Brown walls with red and cream curtains
Erik Kvalsvik

Red All Over

Bold and intense, red is the reigning drama queen of colors. It is the color of passion and power, and definitely isn't for the faint of heart. Because of its reputation for stimulating appetites, red is often found in dining rooms.

One way to ensure that red won't overpower a room is to pair it with an equally dramatic color, as this chocolate brown dining room illustrates.

Blue and white upholstered headboard
Andreas von Einsiedel

True Blue and White

This color combination's history is rooted firmly in the export porcelain that made it popular, and, even today, you can scarcely open a home magazine without seeing blue-and-white china in its pages.

When translated to a room, it is sometimes nautical, but always chic. To keep it current, try combining deep cobalts with pale aquas, and, of course, don't forget to add plenty of white.

Yellow walls and sofa accented with brown
Erica George Dines

Not-So-Mellow Yellow

This classic wall color was immortalized by decorator Nancy Lancaster's "buttah" yellow London living room. When paired with rich browns, yellow's sunny disposition takes on an air of maturity without losing an ounce of cheer.

White slipcovered sofa flanked by mirrors
Tria Giovan

Try It White

Always crisp and definitely cool, the color white speaks of a care-free summer, but can be beautiful year-round. Decorator Gerrie Bremermann calls white "soothing and uplifting," and uses it to marry French, Italian, and midcentury antiques.

A chic, all-white room may seem easy to achieve, but looks can be deceiving. To do it successfully, add plenty of texture and a little shine -- such as a seagrass rug and metallic lamps.

Grey-green library with ticking-stripe upholstery
Tria Giovan

Gray Matters

Though this moody color may evoke images of stormy, unpredictable skies, its recent incarnations are a bit more cheerful.

When gray leans a bit toward green, it pairs nicely with blues, white, other greens, and yes, even orange.

Black iron canopy bed
William Waldron

Black and White Is Just Right

This user-friendly color combination can be found in many applications. From black-and-white photography to zebra-skin rugs, it seems there is no end to its possibilities.

Art is an easy way to bring the sophistication of black and white into your home. For a little more drama, add in accent fabrics. If the pattern is overscaled, it will make a bold statement, while smaller prints can have the effect of a neutral.

White walls with neutral upholstery and a zebra-hide rug
William Waldron

Neutral Territory

Viewed by some as anti-colors, caramels, camels, taupes, and browns continue to have a place in home and fabric design. A fitting backdrop for art, antiques, and accessories, neutrals can be very effective when executed well.

This restful Atlanta living room, designed by Betty Burgess, is a study in texture and patina. A linen velvet tuxedo sofa is accented by silk pillows, while the 19th-century French chairs are covered in a simple linen.

Layering a graphic rug over seagrass keeps things interesting, while bits of metallic finishes (on the clock, sconce, and frames) add glamour.

Black Chinoiserie screen behind table covered in books
Tria Giovan

Black Magic

It is said by some that no room (or outfit, for that matter) is complete without at least a touch of black. Whether or not you subscribe to that philosophy, there is no denying the importance of black.

Bits of black in accessories and hardware can give a room a sense of permanence, but be sure to break it up and keep it from looking too serious.

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