No matter how you want to feel in your home -- comfortable or creative, serene or energized, private or ready to share -- color is the way to achieve it. Here's how to decorate with colors in the right tone for the mood you want to foster. Get your perfect color matches by selecting the room you're painting and the mood you want to create.

By Sarah Egge
Bedroom 3

To create a room that makes you feel full of energy, pick colors that are true, pure versions of themselves. Typically, these primary hues reside in the middle in a fan deck of paint colors, not at the pale tip or the heavy bottom of the chip. They are hues that are bright, clear, and crisp. The cherry red, steel gray, and tangerine orange in this bedroom are such colors. They don't have shades (or "undertones") of blue, brown, or yellow, which alter the appearance of the color. For example, a red tinged with blue appears as fuchsia and red tinted with brown becomes terra-cotta. The wide band on this duvet is the vivid, unadulterated red of a stop sign, which, paired with other strong partners, gives the room verve.

Moods to Try:

Color Mood: Quiet and Tranquil

Bathroom decorating

A serene, peaceful feeling in a home is fostered by colors that are muted using large doses of white and gray. These undertones temper a color and reduce its intensity to a pale, pastel version. Take blue, for instance, by choosing a grayish hue with plenty of white in it, you get a watery aqua popular in spas and resorts. In this bathroom, aqua rains down from the ceiling, instilling the space with tranquility. Do the same with green and you get an appealing mint shade that calmly recedes. Yellow becomes buttery and smooth. These colors are easy-to-live-with backgrounds that you can use throughout your home.

Moods to Try:

Color Mood: Cozy and Warm

brown living room

There's no secret about the colors that make a home feel cozy and warm. They are the firelit shades of red, orange, and gold. These deep, resonant hues are richer than their primary, energetic versions because they are influenced by brown. A brown undertone turns yellow into amber and red into russet. It cozies up other hues as well, such as teal, eggplant, and aspen green. Wrapping a room in these hues ensures that even an ample, light-filled space takes on an autumn feel. This living room has large windows, French doors, plenty of bright white woodwork and shutters, yet it still feels toasty thanks to a crimson velvet sofa and sable-brown walls and ceiling.

Moods to Try:

Color Mood: Creative and Provoking

yellow couch

The surest way to boost your creativity is to choose quirky colors. Simply put: Be bold with your hues. Try bucking the prescribed conventions of your home's architecture. Fill a sleek condo with classics like navy and Kelly green. Or awaken a traditional home with bright, acidic colors. This living room in a colonial home has unexpected charisma with a chartreuse sofa and pink and purple accents. Another way to be creative with color is to model strong pairings in art, nature, or global influences. Borrow from a landscape painting's hues for a pastoral living room scheme, or use the downy brown center and gold petals of a black-eyed Susan to kick off a kitchen scheme. Or, let Chinese pottery guide you to a cobalt and porcelain white dining room scheme.

Moods to Try:

Be Confident in Your Color Choices

Ready to Choose Your Paint Colors?

You likely start with a hue in mind. The next step is to pinpoint the exact shade using paint swatches and samples. Read more about using paint swatches here.

Sometimes visualizing what a color can look like in a room can be a challenge. Use My Color Finder to see what a color will look like in your room before you paint. Click here to get started.


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