The Design Therapist Shares her Color Trade Secrets
“What are some things I should know when I pick colors?”
• Use two main colors, a light neutral, and one accent.
• It is best to choose colors on a sunny day.
• Choose colors in the natural environment of your home, not in the light of a store.
• Pick up additional colors in small amounts form pictures and accessories.
• Colors should be repeated, even if it they are only seen through the doorway to the next room.
• If you can see a color through the doorway, count it as a part of the color
scheme of the room you want to paint.
• Colors come in and go out of style. Use the colors that you like to live with.
It will probably go with the things you have.
• If a color that you like is “dated”, but you want to keep it in your home, pick
it up in accessories and change the wall color to the more popular neutrals.
• Shady rooms need more saturated colors. For example, the deep burgundies and
greens in victorian color schemes illustrate this. Because they covered their
widows for insulation and protection from dust and grit, it was dark inside.
Saturated color shows better in the dim light, otherwise, pale colors would just
• Purple becomes more muted in the yellow incandescent night lighting.
• Golden yellows (butter, corn, wheat) bring “sunshine” into dark rooms.
• Lemon yellow turns a sickly pea green in shady rooms. Use lemon in sunny rooms.
• Ceiling white has a little black in it so it covers better. The trouble is that
it looks gray where the wall color meets the ceiling. Instead, use the lightest
shade of the color on the walls, or match the white of the woodwork.
• Reds & lighting: The yellow in incandescent lights bring out the orange tones.
Shadows bring out the purple and black tones. Blue tones in the old style
fluorescent lights bring out the purple tones. Yellowish green tones in the
screw-in lamp bulbs make red muddy. Gray days hide the red in neutral.
• Reds mix well with other reds.
• Greens mix well with other greens. Look out side at nature.
• Blues don’t mix easily with other blues.
• Purples don’t mix easily with other purples.
• All those green plants in your room are a part of your color scheme too.
• Color schemes are changed every several years by the home furnishings industry.
They usually go from cool to warm, from bright to muted or neutral to colorful.
• You will know that a new color scheme is coming soon when you see a lot of
colorless neutral interiors in magazines.
• You will know when new styles and sizes of prints are coming when you see a lot
of small dot random prints being used. They’re prints, but not prints.
• Color pallets change with the prevailing mood of the country. In times of war,
for instance, the colors go back to nature and earth to address our need for
security. (Like you see in 2012 and the ’60s Vietnam war, we go back to basics.