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John O'Hagan, Southern Living

Pick a Palette

Even a notebook of pages from your favorite decorating magazines can leave you wondering where to begin on your next room makeover.

Try this idea: Choose a favorite painting or print that will become the focal point of the room. Then pull your color cues for other items from that piece. Yes, it can be that simple. Here’s how.


Yellow living room
Courtesy of Southern Living

Color Quest

When you pick a paint color for the walls, be sure that the shade allows the artwork to stand out -- not blend in. In this room, the landscape is made up of green and blue tones with accents of red and yellow. Here, the warm yellow hue on the walls provides an ideal contrast to the oversize painting.


living room with orange couch and coordinating pillows
Courtesy of Southern Living

Matching Mistake

Use matching, but not identical, fabric on furniture. Make decisions simply by using only the hues from your starring fabric for the rest of the upholstery.

Here, the sofa wears a deep coral and the armchair a light cream. A large check in the same tones adds understated pattern to the sofa.


Chair and ottoman in coral toile
Courtesy of Southern Living

Unified Style

Create a unified look using one primary fabric. In this room, the coral-and-cream toile de jouey makes up the cushions on a French armchair and stool as well as window treatments and pillows. A luxurious coordinating tassel trim adorns the pillows and dresses up the simple panels.

TIP: Keep accent fabrics in the same color palette as your base fabric.


brown velvet armchair in a living room
Courtesy of Southern Living

Furniture Focus

Select smart pieces. Don't get carried away by matching all your furniture to your artwork however. A chocolate velvet library chair offers a neutral accent. Its details, such as exposed wood arms and legs as well as a tufted back, give the room even more character.

TIP: An accent fabric can really complete a room. However, avoid the matching syndrome. Your furniture pieces should coordinate -- but not look as if they came in a set.


close up of pillow details
Courtesy of Southern Living

Defining Details

From lampshades to decorative trim and pillows, details count. Use your creativity when it comes to embellishing pillows.

Here, pleated French-blue ribbon makes a cost-effective accent on the animal print pillow. And two inexpensive fringes are sewn together to create a lush looking trim on the red botanical pillows. The combination unites all the colors in the room.


a wooden hutch in a kitchen
Courtesy of Southern Living

Layers of Accents

Add rich-toned furniture for another layer of subtle color. Let a favorite collection, here ceramic roosters, inspire creative displays as shown on this hutch.

-- Adapted from Southern Living Easy Decorating

More Color Inspiration
Color 101
Our Favorite Color Combos
Update With Paint

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