How to Choose a Color Palette for Your Home

When decorating your home, there’s a huge range of factors to consider. Space, light, flow, and function are all important features of a space, and interior design should always balance these factors. But color is one of the most important, and often the most confusing, aspects of interior design. The use of color has the power to transform the look and feel of a room, or of a whole home. Here’s how to choose a color palette for your home.

Why Choose a Color Palette?

If you have an eclectic style, and your home is full of a collection of different things you love, you may wonder whether you even need a color palette at all. After all, why limit your choices? But there are many reasons why interior designers always work with color palettes, and why you should as well:

  • Creates a feeling of unity. When a room or a home uses a defined color palette, it creates a feeling of unity and cohesion. The coordinated use of color visually unifies spaces, making them balanced and harmonious.
  • Affects the mood and “feel” of a space. Whether you want your interior design to feel calm and soothing, or warm and vibrant, color has powerful psychological and even physiological effects that enhance the feel of a space.
  • Defines different spaces in the home. In modern Austin interior design, color is a fantastic tool to help define different spaces in an open-plan layout. Rather than separating different areas with walls, you can simply use color to create visual definition and distinction between different areas.

Choosing a color palette at the beginning of the interior design process helps to clarify and structure all the rest of your design choices. It helps to ensure that your final design will be balanced and harmonious, reflecting deliberate choices, and creating the look and feel you want to live with every day.

How to Use a Color Wheel

When you are considering your color choices, it’s always best to begin by referring to a color wheel. A color wheel is a visual reference that lets you identify a specific color, and then understand how it relates to other colors in the visual spectrum. For example:

  • Warm vs. cool. Half of the color wheel has colors that are “warm” (colors with a yellow or golden undertone), and the other half has colors that are “cool” (colors with a blue or violet undertone). Generally speaking, warm colors are exciting, and cool colors are calming. Many people choose cool colors for private areas of the house, like the bedroom and bathroom, while they prefer warm colors for shared spaces like the kitchen and living room.
  • Matching vs. contrasting. If you choose a color on the color wheel, the colors on each side of it are “matching” colors: they go together harmoniously and are visually appealing next to each other. If you choose a color that is directly opposite of that color on the wheel, it is a contrasting color, often called a “complementary” color. Complementary colors create visual emphasis: the difference between them makes them stand out.
  • Tones, tints, and shades. If you choose a single color as a starting point, that color can be toned, tinted, or shaded for different effects. “Tinting” a color means adding white to it, to create a pastel version of that color. “Shading” a color means adding black to it, to darken the color. “Toning” a color means adding gray to it, to reduce the intensity of the color.

When possible, use a physical color wheel. You can pick one up at a local paint store, home center, or art supply store. Screens and monitors vary widely in their representation of color, so they aren’t a good way to judge true colors or know how a color will interact with natural light.

Different Types of Color Palettes for Interior Design

The use of a color wheel will help you choose the colors you want to use, and how those colors go together. This is how you define your color palette and the range of colors you will use. Here are some of the most common color palettes used in home interiors:

  • Monochromatic color scheme interior design. A monochromatic color palette in interior design is what it sounds like: building your design around the use of a single color. Using a single color for all the decor and spaces in a home can be a bold, striking choice, making a strong design statement. Remember that a monochromatic color palette doesn’t necessarily mean you use the same hue in every space in a home. You can use tints, tones, or shades to soften or emphasize a single-color palette.
  • Analogous color scheme interior design. An analogous color scheme uses three consecutive colors on the color wheel: your base color, and then the colors on either side of it. An analogous color scheme ensures that all your colors “match” and go together visually while giving you a broader range of hues to choose from.
  • Complementary color scheme interior design. A complementary color scheme interior design uses two colors that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel. This color contrast creates visual emphasis, making your colors “pop”.

There is a huge range of possible color palettes and endless color possibilities within each one. By limiting your choices to a few key hues and shades, you create a framework for a more cohesive design.

Don’t Forget Your Neutrals

One of the most important and often-overlooked aspects of an interior design color palette is the smart use of neutrals. The “neutral” colors are black, white, and gray. They are called neutral because they match every other color on the wheel. Remember that neutral colors can also be warm or cool, so for the best match, use the same undertone in your neutrals as in your color palette.

Smart use of neutral colors helps your primary color palette be more bold or more understated, creating a framework in which your colors shine. Choosing great neutral colors is just as important as choosing your dominant palette. Choosing a color palette for your home can be as simple as looking at a color wheel, identifying the basic hue you want, and then finding the other colors and shades that work well with the base hue.

That said, using that color palette to create a balanced, appealing, unique style for your whole home can be more challenging. A great interior designer in Austin can not only help you choose a color palette but then use those colors to design a home you will love. Contact J.Fisher for expert guidance on how color can shape your life.


J.Fisher Interiors’ studio is located in east Austin. To schedule your consultation appointment, please fill out the contact form or call us at 512.954.0904. We would love to hear from you!

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