How to Pick a Color Scheme

Having trouble picking the perfect color scheme for your next decorating project? Check out these inspirational ideas that will help you choose the ideal hues.

  • view all thumbnails
overall of dining
Take Colors from a Rug

    A rug is the foundation for a room. Draw from colors featured in a pattern rug to create a cohesive look.

    Editor's Tip: To add more dimension to your color scheme, incorporate different textures such as the colored wicker chairs in this dining room.

Be Inspired by Art

    Art adds personality to a room. Using it as a foundation creates a great color scheme as seen in this punchy living room.

    Editor's Tip: If choosing a wall color from your artwork, go one or two shades lighter to ensure the art will pop.

Use Your Favorite Color

    You are sure to love your room if you choose your favorite color to be the base of the scheme as in this bold lime kitchen.

    Editor's Tip: Balance bold hues with white, off-white, or one harmonizing shade through the accents and secondary elements.

Stick with a Classic Combo

    Blue and yellow, green and blue, red and brown -- you can't go wrong when you stick to classic combos like this country French inspired bedroom.

    Editor's Tip: To jazz up a classic combo accessorize with punchy accents.

Start with Window Treatments

    Use window treatment fabric to set a color scheme in your room. Draw from the fabric's main hues, then distribute those hues throughout the room with pieces of furniture and accessories.

    Editor's Tip: Try to incorporate similar colors through your furniture. For example, the blue that is in the sofa is also featured in the pillow on the green armchair.

Use Hues of a Collectible

    Be inspired by colors featured in your collection, such as this set of aqua pottery that complements the beach theme throughout the home.

    Editor's Tip: Display your collection in a spot everyone will see, such as in an open bookcase or on a floating shelf.

Draw from a Pillow

    Pick shades from a color-filled pillow just like this one. To make the pillow the feature piece in the room, choose a light tone for the wall color, such as soft blue or pink in this case.

    Editor's Tip: Relying on color combos featured in window treatments, pillows, or upholstered furniture is a sure bet for a good scheme because the combinations were created by design professionals.

Be Inspired by a Theme

    Decorating themes often incorporate a color theme such as this beach-inspired living room, which features classic blue and white.

    Editor's Tip: To give a theme a modern twist, brighten up the hues, such as swapping the light blue for a bold aqua in this case.

Use an Outfit

    Love the look of your favorite outfit? Translate it into a room. Start with the color scheme, then accessorize with items that radiate the style of the look as seen in this preppy room.

    Editor's Tip: Bring pieces of the outfit with you as you shop for the accessories in the room. You never know what you might find; for example, the houndstooth pillow in this living room matches the houndstooth coat.

Draw from an Accessory

    Charming vases, frames, and other accessories offer inspiration in their lively hues -- such as this sunny vase.

    Editor's Tip: Be sure your accessories are showcased prominently in the room to support the scheme.

Use Your Favorite Colors

    Start with your favorite color or colors. Turn these colors into a color scheme you'll love by sprinkling them throughout the room. In this room, fiery oranges, soft blues, and classic neutrals create a magnificent scheme.

    Editor's Tip: Find accessories, such as an accent pillow, lampshade, or throw, that feature the dominate colors. Sprinkle these pieces throughout the room to make the scheme feel cohesive.

Set the Atmosphere

    Serene, cozy, vibrant ... Pick hues based on the way you want to feel when you walk into the room. For example, the relaxing off-white and light blue tones used in this elegant bedroom present a calming atmosphere.

    Editor's Tip: Make a list of the words you want associated with this room, then pair those words with colors that come to mind to create the perfect scheme.

Base It on a Piece of Furniture

    When starting fresh in a room, choose a piece of furniture you want to center the room around. This living room's color palette was derived from the floral-pattern chair.

    Editor's Tip: If your feature piece of furniture is bold, such as this armchair, keep the rest of the furniture in the room neutral. Then accessorize with pops of color.

Be Inspired by Wallpaper

    As wallpaper continues to make its comeback, consider it as the foundation of your color scheme. The elegant green pattern on the wallpaper in this room draws in the other green tones in the fabrics.

    Editor's Tip: If your wallpaper is very bold, use it to dress up one wall, then paint the other walls in a coordinating color.

Popular Slideshows
Color creates moods -- think of a serene aqua bath...

Use color to give your living room personality and...

When Better Homes and Gardens made over this New Y...

Find your decorating personality and receive FREE ideas tailored to your style! Take our quiz now!

Top Brands

Related Links
Color creates moods -- think of a serene aqua bath...

Use color to give your living room personality and...

When Better Homes and Gardens made over this New Y...

PAINTING SECRETS: Don't try to paint around it, ju...

Share Your Thoughts