By Claire Dickey

Recent interior design trends have heavily favored muted colors like gray, beige and white, as well as natural wood tones. When executed well, this palette creates a calming and casual aesthetic, but it is also very easy for neutral rooms to veer into the realm of basic and boring — and who wants that? Designing a room or a house is a major financial investment, and no one sets out to spend money just to achieve mediocre results.

I will admit that I might be biased toward a more vibrant color scheme these days. After so much time spent living through the stress and monotony of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve never been more eager for surroundings filled with optimism and color. At this moment, I’m excited to create spaces that evoke joy and whimsy.

Caribbean blue? Yes, absolutely! Sunny gold? Why not! Emerald green? Bring it on!

Pandemic-induced enthusiasm aside, I recognize that introducing color can feel like a big design risk. Time and again I hear many of the same questions and concerns from clients, so let’s address each of these questions here.

“How do I know what color will work in my home?”
When I am asked this question, I start by countering with my own question: What colors do you love? Your home should reflect your tastes and preferences, so if you aren’t sure at first what color to choose, a reasonable place to start is with a color scheme that really speaks to you. Don’t overlook your own personal preferences because you’re worried about what’s trendy or what others will like. Let your personality shine.

“What if the color on the walls doesn’t match the paint chip I picked out?”
Worrying that a paint choice won’t quite match your expectations is a legitimate and rational concern. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that you can’t trust a paint chip alone. I always encourage homeowners to test colors on their walls before buying in bulk. Thankfully, most paint companies offer sample size jars for this purpose, and many now offer stick-on samples, too. It’s important to know that different factors will impact the way a color appears in your space including a room’s orientation, lighting fixtures, and the time of day. You never know how a color will look in your space until it’s actually in your space. Take your time and test your options to avoid the terrible realization that the color you loved on paper isn’t actually what you want to see every day.

“What if adding color makes my house look tacky?”
If you’re willing to introduce color to your space but aren’t quite sure how to do it, try using the 60/30/10 approach. This classic interior design rule says 60% of a room should be a primary color, 30% should be a secondary color, and 10% should be an accent color. For those making their first foray into design, a smart combination for paint, furniture and décor colors would be 60% neutral, 30% soft, and 10% bold. Keeping your boldest colors limited to pillows, throws, and other decorative accessories can be a smart and low-risk way to bring in a bright pop of color that makes a big impact in your home.

“How can I get past my hesitations about designing with color?”
When in doubt, follow your instincts and just experiment. If you don’t get the color exactly right the first time, repainting is an easy fix! However, if the thought of choosing a color still makes you break into a cold sweat, there are professionals that can help. Color consultants specialize in analyzing their clients’ tastes and furnishings to provide color recommendations. Similarly, architects and interior designers have lots of experience incorporating color into their designs, and all of these professionals can guide you to good decisions.

In my opinion, there’s really no excuse not to give color a try. Whether on your own or working with a design professional, there is a whole world of color out there just waiting to brighten your life.