6 Expert Tips to Help You Get Over Your Fear of Color

Amping up the color doesn't have to mean turning your home into a funhouse. These looks are as vibrant and fresh as they are simple.


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By Lisa Batson Goldberg, Houzz

When clients say to me, “I just don’t like color,” what I most often find out after just a few minutes of poking and prodding is that, more accurately, they are unsure of how and when to use it in their home.

Clients often assume that they need to slap color on every wall in the house to make an impact, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although painting your walls in a vivid hue is a simple, inexpensive and highly effective way to alter the vibe of any space, some of the most striking approaches to incorporating color can be much subtler than taking a roller to your walls. You can use color in many awesome ways — both subtly and overtly — to give your home a fresh, vibrant look.

 

1. Begin With Things You Love

Finding a special piece that you really love is a great starting point when you’re looking to add color. If you love an item — if you feel energized, inspired and joyful when you see it — chances are that it’s the perfect jumping-off place for designing your space.

Buy a Moroccan basket you love, an abstract piece of art that makes you feel happy, a romantic French vase or a vibrant Indian tapestry. Whatever it is, go find that first piece that inspires you. It can set you on the path to discovering the ideal color palette for your space. Once you have that first piece, you can expand on the color scheme and overall design from there.


 Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard, original photo on Houzz

Picture-perfect color inspiration: This jewel-toned velvet chair makes a big, bold and fabulous statement. Paired with these vibrant yellow lamps, the color impact is even more amplified. The mix of warm neutral wall tones and rich, vibrant pieces adds even more depth to this sophisticated color scheme.​

 

 

2. Use Nature as Inspiration

Nature is always the perfect inspiration when it comes to design. Being outdoors makes us feel relaxed and at ease, which is often exactly how we want to feel in our home spaces. Does the ocean make you feel free and happy? Do you love the sweet smell of pale purple lilacs or fluffy pink peonies?

Maybe you’re drawn to a cool green, the color of the trees in the yard where you grew up? Whatever it is, these colors can be a smart place to start when designing a room you want to feel terrific in. Whether you use them for a jolt of color in a throw pillow or for a bold and vibrant feature wall, nature’s colors never fail to inspire.


The Home, original photo on Houzz

Picture-perfect color inspiration: Throw pillows printed with tropical palm leaves add a splash of color and an easy, breezy vibe to this sitting area. The bits of nature and color are more than enough to add visual interest and good vibes to this bright and lovely living space.

 

 

3. Realize That Mishmash Is the New Matchy-Matchy

In my experience, too many of us get caught up in the matchy-matchy trap when it comes to design. Maybe it’s the influence of family homes of times past, where grandma’s pillows matched the drapes and the couch and the china. But whatever the reason, one thing I love about this awesome age of design we’re in right now is that matching is no longer the only way. Although it’s true that in some spaces, matching can create a beautifully curated look, I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to adding color.

Try focusing more on individual pieces that make you feel something, and let the design evolve from there. Clashing doesn’t exist anymore and a mishmash is the way of the future, so if you want red and pink cushions, go for it. Want an emerald-green couch with a purple club chair and a sunshine-yellow lamp? Anything goes!

Just keep in mind that you may want to have something to tie them all together in the end. A rug, a piece of art or a few throw pillows can easily do the trick. So let’s all go bold, be authentic and think outside the matchy-matchy box.


Bronwyn Poole by Touch Interiors, original photo on Houzz

Picture-perfect color inspiration: This bright and airy bedroom illustrates the impact of savvy color and pattern mixing in fun and vibrant hues. Complementary patterns in the throw pillows and lamp base, as well as the abstract print and solid colors of the lampshade and bedding, help this bedroom design capture the mishmash vibe with playfulness and ease.

 

 

4. Make Fabrics Your Friend

Textiles like fabrics, wallcoverings and rugs are a few of the most effective design elements that can add color, make a statement and set the tone for any space. Vibrant throw pillows and simple patterned rugs are an easy, interchangeable way to add energy and visual interest.

Finding your own fabrics for custom throw pillows, chairs, headboards and other custom or refurbished pieces (or hiring a designer to help) is a wonderful way to create a space that captures your personal vision. Do you like nature patterns, geometrics, florals or solids? Once you’ve chosen the color palette and vibe, select two to four fabrics that give you various amounts of color.

Textiles can be as adventurous as you are. For those who are more daring, explore vibrant wallcovering options for a feature wall, or large-scale patterned fabrics for custom drapery (or to mix with throw pillows). These can add a whole new life and lushness to your space.


Wallpaperdirect, original photo on Houzz

Picture-perfect color inspiration: A raspberry velvet chair, chartreuse satin dining seats and a feature wall in House of Hackney wallpaper create both drama and whimsy in this otherwise traditional space.

 

 

5. Upcycle the Unlovable

You don’t need to break the bank to add much-needed color in your life. Upcycling old or unused pieces with a vibrant makeover is an easy way to create new colorful design pieces without having to invest too much.

Try recovering a drab chair (or chairs) in a fabric of your choice, or paint an old side table or lamp in a bold and contemporary hue. With upcycling, you can test your color tolerance without having to spend a lot.


Kim Pearson Pty Ltd, original photo on Houzz

Picture-perfect color inspiration: A vibrant vintage-inspired kitchen hutch lends interest to this soft and simple dining space. Adding bold and contemporary colors to pieces from any era brings character and charm to your room’s design.

 

 

6. Add Fresh Flowers

By far the quickest and easiest approach to incorporating color in any room is with cut flowers. Decorating your favorite home spaces with seasonal florals is a simple way to add a quick and powerful dash of color and to diversify your palette from week to week.

Your favorite flowers will add some serious good vibes to any room while enhancing your sense of peace and overall enjoyment of your space.

My home just doesn’t feel the same without the whimsical petals of some fresh, lush and vibrant flowers. It’s truly the easiest (and prettiest) way to bring life to any space.


The Art Apartment, original photo on Houzz

Picture-perfect color inspiration: Some of the best places to add a vase of fresh flowers include the entry, dining room table and kitchen counter.


Related: Plant Stands to Hold Fresh Flowers

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