If you’re someone who’s bookmarked and pinned photos of maximalist rooms splattered with colors, patterns, textures, and even varying designs from floor to ceiling, it can be easy to confuse this type of aesthetic as without effort. But experts will say otherwise, and that can be especially true when it comes to choosing your shades. While the beauty of eclectic interior styles may be that it seems to defy the rules, there are some key interior design color rules to learn before drastically changing your own space.
Yes, there’s a method to a bold color room craze, and that can be true whether you’re starting small (adding accents like artwork, textiles, and creative storage solutions) or you’d go broke (painting the whole room a dramatic shadow). Interior designers will tell you this is especially true because color can have such a personal and emotional effect on you. You want the choices you make to be not only ones you can live with, but ones that genuinely bring you joy (or whatever mood you’re looking to create – but we’ll talk about that later).
Luckily, even if you’re not collaborating with an expert for a color overhaul in your home, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow that will make the engagement much easier – and make the overall effect look like you. Ahead, find out what some designers think you need to know before opening that tub of fuchsia paint or spending a small fortune on rugs and wall decor that ultimately don’t go well together. With a few of these color lessons applied to your home, you can finally pull off that “accidentally chic” maximalist look that’s actually anything but accidental.
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Look for inspiration
Your color inspiration can come from anywhere: a travel memory, a family heirloom, a child’s drawing. Nothing? Really. But fear not if you haven’t found your design muse yet. According to Mel Bean of Interiors Mel Bean, it can be as simple as looking at photos on your phone. “Create an album on your phone where you save photos of any color combination that speaks to you, regardless of the content,” she told TZR. “Some recent combinations I’ve recorded are the purple fading to green found in an artichoke; the cream, caramel, black, and ice blue colors of a piercing blue-eyed jaguar; and the textured teal, red, lavender, and aqua d a graffiti wall we saw on a trip to Athens.
Another common source of inspiration could be a piece of furniture or an accessory that you already own. “More often than not, a client has something special for them, like a vintage rug, an antique, or a piece of art that helps kick-start their color story,” says Georgia Zikas of Georgia Zikas Design. If it’s art you shoot, Melanie Thomas of Melanie Thomas Design has some tips for keeping the space harmonious. “Find your favorite piece that suits the space and start picking colors for the art (no more than three or four for safety right now),” she explains. “For a bold choice and extra contrast, choose the least used color in the room to paint your walls. If the artwork is particularly bright, make a quieter stop or two of the art to paint your walls .
Choose your mood
“Color, used properly, can be used to create any atmosphere you desire,” says Bean. “Understanding the impact a specific color palette will create is largely intuitive. A room wrapped entirely in blush will create a soft mood, but that can be changed by what is added to it. The deep navy blue, with pops of coral and red can look sophisticated and dramatic, but choosing lavender, aquamarine and black drastically changes the same mood.
That popular green decorating trend? According to Aimee Wertepny of Project. Interiors, it’s a great option for anyone looking to create a quiet, grounded space. “As a reflection of nature, green can literally soothe the soul,” she explains. As for something more moody, Wertepny loves playing with black in a room, even if it just sets off a nook. “We’re all about high contrast design and high drama, and black is a surefire way to set the mood if done right.”
And if your bedroom is the place you’re sprucing up with color, Grace Brackman, interior designer at Design by Maggie Griffin, says you can never really go wrong with blue — a hue she says creates a soothing effect. And who couldn’t use a little more in their sleep sanctuary?
Try complementary combos
In the traditional sense, complementary colors are those that are opposite to each other on the color wheel. For example: yellow and purple, blue and orange, and red and green. It’s one way to envision combinations for your bright room’s palette, but experts also say there are other ways to choose duos (or trios, etc.) that will complement each other. Elisa Baran from Elisa Baran, LLC love the idea of playing with primaries – but with a twist. “Classic primary colors (red, blue, and green), but in less vibrant pigments, are a great way to add depth, uniqueness, and fun to your space,” she explains. “Think ruby red, royal blue and forest green. Adding pops of these colors through upholstered chairs or pillows is sure to grab the attention of your guests.
Andi Morse, Founder and Lead Designer of Morse design, adds that “complementary” could also simply mean colors that work with the rest of your home. “If you have a gray house, choose colors with gray,” she tells TZR. “For example, a lot of blues have a gray tint. Blue and gray go well together.
Or go for a major contrast
Of course, part of the fun of creating a maximalist effect is deliberately choosing colors that are more shocking. Thomas suggests you can go this route by pairing bright, punchy colors with more muted, muddy colors. “Examples are olive with yellow highlighter, lilac with burgundy, mustard with chartreuse, chocolate brown with sky blue,” she shares. “The muddy color will soften the lighter color and the lighter color will enliven the darker color and make your space feel more layered.”
Start with a small space
While it may seem daunting to try dramatic color in a small space, interior designers like Zikas actually recommend these areas of the home as a starting point. Think entryways, kitchens, vanities and bathrooms, where you can more easily create an intimate and immersive environment through color and pattern. “I love decorating an entryway and like to use bright colors or interesting wallpapers or textures,” she suggests. “The depth of color creates a vortex that can ‘suck’ you into space, inviting you, almost to say, ‘Come deeper, I have more to show you. “”
As for some specific recommendations, Thomas tells TZR that she has a few current favorite colors for such spaces. “Lean into smallness and be bold with terracotta, grayish blue, rich buttery olive green or vermilion,” says the interior expert.
Commit to a color (bold)
Go beyond an accent wall and commit to floor-to-ceiling color impact. Although it sounds simple enough, there’s actually a lot to consider here. For one thing, the amount of natural light you have in the room can help you determine the depth of a blind to use. And experts say it’s extremely important to sample before you start, because a can of paint you buy online can look very different in your home. “Paint a swatch on your wall and observe the color at different times of the day,” suggests Summer Jensen of Falcon & Co.. “With the lights on and off, in the shade and in the sun.”
Brackman’s favorite use of this all-consuming color method is in a study, or anywhere you want to feel “moody and beautiful.” In these cases, she opts for a dark green or navy blue to really pack some punch. You can leave the room mostly monochromatic or break up the color with plants and other accents for a bit more variety and balance.
Experiment with unexpected places
Why stick only to walls when painting? “Don’t forget to add color to your cabinets,” says Brackman. “Ditch the white cabinetry and go for a more punchy color. In the kitchen, consider using a taupe or sage green. This will help keep you neutral but will bring more interest to your space.
Another unexpected place to add color to a room? Paint the ceiling! According to the interior expert, this can greatly enhance a space.
Don’t forget the finishes
Matte, satin, semi-gloss, the sheen (or lack thereof) of your paintwork can have more of an impact than you think because it can completely change the reading of a certain color. “When you use bold colors, the finish helps the paint adapt to the space,” says Nina Grauer, Dekay and Tate. “For example, in the dining room of one of our clients, the color palette includes black, white, mahogany and gold. The open floor plan leads into the living room, where a little more color is in play: lots of greens, oranges, rust tones, black and ivory, which help bring the rooms into a more spacious space. consistent. The two bright colors we went with [in the living room] were a rusty orange with a Venetian finish and an olive green with a semi-gloss finish for the shelves. If a lacquer/gloss finish were to be used in the dining room, the color would overwhelm the space. If the same Venetian finish were to be used on the living room shelves, the space wouldn’t look as neat as it could.