Designer Abigail Ahern calls it “color paralysis” – the fear of making a regrettable choice when redoing a room in a bolder palette. Bored sick of beige, many homeowners yearn to surround themselves with more dramatic colors yet, somehow, still play it safe. With these 10 tips from color experts, it’s possible to go bold without regret.
Audition the color in a big role
“Never, ever, ever just go by the swatch card. It won’t do the color justice or reflect how it will look in your pad,” says Ahern, author of the new book “Color: Transform Your Home.” “You’re going to need to paint out the hugest area you can with a sample pot of paint.”
Paint an entire wall “and live with it for a few days to see how it makes you feel and how it looks in every light,” Ahern advises. Only then will you know if you can live with your new color choice.
Test to see if the color belongs
Before doing an entire wall, paint a repositionable substrate like foam board. That way, you can move the board around to see how a color looks in different lighting and up against trim, furniture and draperies.
Work up your nerve in a small space
“Making a bold color choice is intimidating. If you’re not ready to do it in a main room, start small – someplace like a powder room; that’s not a big commitment,” recommends Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams.
The dining room is another place to experiment because you won’t live with the results every day, “and since it’s used for entertaining, it’s a place to add drama and energy,” she adds.
Take a splash-and-splatter approach
To prevent a bold color from overwhelming a space, use it to make one big splash and then strategically and sparingly “splatter” that color throughout the room. In other words, choose one thing that’s literally big and bold (a sofa, an area rug, an accent wall) and “echo the color in the rest of the space using small dots of similar hues, even really muted versions, in the form of accent pieces to balance everything visually,” Ahern suggests.
Give your bold color star billing
“When you have a bold hue taking up a lot of real estate (such as a bedspread or sofa), restrain the rest of the palette, as it will make your key piece look way more amazing,” Ahern says.
Consider a wallop of color instead of ‘pops’
Bold colors are typically used as accents but they can succeed as the predominant color in a room as well. Balance and contrast are keys. If the walls are dark or saturated, go for neutral, subdued upholstery. “My house has all these crazy colors but I also have a lot of brown, neutral furniture in each room which provides a calming effect and wood floors to anchor everything,” says Kristin Nicholas, author of the new book “Crafting a Colorful Home.”
Heed the 60-30-10 rule
Choose a main, secondary and accent color and apply them formulaically. “Usually the 10 percent color is a dash of high-octane color used as an accent — perhaps a chartreuse, a teal blue or metallic. Not always, though!” Ahern says.
For example, the main color on all four walls could be oxblood, with camel furnishings and olive accents. Whatever colors you choose, just keep these proportions in mind.
Use color selection tools to get started
Some paint manufacturers’ websites and various apps allow you to experiment with different color palettes by “painting” preselected rooms or uploaded images of your own home. “Online tools are great to start the process and to answer the basic question of, ‘Do I really want red on my walls?’ But I would never make a color choice based on a virtual image,” Jordan says.
That’s because the color fidelity differs from one monitor to the next. “Always get an actual wet paint sample,” Jordan advises.
Break up your boldest color
“You may love a color but not be able to take it in a whole room or even on a wall, so try it on one feature wall broken up by a fireplace, windows, or a doorway or archway,” Jordan suggests.
Let the color wheel be your guide
“If you’re timid, choose an analogous color combination – colors that are next to each other on the color wheel,” Nicholas suggests. “If you’re more adventuresome, choose complementary colors on opposite sides of the color wheel.”
Don’t let boring colors dull your life. Use these tips to help choose a bold color you’ll enjoy.