Using Color in Interior Design

using color

For homeowners, color seems to be one of the most challenging aspects of interior design. Their frustrations are understandable—walking into a paint store and trying to choose a shade of off-white is overwhelming! At Hoskins Interior Design, we are fairly loose about color choices, allowing the personality of our clients to drive the scheme. In general, our philosophy on using color in interior design is built upon four ideas:

 1) Ignore color trends. 

Color is a very personal preference. If orange is the “hot” color right now, and you abhor the color, then do not use it! All the colors that exist are available for your use in your space—why limit yourself to a passing trend? Color in your home is not the same as color in your clothing. The investment in painting your wall, purchasing a sofa, or installing window coverings is very different than buying a sweater. These interior design investments are more difficult to change, so we advise approaching your decisions with that fact in mind. There will always be new ideas in color. Unless you are sure you are going to love a trend for a long time, it is best to incorporate it in smaller items like toss pillows, bench seats, hand towels or even flowers. We feel it is best to participate in trends in a fleeting way since they are by their nature fleeting. Fads we completely ignore!


blue master bedroom design


 2) Choose colors that support the atmosphere you want to achieve. 

Color establishes the atmosphere of a space. In general the warm color families like reds and yellows stimulate and uplift. Cooler hues like blues and greens soothe and calm. Understanding the look you are trying to achieve will drive the direction of your color scheme. You receive the biggest impact for your design investment with vertical surfaces—the walls. Therefore, wall colors and coverings, draperies and artwork must be well chosen to set the correct tone for a space. “Noisy walls” in a spacious room where you spend a lot of time will lead you to tire of the look quickly. Color on large pieces of furniture can have the same overwhelming impact. Due to the investment furniture requires, we tend to choose timeless pieces that complement a space rather than take it over.

Neutral wall colors set a classic backdrop for a space, allowing you to easily change the other elements in the room as your tastes evolve. Classic does not mean traditional however, unless you want it to. Modern, transitional, eclectic—all styles are supported with this easy-going color scheme.


 3) Test your colors out before you commit to them. 

You cannot make color choices from a picture on the internet, paint fan decks or chips in the store. For example, there are thousands of colors of off-white and cream—they can be pinkish, greenish, yellowish, etc., and you will not be able to see that undertone until you bring it into your space. Light has a tremendous effect on color, particularly wall paint. We suggest you test colors by painting them on a large piece of poster board and placing it around your space at varying times of day. This experimentation is the only way you will know how the color will act in your space. And, it is a lot less expensive to buy 2-3 quarts of test colors than many gallons of the wrong color.


living room design

 4) Select the details of your color choices properly. 

It is the details of color that are the most challenging. For example, when creating a neutral space (leaning to whites and creams) including visual interest can be difficult. When color is not the feature, quality becomes the basis of the design, so execution is very important. Elements like furniture with rich tone-on-tone fabric patterns and lovely silhouettes, accessories with unique shapes and textures, and window treatments and floor coverings with interesting patterns will determine the success of the design.

On the other hand, using rich color can disguise other elements, allowing the bold hue to be featured. When your budget requires a slow investment in quality furniture and accessories, color can take up the slack.

If your home does not have lovely architectural details like intricate woodwork and moldings, you can paint the base moldings and window trim the same color as the walls to allow them to recede. Those elements are not important to the space, so let something else like the furniture or accessories pop instead!

When using deep colors, we find that you will most likely end up with a less intense tone than you originally expected. These rich tones are especially wonderful in small rooms that you are in and out of, like laundry rooms, powder baths and children’s rooms. These spaces offer the opportunity to delight without overwhelming, and they are easy to change when you tire of the color.

There really aren’t too many rules with using color in interior design. We encourage you to be open minded enough to give yourself a taste of something new when it is appropriate. If you are struggling with your color choices, reach out to us! We’d love to help.




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