No More Color Combo Confusion!
If the terms “analogous,” “triadic,” “split-comp,” and “tetradic” give you a headache, don’t worry! You don’t need to understand a color wheel or color theory to create beautiful and interesting color combinations for your home. We hope to take the mystery OUT and put some fun IN to choosing color combos.
But first, congratulations to Sarah Lynn for winning one of our “Cocktail Kitsch” aprons in the April Giveaway! This month, you have until noon, May 20th, to subscribe, confirm, and comment on a post for a chance to win a hand painted, embellished wine glass! (Details in the photo.) Open to U.S. entrants only. More comments = more entries!
To celebrate my 40 years of this artsy thing, my goal is to give away an item every month in 2016 to a lucky subscriber. Due to my husband’s very serious health issues, our new web store opening will be delayed, and I may have to skip a Giveaway or two while he is in hospital and recuperating. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding during this time! I also want to thank everyone for your purchases from my etsy shop, which will help us pay the stack of medical bills. We appreciate any good thoughts you can send our way!
PHOTO NOTES: The example photos below are being used under a Creative Commons Attribution License. Photographers are credited, and you can find them on flickr by searching for their names. Go show them some love on flickr! I have added color combos next to, or under, each photo to get you thinking. (If you are one of the photographers and wish for your photo to be removed, please contact me or comment, and I will be happy to comply with any changes you request!)
1. The “60/30/10” Rule – A Game of Percentages
Think in terms of three colors to a room. You don’t want all three colors vying for equal attention, so we’ll break their amounts into percentages. 60% of the room (walls and floors, the largest areas) will be your dominant color, standing out and making a statement about you. Next, since 30% of a room is your furnishings, and you don’t want them to compete with the dominant color, pick a more muted, neutral, or softer color for those items (or a color similar to the 60% color). Finally, use that 10% allotment to make the room sing by bringing in bits of the brightest color in accessories (pillows, vases, art, colorful bowls, and other trinkets). So, 60% dominant color, 30% softer, 10% vivid. (Photo by Wonderlane)
2. The “Tropical Fish Know How to Dress” Rule
Someone once told me that to find unusual and unique color combos, look at tropical fish. We never look at them and say, “eeek, those colors!” No, we look at how GLORIOUS those combos are! Use the brightest, most vivid color sparingly (your 10%), and perhaps a muted version of your 60% color choice as your mid-tone. (Photo by Laszlo Ilyes)
3. The “Orchids Are The Oscar Gowns of the Floral World” Rule
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who dislikes orchids. The colors are so varied, from muted brick tones to brilliant flashes of yellow to vivid purples against stark white. Do a Google image search for orchids, and you will be able to spot your favorites right away. Remember, the brightest pops of color are saved for your accessories, but feel free to be bold with your 60% color choice to show off your personality! (Photo by MShehan, Robin Miller, Julieanh)
4. The “There’s No Place I’d Rather Be” Rule
What is your dream destination? A wave-kissed beach? A rocky desert? A lush forest? Find your absolutely favorite photos of your favorite place, and look for color inspiration there! Trust me, you will be very happy with color choices taken from your favorite places. It’s a subconscious way to let yourself live in your “happy place,” even if you can’t get there as often as you’d like. (Photos by Sarah McDevitt, Nicola, Tony Hisgett)
5. The “Lebowski” Rule, aka: “The Rug Really Tied the Room Together”
A basic tenet, but something that people sometimes forget when choosing room colors. Take a color cue from the largest pattern in the room, and it WILL tie the room together. Have a beautiful oriental rug? Pic a color within the design to paint your walls (or as your 30% color). You don’t want to be too “matchy-matchy,” so I generally stay away from the main rug color, but pulling a less-used color from within the pattern to share with the room. (Photo by Carpetbeggers)
6. The “Neighbors Are Nice” Rule
Yes, you do need to look at a color wheel for this one. If you want a relaxing, soothing room, choose “neighbors” on the color wheel as your two main colors. Blue and sea green. Orange and yellow. Vermillion and orange. Pale yellow and lime. With colors so close to each other, make sure that you keep one a bit more muted so the room isn’t an overwhelming tone blast. (Photo by Muha…)
7. The “This Is Me” Rule
Look in your closet. What is the predominant color of your clothes? You chose them for not only the fit, but for the COLOR. And you look GOOD in that color, so why not “wear” it in a room? Look at your possessions, too. Have a basket of treasured seashells? Then perhaps off whites, light grays, pinks, and sand are some colors to think about. What about your cobalt glass collection? Yellow and blue is a classic combo! Have you gathered old tins? What colors on the labels attract your eye? USE those colors! It is a comforting feeling to be surrounded by colors you love. (Photos by Evelyn Giggles, Kevin Dooley)
8. The “I’m So Sophisticated” Neutral Rule
Nothing says sophistication like neutrals of gray, pewter, black, and white. Keep your 60% and 30% in these tones, and then just add pops of a favorite bright color. Can you imagine a vivid lipstick red pillow on that couch? Or bright lime serving bowls, or bright pendant lights? You get the idea. Metal accessories will also reflect those bits of color, adding texture and rhythm to the room. (Photo by Boa-franc)
9. The “Traditional, With a Twist” Rule
Traditional color combos that will never go out of style: black and white, blue and yellow, blue and white. But for an updated look, change up one of the classics. Instead of navy and bold yellow, try deep cobalt with a pale lemon yellow. You’ll get a classic feel with a fresh attitude. (Photos by Ethan, Kyle Garrity)
As a painter, I like some crazy color combos, but when decorating my home, these are some of the guidelines and techniques that I use when choosing colors. I hope that the techniques will help you rethink your white walls. Express your personality! Even if you don’t plan on painting soon, please try out a few of the exercises to build your color-choosing confidence, and let me know about your experience down in the comments! I have a scrapbook of color combos that I refer to when painting my home or my art, and it’s really fun to look back at the photos I’ve collected!
I hope you’ll become more aware about the color around you, and that you are excited about using more meaningful color in your life. Color can change energy, soothe or energize. Color creates a mood, and can send a very personal message about who you are, if you let it speak through your life and your home.
One last item for you. I was tagged in a FB post by Carolyn, who is using one of my painted bowls to hold beautiful handmade jewelry by Garage Band Jewelry and Green Lion Forge. Here’s the note she posted: “What’s better than hand made jewelry? An amazing hand painted octopus to display it! I am seriously in love with this piece from my friend and amazing artist Dawn Schmidt Ventimiglia.” That is so sweet, and I ALWAYS appreciate getting photos of my items “in the wild”!! *SMILES* Thank you, Carolyn!
Don’t forget to subscribe, confirm, and comment to be entered in the May Giveaway for that wine glass to use, perhaps while dreaming up some fabulous color combinations!