20 Ways to Refresh with Color

Color creates moods -- think of a serene aqua bathroom, a cheery yellow breakfast nook, or a kid's room done in energetic primary hues. The optimistic colors found in this assortment of rooms are guaranteed to brighten your mood!

It's All in the Accessories

Wouldn't this colorful nook be a happy spot from which to launch your day? Looking closely, the space is really neutral, with white and beige furniture and walls that just whisper of yellow. The vignette's outgoing personality stems from the fresh blue, red, pink, and green accents strewn across the surfaces.


Imagine this room with exactly the same furniture and accessories -- except the bed frame is stained brown or painted white. Sure, the bedding is still chic and there's the stylish striped bench, but the space would have no oomph, no attitude. Sometimes all a room needs is one bold stroke of color for it to morph from dreary to dramatic.

All Mixed Up

Aqua, orange, lime, and white -- only the most fearless decorator would attempt that scheme. But some color combos look way better than they sound -- if applied with a deft touch. Here, all the colors are united in the terrific rug, and the white furniture and simple window shades give the eyes a place to rest.

Accessorize the Bath

Many people don't think of decorating their bathroom beyond a few guest towels. This oversight can result in a white-tile cell with a clinical feel. This modest little room is transformed with a splash of colorful wallpaper, a casual mix of textiles, and a whimsical mirror.

Fresh and Crisp

The sharp, classic combo of blue and white is a perennial crowd-pleaser. The addition of lemon yellow with twists of lively green gives this charming nook a fresh and modern point of view. The daring mix of color and pattern is grounded by soft walls, a wood floor, and clean white accents.

Draw the Eye

Painting one wall an eye-catching color is a fast and effective way to create a focal point. Here, the sweet fuchsia color could have turned sickly if applied to the whole room. By limiting the violet tint to one wall and contrasting it with the complementary yellow headboard, the bed takes center stage.

Color Harmony

This dining room is designed with an analogous color scheme, which uses colors that are next to each other on the color wheel -- in this case, green, yellow-green, and yellow. Analogous schemes are harmonious and very easy to work with; just be sure to add a little contrast, such as black furniture and orange flowers.

Soft Spoken

Fresh color doesn't always mean bright color. This living room evokes a warm and welcoming mood with plush, familiar furniture and a subtle -- and surprisingly sophisticated -- palette of grayed pastels. The geometry of the classic white paneling accentuates the curvy shapes and hushed colors of the furnishings.

Fresh Take

Red, white, blue, and pink? Sometimes the reward is worth the risk! Avoid creating pleasant but predictable rooms by taking a chance on a wild-card color now and again. Here, red and pink mingle in the accent pillows, and the blue trellis-pattern wallpaper makes an interesting backdrop for the pink headboard.

Warm and Cool Mix

Creamy yellow is paired with steely blue in this cozy yet sophisticated kitchen. Notice the pleasing rhythm that's created as the eye moves between the yellow upper cabinets and the island. The kitchen would be far less fetching if the cabinetry were uniform in color.

Nature's Palette

This nearly neutral room stays warm year-round with touches of sunny yellow, watery blue, and grass green. The sedate background is a smart long-term choice since the room can be updated in a snap with just a change in accessories.

Refreshing Mint

It's common to decorate breakfast nooks in warm, spirited colors but here's a wonderful exception to the rule. A cool green banquette and recessed shelving offers a soothing backdrop, perfect for those of us who prefer to ease into the day. Abundant natural light and raspberry red accents add the perfect spark of warmth.

Tweaking Tradition

Don't limit vibrant color to casual spaces. What's more formal than a bergere chair upholstered in damask? Here, the fabric's raspberry hue whips these chairs out of the 18th century with a style that's fresh and modern. Other traditional forms such as the occasional chairs and side table are reinterpreted in surprising materials and patterns.

Bright and Crisp

Blue with green and white is always a refreshing combo. This inviting nook shakes up the classic colorway with yellow-tinted green, creamy off-white, and powdery blue. Updating time-tested color schemes is a surefire way to create coordinated rooms that still feel fresh and personal.

Accessorize with Color

So you love pink (or purple or orange or red) but you're scared to paint the walls your favorite hue or invest in a boldly colored $2,000 sofa. Don't worry; hot color is actually more powerful against a subtle ground. Just choose a few colorful accessories and place them throughout the room in a pattern that's pleasing to the eye. Here, the focal-point floral pillow creates a visual triangle with the lampshade and vase on the mantel.

High Contrast

A surefire way to make any color pop is to showcase it against black and white. There's only one color in this kitchen -- blue -- and there isn't much of it, but boy, does it make a statement! The end wall is the key to this chic space: The wallpaper combines blue and white, with touches of beige found on the floor, while the bench ties in the black cabinets.

Perfect Pairings

Some colors evoke strong associations: Yellow is cheerful, blue is soothing, and pink is feminine. If you want a color to play against type, pair it with a partner of different attributes. While this pink room isn't exactly macho, the rich brown adds a layer of sophistication and keeps it from looking juvenile.

Add Some Spice

Adhere too strictly to a color scheme and your room runs the risk of looking as flat as a model home. This trendy work space was inspired by the terrific modern rug and its blue and green color combo, which is repeated throughout the room. But the eye immediately lands on the smattering of orange accessories that punctuate the space, adding depth and contrast.

Take the Edge Off

Why are stainless steel and ceramic tile such popular materials for a room that we want to be cozy and inviting? In this homey kitchen, soft celadon cabinets offer cottage appeal while the salvaged wood island exudes a warm patina. A display of vintage china and a nubby rug contribute to the kitchen's charm.

Rise and Shine

Many people want a bedroom that's pretty and light. Ideally, it will invigorate you when you wake yet soothe you before you sleep. Here, warm yellow walls glow with the morning sun. But as night falls, the yellow veers toward gold, and the cool purples and greens calm the senses.

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