Colors can speak volumes to you and about you. There are complex ways to explain what makes one person seek out blue over green or yellow over gold. But living with color does not mean simply painting your walls one shade or another. Our homes are as much havens as habitats these days, and good palette choices can contribute to satisfying personal spaces. Here are our editors' tips for selecting colors.
Blue has classic appeal, and its range makes it perennially popular. It shows up in bedrooms and nurseries (blue is not just for boys anymore), and as a pale tone in living rooms. It can be bright or sedate, traditional or modern. Blue's richness almost guarantees a compelling interior, no matter the scale.
One of the most versatile colors, yellow creates the illusion of light in rooms with few windows. It also looks great in light-filled rooms, where natural light makes it appear paler. Yellow also pairs readily with colors found beside it in nature, such as tangerine, brown, fuchsia, lime green and persimmon. We see it used with success in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms.
When you're looking for a neutral color with visual impact, green is a great choice. It's always present outside and can be used for subtle punch inside, especially in living rooms, family rooms, and garden rooms. Mix greens just as you would in your garden, and then add complementary colors. Cool pastels, such as aqua, pink, and even white, work particularly well.
Red can be intense, dramatic, and eternally flattering -- a bold backdrop for strong accessories like silver and porcelain. Red's stimulating effect makes it a great choice in dining rooms. Charcoal grays, dark chocolates, and rich caramels have enough strength to balance vibrant reds, while deeper reds match up with muted gold and bronze tones. Red is also a versatile accent color for any season, and creates appealing warm-weather combinations with bolder shades such as moss green or periwinkle.
It's hard to take purple too seriously in anything other than a bedroom. There, its spiritual impact and intriguing presence strike a balance between pretty and pale. Although purple's regal connotations and potency demand restraint, it is a prime candidate for accent pieces and also works well in kids' rooms.
In varying degrees of intensity, it may show up in living rooms, master bedrooms, and girl's rooms. As an accessory, in rugs, pillows, ceramics, and art, a little pink goes a long way toward softening hard edges and bringing in pretty color. For a chic effect, try pink alongside deep-brown or black surfaces. Or mix it with earth tones and pastels, such as white, beige, camel, or honey-gold, for an understated look.
It makes other colors stand out, so it's a great accent color. White is common in modernist spaces and serene bedrooms. It's also a perfect backdrop for antiques and collections. White paneled walls and open beams on the ceiling draw the eye up and focus attention on hanging artwork. And white on white is especially gorgeous in a breakfast room, where the morning light is reflected from almost every surface.
Use it where you want to create a cocoon, like a bedroom, small living room, library, or office. Again, look to nature for inspiration with your interior schemes. Brown meshes easily with pumpkin, terra-cotta, and saffron tones, and may also be paired with deep red, green, or turquoise hues.