Decorating With Color

Mastering the Use of Color in Home Decorating

Just as there is meaning associated with different gemstones in traditional lore, and there is a “language” of flowers, colors also speak to us in different ways. They can alter our moods, are thought to affect appetite and physical well-being, and have an effect on energy and anxiety levels. Over the ages, and in different cultures, the same hues may have many meanings, and evoke a range of very different responses.

Adding color to your home decor can promote happiness. Whether it’s incorporating a touch of yellow to brighten your day or shades of blue to calm your mood; the shades you choose have the power to affect your well being. Whatever your favorite color, we have some great decorating tips to help you make it work in your own home.

The light-filled living room of the Austin home in the image above was conceived by designer Mark Cravotta and is infused with rich colors like those in the antique rug purchased at Black Sheep Unique and a commissioned abstract by Austin-based artist Roi James.
Feature Image Photo Credit: Luxe Interiors + Design

Color in Interior Decorating

Colorful Multi-Color Painting
A great way to add brilliant color to a space, is to choose the artwork first as the inspiration for color that will be incorporated into the room.
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design

Colorful Farmhouse Kitchen

Colorful Farmhouse Kitchen in a Rustic New England Home
Image courtesy of: House Beautiful


Yellow has a dual personality. Sunny yellow encourages high spirits and most yellow tones express hope, joy, and idealism, but yellow is also thought of as the color of cowardice and betrayal and today it is commonly associated with caution. Some people react strongly to yellow, either with like or dislike.

Most of us find blue calming and conservative. From the cool side of the spectrum, it encourages trust and instills security. Blue is an international favorite, considered extremely versatile. The color of sea and sky, blue can be pale and watery or appear and dark and stormy. In its palest version, it is the color that little boys are wrapped in; its darker shades promote confidence, and clear, bright blues are playful and exuberant.

Green is said to encourage healing and it is the primary color of nature, in all its various shades. It is viewed as the color of generosity, and it is considered lucky. It signifies rebirth and renewal, but green is also viewed as the color of envy and misfortune. Dark green has become associated with the military, but paradoxically it is considered a “peacemaker.”

Red is a high energy color, imbued with fire and passion; it is intertwined with love and celebration but is also used as a warning signal and indicates danger. In the home, it is dazzling in small doses, dramatic on the walls of a dining room because it stimulates appetite and conversation, “lovely” in its paler pink persona, or regal when it appears as ruby or garnet. In its various shades, red can personify feminine or masculine characteristics. Rusty red and reddish brown are associated with autumn and harvest, while lighter red is fresh and spring-like. Pink is the color of little girls! In some cultures, red signifies purity and is often worn by brides, while it is also associated with anger, war, and violence, the color of blood.

Purple signifies royalty, wisdom, and spirituality, while orange is viewed as playful, youthful and energizing.

Brown is earthy and natural, serious and stable; it is the color of wood and of dirt, and it has come to signify comfort, one of the reasons why its lighter “cousin,” beige, has for a long time been considered the basic neutral of home decor.

Black can be somber or dramatic, depending on how it is used. It is formal and sophisticated, but also the color of mystery, grief, and death.

Mixed with white, black becomes grey and denotes strength and reliability. A perfect choice for corporate interiors, grey has gained ground for trendy home interiors. While it is sometimes characterized as too cool for the home, when mixed with a bit of brown, it is known as greige, blending beautifully with grey and beige tones, taupe, black and white, and many other colors, to create stunning interiors.

White is associated with cleanliness, purity, peace, and innocence. In the home, however, too much white can feel cold and clinical. White is warmed or cooled by adding a bit of any other hue.

Colorful Avignon Chairs

Avignon Chairs Available in a Wide Variety of Color & Pattern
These chairs mix the tailored with the traditional – with a streamlined shape that brings a modern touch to the elegant rolled arms. Crafted of solid maple, it has a comfy seat that’s made for lounging. Turned wood legs add to its grace.  They are available in a gorgeous array of color and pattern, from stripes to diamond and gingham.
Image courtesy of: Serena & Lily Avignon Chairs


The science of color is not difficult, but not all individuals see or experience colors in the same way. Part of the reaction to individual hues is physical, but much of how we react is emotional, based in language and custom. We talk about feeling blue, seeing red and being green with envy. That influences how we experience color.

Every hue has a range of values, known by professionals as tints, shades, and tones. It helps to know how to talk about color.

Primary colors are red, blue and yellow; mixed in equal parts, red and blue form purple, blue and yellow result in green, and yellow and red create orange. These six hues form what is known as the basic color wheel. Again, if one were to mix adjacent hues equally with one another, six additional hues are created, resulting in what is considered the full spectrum of the primary color wheel. These full-strength hues are bright, clear and intense. Mixed with black and white in various ways, they lead to an almost infinite range of colors for stylish home interiors.

Mixing white with the full-strength hues results in tints, commonly referred to as pastels; pink is created by combining red and white in differing proportions; the more white, the lighter the tint.
In the same way, shades are created by mixing black with each hue; and tones result from adding both black and white in differing proportions to the initial hue. Much of our world is colored by these greyed, muted hues.

For the focus of this article, we will take a closer look at how green, blue, yellow, purple, orange and red can be used to create a beautiful room.

Bright Little Girls Room

Bright Little Girls Room
Image courtesy of: Serena & Lily Children’s Bedding


According to celebrity interior designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, he suggests that if you’re not keen on the idea of incorporating large doses throughout the space, you can simply “add really fun emerald glasses to your regular white plates and suddenly you’ve got that up-to-the-minute look.” From lime green to emerald, the hue represents freshness, vibrancy, and growth.

Pantone Greenery Living Room | Decorating with Green | Kelly Burke Interiors

Bright Green in the Living Room
This stunning living room designed by Kellie Burke Interiors incorporates classic lines, antique neoclassical lighting and an acrylic table.
Image courtesy of: Kelli Burke Interiors
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Sarah Bartholomew Design | Decorating with Green

Elegant Georgian Home
Sarah Bartholomew definitely has an eye for chic, elegant and timeless designs which shows clearly in this Georgian home located in the Belle Meade neighborhood of Nashville.
Image courtesy of: Sarah Bartholomew, Interior Designer
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Decorating with Green

Traditional Home Design
Designed by Colette van den Thillart, this living room shows how well Greenery can work in a traditional home design. Here the balance between green with warm taupes and creams is stunning. Used subtly, Greenery can add the perfect pop of color to create a unique and elegant space.
Image courtesy of: House & Home
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Pantone Greenery Living Room | Ashley Whittaker

Green Accents
This room, designed by Ashley Whittaker, incorporates a bright green with joyful patterns and colors that radiate an easygoing warmth. Located in Weschester County New York, this living room effortlessly combines bold print, texture and pattern.
Image courtesy of: HouseBeautiful
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Contemporary Master Bedroom with Green Accents

Contemporary Master Bedroom with Green Accents
Lucite table lamps, from Wright Now in Chicago, flank the master bedroom’s custom parchment- covered headboard.
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design
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White Contemporary Dining Room with Green Accents

White Contemporary Dining Room with Green Accents
In this dining room, a custom designed shelving unit creates a focal point as well as providing storage and a display area for art and accessories.
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design
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Traditional Living Room with Green Décor

Sophisticated Vail Condo in Colorado
This cozy living room features a roaring fire and traditional pieces makes you feel at home the moment you walk in the door. Working within a palette of greens, straw and rich ivories, Interior Designer, Cindy Bardes Galvin, found decorative ways to visually delineate the spaces within the condo’s open floor plan.
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design
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Blue is a color with many faces and can feel optimistic, thoughtful and dreamy as well as masculine or feminine. A recent YouGov survey suggested blue was the world’s favorite color – and it’s easy to see why.

Traditional Blue Guesthouse Dining Room with Coffered Ceiling

Traditional Blue Guesthouse Dining Room with Coffered Ceiling
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design
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Decorating with Blue | Mark Cunningham Design

Dramatic Blue Dining Room
Interior designer Mark Cunningham rejuvenates Hana Soukupova and Drew Aaron’s Connecticut home.
Image courtesy of: Architectural Digest
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Blue & Yellow Savoy Bedding

Blue & Yellow Savoy Links Bedding
Inspired by classic architectural motifs, this gorgeous blue & yellow embroidered design is stitched onto luxe cotton sateen for a lovely dash of detail. With its white base and pop of color, it’s a linen closet essential that you can mix and match to your heart’s content. Such an effortless way to refresh your look.
Image courtesy of: Serena & Lily Bedding
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Sarah Bartholomew | Blue Kitchen

Soft & Elegant Shades of Blue in the Kitchen
Image courtesy of: Sarah Bartholomew, Interior Designer
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Yellow has a vast array of hues and is a color that can instantly project luminosity and warmth. Bright yellow can show sharp modernity, while muted and golden shades are timeless and elegant.

Contemporary Gold Living Room with Velvet Chairs

Contemporary Gold Living Room with Velvet Chairs
Dessin Fournir’s Rateau coffee table fashions a modern silhouette against the living room’s traditional Minton-Spidell chairs—swathed in Vervain cut velvet and Fabricut’s silk ticking stripe—and Rose Tarlow Fleurette draperies in charcoal on wheat.
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design
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Ashley Whittaker | Yellow Living Room

This elegant family room designed by Ashley Whittaker has a custom two-sided sofa that defines a cozy seating area without blocking the incredible views.
Image courtesy of: House Beautiful
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Purple can be very difficult to work into a balanced palette. Lilac and lavender add a feminine touch and are perfect for bedrooms. Many designers are fond of using the muted and dustier tones.

“All the other colors are just colors, but purple seems to have a soul – when you look at it, it’s looking back at you” ~Uniek Swain, Author

Pantone color of the year for 2018 was18-3838 Ultra Violet which a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade.

Pantone Color of the Year 2018

“Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection.”

Ashley Whittaker | Decorating with Purple

Ashley Whittaker Design
Another beautiful room created by interior designer Ashley Whittaker that incorporates shades of lavender.
Image courtesy of: House Beautiful
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Ian Stallings San Francisco Home | Mauve Walls

Elegant Mauve Walls in the Living Room
Interior Designer Ian Stallings, New York Culture Club with mauve walls.
Image courtesy of: Ian Stallings Design
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If used carefully and with confidence, orange can make a room sing. From terracotta to burnt-amber, apricot to lovely saturated shades, orange can create instant warmth.

“Used throughout a room, orange can become surprisingly neutral, and yet it can be bright and mood-enhancing.” ~ Jonathan Adler

An Orange County Home With Warm, Contemporary Interiors

An Orange County Home With Warm, Contemporary Interiors
Interior Designer, Michael Fullen’s stylistic inspiration came from the few furnishings the home owners brought with them, including a Trieste dining table with orange upholstered Elements chairs and a 1950s Eames chair. “The earthy palette incorporates oranges, greens and golds, while the design pays homage to great midcentury design,” Fullen adds.
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design
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A Vail Mountain Valley Home with Spectacular Lakeside Vistas Colorado

A Vail Mountain Valley Home with Spectacular Lakeside Vistas Colorado
The Lone Star aesthetic is visible on the interiors as well; a rack of Texas longhorns rides herd above the buttered stone fireplace in the main living area, for example. The furnishings are soft and warm, and the rooms are spacious and filled with light.
Interior Designer: George Terbovich, George Terbovich Design
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design
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Numerous tests have proven that red has an ability to provide a psychological punch and various shades of red can be used to convey very different emotions. It can be energizing and glossy in a living room, or create sensuality in a bedroom.

A Caribbean-Inspired Palm Beach Retreat with Modern, Tropical Materials

A Caribbean-Inspired Palm Beach Retreat with Modern, Tropical Materials
The tropical feel in the living room is promoted by Bielecky Brothers teak-stained rattan chairs, Cambodian throw pillows and a variety of red hues infused across a Venetian plaster wall.
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design
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A Waterfront Miami Condominium with Retro Classics

A Waterfront Miami Condominium with Retro Classics
Alison Berger’s light fixture from Holly Hunt suspends over two wood tables with glass bases and a dividing screen, both conceived by designer Carola Hinojosa and made by builder and craftsman Jerry Rowland. The chairs are by Christian Liaigre.
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design
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A Renovated 1900s Seattle Craftsman With Original Finishes

A Renovated 1900s Seattle Craftsman With Original Finishes
Coral draperies from GR Home and a Greek key Duralee fabric on Lee Industries host chairs freshen the classic dining table by Hickory Chair. A Patagonia settee completes the eclectic update.
Image courtesy of: Luxe Interiors + Design
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Bold Red Dining Room

Modern Red Dining Room
Image courtesy of: Horchow
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Decorating with color can be simplified. Pick the colors that speak to your soul and make your heart sing, and use them in ways that complement your architecture and your belongings. Allow your choices to give you pleasure and enrich your life.

Trends wax and wane over the years. Try not to be swayed by the current “color of the year” or the latest designer picks. Color in home decorating is a personal choice, and it doesn’t have to be a forever decision. If you have any doubts, consider a neutral background — perhaps trendy grey, modern greige or even a soft butter yellow, and then change the look of the room by adding or subtracting accent pieces. Refresh your decor with each passing season.

Why not look through our collections to see what’s trending now? No matter what hues you prefer, listen to how they speak to you! That’s what’s important.

Shop Home Decor at Buyer Select


“Pantone Color of the Year 2017 is Greenery”: Pantone,

“What the Pros Know: Painting With Color”: Elle Decor, October 13, 2010.

Kelsey Kloss, June 29, 2016, “10 Red Rooms That Prove a Statement Color Never Goes Out of Style”: Elle Décor,

Monique Walters, December 30,2016 by Monique Walters.  Vogue,  “The Decorating Trends to Look for in 2017.”

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