How to Select Colors for Your Home

Color-Theory-Decorating-DiCorcia-Interior-DesignThe #1 question I am asked as an interior designer is “How do you select colors for a room?”. The query can be daunting for many people, there are so many colors to choose from – primary, secondary, tertiary – how do you know what combination  of complementary, split complementary, monochromatic and related color schemes will work in the room?! When selecting color-ways for a client’s room, these are the steps I follow:


Colorful-Closet-Via-DiCorcia-DesignI start in their closet. Whatever colors you wear the most are those that you look best in and feel most comfortable . For example, in my closet you’ll find a lot of navy, pink and green. Is there black in there too? Of course, but navy dominates because when forced to choose between the two colors I feel it looks less harsh against my hair color and skin tone. If you go into Billy’s closet you’ll find the majority of his cloths are blue, green and gray. So when I developed the color palette for each room in our house I mainly stuck with blue, gray, green and pink overall (with a few complementary exceptions here and there). One color may dominate a room more prominently, and there are different shades of the colors throughout the house, but by sticking to these 4 complementary colors I can easily move furniture from one room to another creating multi-functional rooms as needed to accommodate guests or activities, without having to worry if colors will clash.



Once you have established what colors you (and any other inhabitants in the house) feel comfortable in, analyze the room. Examine everything – how much natural light you have, how high your ceilings are, how multiple rooms flow amongst each other, etc.. If you have low ceilings and west-facing windows, you probably don’t want to go with a super dark color scheme. Bri’s living room above is a great example of this. When she moved into her apartment the majority of her furniture was dark and industrial looking. Through reupholstering a few pieces that she already owned in brighter colors, purchasing a few new items that were not so bottom heavy and adding those gorgeous plants, the room was completely transformed from dark and dreary to bright and cheery (sorry for the rhyme I couldn’t help myself, I’m such a dork!)!



Ok, now you have an idea of what colors you feel comfortable in and have analyzed the room, what next? Reference a color wheel. Yes those circular devises we used in kindergarten actually have a purpose! A quick recap – color wheels are made up of three primary colors being red, blue and yellow. When mixed they create secondary colors, including orange, green and purple. Tertiary colors are created by mixing two secondary colors or a primary and a secondary color, creating various hues as seen in the diagram above. When selecting your color palette you can choose complementary colors (colors opposite each other on the color wheel) or analogous colors (groups of colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel) or a combination of the two. I particularly like using triads (3 colors located equally apart on the color wheel), where one color is dominant and the other two colors are accents, making sure to balance warm and cool shades. Intensity of the colors you are selecting is also important to consider, bright shades will bring more energy to a room whereas muted shades will calm a space.


Amagansett-Beach-House-DiCorcia-Interior-DesignFinally, before you purchase anything (or throw anything out for that matter) make a design board to create a visual layout of what the final product will look like. I typically like to start by selecting the rug, a large piece of artwork or window treatments, as these items tend to dominate visual residency. I use photoshop to layout my color palette, including furniture, paint, fabric, flooring, lighting, art, wallpaper, etc. Once that is finalized, I collect samples of all the textiles and compile them on cork boards in my office to verify everything will live harmoniously together. Display variances on computer screens can distort color (even when comparing one computer screen to another), so this is instrumental to double-check!

And if you think you might need a bit more help feel free to reach out to me! I offer very affordable services, including E-Decor for a soup to nuts project and Styling if you just need help with color selection and accessories.

Images: 1, 2, 3,

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