Ever since starting The 256 Project, one thing that people comment on the most is how we use color in our house. Some people have said that they are impressed by it and wish they had gone bold in their own homes, or wish that they weren’t afraid of color so much so that they could bite the bullet on adding more of their favorite hues at home. Or some people leave our house screaming. But our house is not for them! Clearly, we are not afraid of color here at the cozy cottage. I’ve said before how I really like and admire many different styles of décor, including minimalism and a very white or neutral color palette. If that is what you like and gravitate to, then have fun and enjoy! But if you are interested in adding a little bit of color in some way to your home and aren’t quite sure where to start or how to do it, then I have a few tips for you. I originally wrote about this for Domino and am expanding on this concept below.
- Start with the living room. This is the easiest place to start as it’s usually the place where you want to express the most energy, where you invite people to hang out, where families play. This is the perfect room to add paint for an accent wall or the entire space. This room generally also has a lot of textures and décor that lend themselves to color, like a couch, rug, curtains, table and floor lamps, art work, TV console.
- If you want to test out how you feel about color, one trick is to steal from your artwork. Do you see one or two colors in your art pieces that you like and wouldn’t mind spending a little more time staring at? Start small with throw pillows and blankets that speak with your artwork, either matching those colors or contrasting them. These can be inexpensive, they are not a commitment and you can change them up frequently. If you are ready to go slightly bolder, then move toward the curtains or rug. A much bolder move would be to buy furniture in a color, such as an upholstered chair or couch.
With our living room, we did a combo of bold/colorful and neutral. It started with us painting our fireplace bright yellow – not neutral, I know! – and the rest of the walls white. The couch is gray and the rug is patterned black and cream. (See? Neutrals!) Color is added through the artwork, TV console, patterned curtains and table lamp. Wooden elements – end table, coffee table, plant stand, another table lamp – throughout the room help ground the space, in my humble opinion.
- Narrow down color choices by thinking about what colors you usually gravitate towards. Look through shelter magazines, your Pinterest boards, your closet. Are you seeing any single color or maybe two colors reoccur the most? Then perhaps you should take a chance on that color in your home. You can start small, such as with throw pillows, a duvet, or other pieces of easily changeable home décor. Or maybe take a bold step with a color you know you love and paint! You can create an accent wall or paint an entire room. Just make sure to test that paint color on all walls in any given room and check it during different times of daylight so you see how you will really feel about that color in that space. Paint rarely looks the same on a wall as it does on a paint chip.
There are so many colors in this house that I could go into a lengthy story about why we chose each color but I’ll just focus on one for now. The colors of the sunset make me really happy. While I don’t actually wear a lot of orange or coral, I find that I’m often buying flowers in those colors and just seeing them brighten my mood. So we painted our front door a dark but bright coral, which really helps our small house pop on the street and puts a smile on my face every day.
- Let artwork do most of the work. Go for a big, oversized piece that draws the eye and let’s you still keep your furniture, rug and other home décor neutral. This could be a large painting or print or textile.
We did something similar to this in our flex guest room/studio. Everything is in a neutral white/cream color with wood accent pieces. The color comes in from the curtains, rug and photo we had blown up to act as our main artwork. The colors are blues and purples and stand out against the white backdrop of the room.
- Make the neutral a little less neutral. I get it: white, gray, beige, cream and all related shades feel safe. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that all of these paint colors tend to have undertones of pink, yellow and blue. Swapping out a neutral paint color for something just a little less neutral, like an extremely pale pink or blue can give a room that extra oomph while still feeling like you’re playing it safe with color.
- Green is a color! If you’re still hesitating on paint, décor and furniture color enhancements, then consider adding plants, or even one big plant that will add a natural, bold color while letting the neutral palette of the rest of your space still command attention.
Our mud room is probably the most neutral of all of our spaces, even though it has a colorful stained glass window. All decor is neutral, from the brown and white baskets to the reclaimed wood shelving and the vintage wooden dresser. The plants do the talking in this room.
- Lastly, stay neutral but add texture. I suspect that often people say they want to add color but what they are really looking for and are unable to articulate, is that a space is falling flat and they don’t know why but they think color is the answer. An easy fix is to find home décor with different textures but of the same tonal color of the space so that your eye bounces around the room but you don’t feel blinded by pops of color or bold color choices. This can be done by different textures of pillows, blankets, rugs, curtains and wall hangings. If you are in a position to renovate, this also can be done by adding texture in a more permanent way, such as wainscoting, beadboard, board and batten, tiles or trim to walls and ceilings.
An example of tone-on-tone décor and sticking to neutrals in our own house is this half of our dining room, with rusted silver metal letters hanging on gray-painted walls, wood furniture and neutral and natural-colored tabletop décor.
I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, ask away in the comments below or find me on social media.