Many homeowners shy away from adding color to their homes due to fear of making a design mistake or costly investment that won't last the test of time. However, incorporating color into your home can greatly enhance its visual appeal, atmosphere and human experience. If you're feeling apprehensive about taking the plunge into a more colorful space, or you're ready to take the risk but not sure where to start, here are a few tips to help you get started.
Start by introducing small colorful accents throughout your home. These accents can be easily swapped out if you change your mind or want to experiment with different colors.
One of my favorite ways to do this is with coffee table books. If you have some already, take off the dust cover to see what the hard binding color is. If that works for you, keep them off for a while, or forever! It's an easy way to add color. If you don't find the color you need, then it's time for a vintage hunt. You can look at thrift stores, Goodwill, Etsy and even on FB Marketplace to find some gorgeous and inexpensive books. Make sure to ask about the hardback color underneath. That's where you'll find a big swath of color and sometimes with interesting title text too.
DIY Tip: Head to your closest office or art supply store and just buy some bright colored construction paper. Cut it to size to cover whatever large books you already have. Do lots of them so you can really see the impact in a couple areas of your home. If you're creative and have some graphic design skills, just design your own dust cover that fits the books you have and just print them out!
Pillows are also an easy way to start. There are great color options at reasonable prices at HomeGoods, if you have one near you. Or, if you have pillows that you use already, just buy new covers. Etsy has lots of shops that sell standard pillow cover sizes, but are also usually willing to do something custom.
Nature is an excellent source of color inspiration. Look at the colors found in landscapes, flowers, or seascapes. Are you someone who thinks colors, especially bright colors, aren't natural? Did you know that every single pigment used to create paint, actually comes from the earth!
Yes, most of our vernacular around nature based colors considers muted tones or neutrals to be most natural. But whatever your definition, look at the landscape around where you live and try to incorporate those colors. Your local environment can be great inspiration.
Even just a vase of flowers, or blooming branches from your yard, or just a colorful pot, can be good utilitarian design tools to experiment with. Remember, all color is natural. And it's the one part of nature that won't bite!
I recommend people reflect on their "happy place". Is it the ocean, the mountains, a store or certain boo? Is there a specific color that impacts you most about that place or thing? Ponder what it is about your happy place that generates such warm feelings. Use that as a spark for inspiration.
I used to call Anthropologie my happy place because I always found so much inspiration there! If I break down what it is about the place that has such impact on me, I think it's the diversity.
They have objects that are vintage, natural, modern and more, all in one space. It feels lived in and not overly curated (although I know it is!). The eclectic nature of it though makes me feel that all the various styles I love, can live happily together. I feel like their spaces are giving me permission. I always hate leaving when I'm there, whether I've purchased something or not. That's how I know it's my happy place.
As example, I have an older version of this very rug in my living room. The variety of color gives me the emotional permission to add almost any color to my space. I find that too much of one color can feel off balance. The more diversity the better!
Embrace the Power of Paint
Ok, now this is my default zone! So many things to paint! For the beginners though, here are some thoughts.
Painting a room or just one wall is one of the most cost-effective and transformative ways to add color to your home. If you're unsure about which color to choose, start by painting a small accent wall or a less visible area, such as a hallway or a bathroom. This allows you to test the color in your space without committing to a larger area. And if you hate it, you can paint over it!
Also don't hesitate to paint something weird. Just get enough of it in your space to make you uncomfortable. If you're at Goodwill anyway grabbing an ugly painting, grab a big ugly glass vase or even a lamp, and paint that! Put it in the area of the room you're considering color and live with it, then move them around, put it in a new locations. You're basically trying it on, see how you feel.
Don't get too hung up on the exact shade or value of a color. It's more about the family of colors you're considering. Just start somewhere. You can always re-gift it to Goodwill if you hate it.
If you're still unsure about where to start and want guidance on color choices, it's beneficial to consult with a professional. An interior designer or stylist can provide expert advice on color palettes, textures, and how to create a cohesive look. I've gutted and remodeled many homes and in that process, redecorated over and over. I have the experience and I am happy to help. The initial consult is free! You can book time with me here.
MASTER TIP: When you're out shopping for carpet or paint swatches, understand that paint will appear lighter than the swatch and carpet will look darker. This all has to do with lighting. When you're in a carpet or paint store, look at the swatches in the direction of it's application. Hold paint swatches vertical vs. laying flat and the reverse for carpet. Ideally look at ALL swatches in your home and on the wall or floor with the actual lighting. Taking time to do this will always pay off.
Adding color to your home can be an exciting and rewarding experience. I obviously wouldn't be in this business if I didn't think so. But I understand not everyone thinks about it like I do. So by starting with small experiments, embracing paint, drawing inspiration from nature, or seeking professional advice, you can overcome your fears and create a space that reflects your personality and style.