How to Choose Colors You'll Love

teal room
With an almost infinite roster of color options, it can be a challenge to winnow down a palette to the right hues. Learn how to develop your eye for color and pick out the best colors for your decorating with these designer tips.

Start Right

Start with a color you love. Even if it’s not a trend at the moment, it will always be on trend in a space that resonates with you.

-- Khristian A. Howell, textile designer and color expert

Color Relationships

Colors close together on the color wheel are analogous and will make a calm room. Colors that are farther apart are complementary and add drama.

-- David Bromstad, designer and HGTV star


Blend in strong colors. A bold color on the wall will feel jarring unless you consider the trim and ceiling color in your plans.

-- Patrice Cowan Bevans, designer

Nature's Colors

What’s more livable than the colors found right outside your back door? Look to earthy, natural colors -- blues, greens, beige, and taupe -- when choosing color for your rooms.

-- Sehra Han, designer

Mute Button

When choosing wall colors, find versions of your favorite colors that are muted with gray.

-- Erica Lugbill, designer

Best Paint

Choose the best paint you can afford. Good paint has better pigments and a more livable finish.

-- Courtney Price, designer

Color Redux

If you find a color that you love but you’re afraid it might be too dark, ask the person mixing the paint to do a 50 percent tint of the color.

-- Gail Wright, designer

Time and Place

Look at paint colors in the morning and night, and put them near your furniture.

-- Emily Henderson, stylist

Take It with You

When you shop for paint, take along an existing pillow, a piece of drapery fabric, or a photo of your space. You’ll make informed color decisions.

-- Alejandra Nernardez, designer

Establish a Flow

For a cohesive look, flow two or three of the same colors in each room. An accent wall in the family room is reflected in the master bedroom bedding, for example.

-- Diana Hathaway Timmons, designer

Color Personality

Warm colors like red, yellow, and orange have an energizing effect. Blue, green, and gray are calming.

-- David Bromstad, designer and HGTV star

Statement Color

Save strong wall colors for statement rooms that are smaller and visited less -- a library, guest room, or a powder room.

-- Lulu Dekwiatkowski, textile designer

Match It

You can take just about anything to the paint store and ask the associate to mix a paint that’s a perfect match using the store’s color reader.

-- Danny Seo, lifestyle expert

Rooms by Color

Choose colors based on the use of a room. Morning rooms can be brighter; rooms used at night can go dark.

-- Beth Kushnick, set decorator

Go Bold

Give yourself permission to use a bold color. You don’t have to love it everywhere -- one throw or pillow might be just enough.

-- Nate Berkus, designer

Propensity for Intensity

Play with intensity. I love monochromatic rooms that use a single hue in a variety of ways.

-- Sarah Richardson, designer

Trimmed Out

In the same way a bright shoe adds surprise and fun to a black outfit, an unexpected touch of trim along a curtain panel or in piping can add color in a way that’s easy to live with.

-- Anna Lobell, designer

From Room to Room

When rooms open to one another, avoid choosing radically different colors, or the space will look choppy and small.

-- Courtney Price

Tone It Down

Choose your favorite color, but watch that it’s not too bright.

-- Maria Killam, color expert

Color Everywhere

Your home is made up of more than walls -- ceilings, floors, stairs, and doors are also great places to have fun with paint.

-- Bob and Cortney Novogratz, designers

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