Overcoming the Fear of Color in Home Decor

Overcoming the Fear of Color in Home Decor
bold copper accent wall

bold copper accent wall

Many people live with an all-beige or all-brown interior paint and decor palette for years, simply because they aren't sure what else to do. Afraid of making a mistake, they instead do nothing.

But that in itself could be a mistake — a growing body of evidence suggests a colorless environment negatively affects our mood, our ability to concentrate, and our productivity. Lack of color can make us feel uneasy, without even realizing why.

So how can you break the beige habit, and start introducing color to your home's interior design?

Accessorize with color 

A good way to start exploring color with minimal risk and investment is by adding colored accessories to an otherwise neutral space. A few cheerful accent pillows, curtain panels, or a bold rug will give the room immediate personality and spark. Further, it allows for easy, budget-friendly updates: just change out key items for a whole new feel. For simplicity's sake, limit yourself to two or three different hues in a room. How do you know what goes together? Look to a favorite piece of art, a patterned rug or a printed fabric, and pull out the colors you like most.

Color on walls only

Wall color is still the fastest and most economical way to change the feel of a room. When furnishings are very neutral, such as black/white/gray, you can generally afford to go a bit bolder on the interior paint, or even try a pastel if that's your preference.

Combine color on walls and accessories

This combination results in maximum warmth and vibrancy. However, the degree of impact is highly variable, depending on whether the colors used are muted or bold, and how many different colors you combine.

In general, it's simplest if you limit yourself to three colors: one dominant color and two accent colors. Or, you can inject variety just by using different shades of the same color. For example, a pale aqua and a deeper turquoise.

Repeat your wall color on a couple of accent objects in the room. This quickly pulls the room together. Finally, make sure the wall color doesn't clash with any adjoining rooms in the main part of the house. 

paint_color_exterior_juliroland.jpg

exterior paint (Photo by )
A professional color consultant or interior designer can even help you decide on an exterior paint scheme. (Photo courtesy of Paint Color Help.com) (Photo by )

Good to know before you go:

Preparing to shop for your new colors

Assemble items from the rooms you want to paint or decorate into an easy-to-carry format: this could be as simple as a couple paint chips and fabric swatches stapled to a piece of cardboard, or a box with samples of granite, tile and other materials.

A photo of the space is a handy reference, especially if you're shopping for something like rugs and need to visualize the item in context. You'll save a lot of time and guesswork, and increase your odds of coming home with decor items or paint colors that fit.

Finding color inspiration

So you've decided to introduce color, but how do you select shades from the thousands of choices out there? Homeowners say this is their biggest challenge — just too many colors to choose from.

Don’t let the number of choices overwhelm you. Some of those shades won’t appeal to you. Others won't work with your existing furnishings, permanent materials like tile or granite, or style of home. So right away, you can eliminate certain ranges of color and zero in on the ones that suit you best.

But among those options, which will you like best? Browsing home décor magazines and websites is a great way to get ideas. Look for rooms that catch your eye, and set them aside. Going back, you’ll start to see a pattern of what feels right to you. What colors speak to you?

Shopping the vignettes in home furnishing stores can also be helpful. Some stores paint sample walls behind the display, allowing you to see both wall and furnishing colors together.

RELATED: How to Pick Paint that Fits Your Personality

The Final Test

Previewing your colors 

The last step is to test the actual colors you're considering. Most paint companies offer small samples for five or six bucks. Take advantage of these affordable testers: it'll be the best investment you ever make. Color can look different when you see large expanses of it, and can also change dramatically depending on your particular lighting situation. Better to know in advance a color won't work, then after an expensive painting job is complete.

Paint at least a 3-foot square on a couple of different walls, or on a poster board. The latter offers you the ability to move the color around the room, without having patches all over until you decide. Observe the color both in daylight and at night.

After all these steps, if you're still having trouble, or you just don't have the time to develop a color scheme, consider hiring a color consultant or interior designer for guidance. 

About this Experts Contributor:  Juli Roland, owner of Paint Color Help.com, provides color consultation for interior design projects in Dallas, Texas. As a custom matcher for a nationally known paint manufacturer, she's consulted on color for over 13 years. She loves helping homeowners and businesses add a spark to their spaces through the judicious use of color.   

As of Dec. 8, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to changed based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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