How to Select the Right Color Palette in Design

Are you starting an interior design project and deciding on a color scheme? Whether you are designing your own living space, office or other commercial building, selecting the right colors is such an important step. With so many different shades of the same color and countless combinations between primary, secondary and tertiary colors to choose from, picking out the right scheme can sometimes feel overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be! In this blog post, I will discuss several essential tips that will help simplify your process while helping you create visual interest for any room in your space.

House Design, Color Sample for the Furniture

What is Color Theory?

Color theory is a fascinating subject that explores the principles behind color and their interaction with each other. It encompasses everything from the color wheel to the emotional impact different colors can have on an individual. Colors can inspire us, calm us, and even affect our moods. Aspects such as hue, saturation, and brightness come into play when understanding color and how it can be used in art, design, and advertising. By applying these principles, you can create compelling and impactful designs that attract attention.

Young Women Choosing the Right Color

Color Theory Basics for Interior Design

  • The Color Wheel: The color wheel is a tool used by designers to identify and arrange colors. It is made up of 12 different colors that are placed in a circle. Red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors, while green, orange, and purple are the secondary colors. The combination of primary and secondary colors results in the formation of tertiary colors.
  • Color Harmony: The way colors are mixed in a place is referred to as color harmony. Color harmony is classified into four types: monochromatic, complementary, analogous, and triadic. Different tones of the same hue are used in monochromatic color palettes. When designing with color, colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel create a complementary color scheme, while colors that are placed side by side create an analogous color scheme. While triadic color schemes combine three hues that are equidistant on the color wheel.
Color Harmony

  • Mood & Emotion: Different hues can invoke a variety of moods and feelings. Warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow, for example, may produce a cozy and welcoming ambiance, whilst cool colors such as blue and green can create a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere. Bright colors may evoke feelings of optimism and enthusiasm, whilst muted hues can evoke feelings of sophistication.
  • Lighting: Lighting has a significant impact on how colors appear in a space. Colors seem brighter and more colorful in natural light, but artificial light may produce a warmer or colder environment. It's crucial to think about the room's lighting while deciding on a color scheme.
  • Texture: Texture may also influence how colors are perceived. Rough textures may give off a more natural and organic vibe, whilst smooth textures can give off a more sleek and sophisticated feel. Various textures may also influence how colors reflect light, altering their appearance under various lighting conditions.

Tips for Using Color Theory to Choose a Color Palette in Design

  • Select any color you like.
  • Once you have selected a color, use the color wheel to find a complementary color. Interior designers often select colors based on the patterns or objects already in the room. For example, if there's a dominant red or pink pattern, they may choose complementary colors to match it.
  • A popular technique for creating a balanced space is to use the "dark to light" strategy vertically. This involves using darker colors for the flooring, medium tones for the walls, and lighter tones for the ceiling. This method can make the space feel larger.
  • Don't be afraid to use neutrals like gray. They work well with a variety of interior design styles and can be paired with contrasting bright colors.
Interior Designer Working with Choosing the Right Color

  • The "rule of 60-30-10" is a formula used by many interior designers. The space is broken down into three distinct areas, with the majority of the room covered in the main color, a smaller portion featuring the second color used for furniture, and the remaining area being decorated with the accent color. This ratio keeps the space balanced and harmonious.
  • Warm and cool tones can work well together. Pairing neutral grays with warm honey tones, for example, can create a feeling of harmony and balance.
  • Monochromatic looks can be especially effective in small spaces. Consider using a single color and incorporating its shades to paint a small bathroom or study.
Color Guide Samples

Ultimately, selecting the right color palette in design can be tricky. It’s important to create a unified look while also ensuring that there’s enough contrast to make your design stand out and attract attention. Keep it simple and utilize basic guidelines to find the sweet spot between functionality, style, personality, and theme when selecting a color palette for your designs.

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