • Placing mirrors to reflect light and create the illusion of more space.
  • Spacing out decor and accent pieces for a less cluttered space.
  • Choosing furniture with exposed legs.

On the other hand, perhaps you want to make a larger room feel smaller and cozier. Dark, rich colors absorb light and help create the illusion of a smaller space. You can try out tips like:

  • Choosing deep, warm hues for walls and furnishings.
  • Painting your ceiling a darker color to “lower” it.
  • Using heavy, textured fabrics in bold tones and dramatic window treatments.

Create a Beautiful Interior Design Color Palette With Aalto

Walls and flooring are vital considerations when choosing room decor colors. They help tie your space together by complementing other colors and elements.

At Aalto Marble Inlay, we specialize in original handcrafted marble floor medallions, ready-to-ship medallions, showers and wall backsplashes. Specially tailored to your unique design preferences and room specifications, our products are the perfect way to incorporate your desired color palette into your interior. Learn more about how we can upgrade your space by contacting us today.

Create a Beautiful Interior Design Color Palette With Aalto