In Design

Lovely colors for your home in 4 steps

Do you need help with figuring our what colors to use in your home? With so many color decisions to make from picking out paint colors to choosing upholstery options for a sofa, it helps to have an overall color palette to reference to make things easier. I recommend having a color vision for the whole home, and letting each room express it in a different way. Today I’m talking about the color palette for my home, what inspired it, and some steps to follow for creating your own.  This post revealed the colors I’m thinking of for my home and presented a couple of mood boards showing how those colors would look when applied to furniture and accessories. Here, I’ll show you how I came up with those lovely hues.

First, I have to say that coming up with a set of colors that I, Tamara Gavin, want for my home wasn’t easy, because I really do love all colors. That’s a tricky thing about being an interior designer. I’m constantly looking at beautiful things, spaces, and materials in every color imaginable to assist me in designing spaces all over the spectrum. Being immersed in so many successful and lovely combinations can leave me forgetting what I personally resonate with.

So I turned to things that I own and love. I don’t have a lot in my house right now, and much of what I do have is temporary, but I do have this rug, currently in my dining room, that I really enjoy. I bought it last year from craigslist, and it turned out the person selling it was a friend of mine. Asheville is a small town like that. She’ll be happy to know that I decided to use it as my inspiration piece for my home’s colors. Here it is:


Step 1: Get inspiration for your color palette from a piece you already have. It could be a piece of meaningful art, a favorite textile, or even a blouse that you adore. It is helpful if the piece features a variety of colors.

Then I needed to choose the colors in the piece I wanted to pick out. I first opened this photo in Photoshop and extracted these 6 colors.Color Inspiration from rug

If you have Photoshop you can do that too. But, an even easier way to select colors from an object is to simply download a free mobile app from a paint supplier. Two popular ones are Color Capture by Benjamin Moore and ColorSnap by Sherwin Williams. You can then simply snap a photo of your piece and it will automatically generate colors for you.

Here is the result from ColorSnap:

ColorSnap colors

And this is the result from Color Capture:

Inspiration colors from Rug (Ben Moore)ColorSnap will generate 8 colors and ColorCapture will generate 5, each with 2 suggested colors. For this purpose, I like having a set of five main colors because it makes an easier reference to match things to later, so I continued with Color Capture to narrow down my colors (but you could easily pick out your top 5 or 6 favorite colors from the other app). I also liked these Benjamin Moore color names. Cranberry Cocktail and Plum Martini? I’d love to be invited to attend one of their paint-naming parties!

Step 2: Use a mobile app, such as ColorSnap or Color Capture to pick out the colors in your piece for you. Try it for a few different pieces, and see what swatch combinations you get. You can play around with it to extract different colors.

Before deciding on this rug, I actually looked at my work bag first. I really love that bag, (I bought it from a rug warehouse in town, you can see similar ones on their website) and I thought at first that this would be the direction I’d go in. Here’s what those colors were.

ImageIt’s a beautiful spicy palette, but in the end, it didn’t feel right for my home. I really like blues for my house because it feels more relaxing, and this palette was more bold and energetic. I liked the more desaturated colors in the rug palette, as well as the neutrals. It was a better fit for the mood I wanted.

Step 3: Think about the mood you want to set for your home. when deciding on colors. What type of energy do you want? Vibrant? Calm? Loud? Soft? Look at your different color combinations and consider the moods they portray.

Then you’ll want to finalize your colors. I think 5 is a good number. Here’s a reminder of my colors:

Inspiration Paint Colors 5

1. Penthouse 2. Indi go-go 3. Northern Air 4. Cranberry Cocktail 5. Galaxy

Step 4: Using all your ideas from above,  follow this simple recipe I put together to help you create a great combination of colors!

(yield: 5 yummy colors)

  1. Start with one light neutral (Like “Penthouse” in my rug palette and “Oil Cloth” in my bag palette)
    • This is great for wall colors, window treatments, and upholstery
  2. Add one dark neutral (such as “Galaxy” in my rug palette and “Wenge” in my bag palette)
    • Great for hardware and furniture finishes
  3. Add one deep color (such as “Indi go-go” and “Caliente”)
    • Great for rugs and upholstery
  4. Add one lighter version of that deep color (“Northern Air” and “Adobe Orange”)
    • Great for accessories
  5. Add one coordinating color that pairs well with the first color (look to the color wheel as a reference. If you want to know the color theory behind my two different palettes here, the rug colors are a Split-Complimentary color scheme and the bag colors are an Analogous color scheme)
    • Great for rugs and upholstery

And remember, you aren’t constricted to just those 5, so don’t spend too much time deliberating on the exact color. That is your base to help you when making actual color decisions. Here is one mood board I created by using my colors as a guide to help me find different pieces. I also brought in a “pop” color. Can you spot it?

Mood Board i No.1

The lamp is a bright cherry red, which wasn’t in my set of 5 colors. To bring your room to life, I recommend a piece with a little punch in each room. Try a more saturated version of one of your colors. And always bring warmth with wood and leather if you can, no matter what your palette!

So there you have it. That’s how I came up with my color palette, and how you can too!




You Might Also Like

  • trickyjean
    September 9, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    This is awesome! Super educational and surprisingly easy! Thanks Tamara!

    • Tamara
      September 9, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Thank you! I’m so delighted that you liked it!

  • A moodboard for the family room and the sofa that inspired it | The Made Home
    October 16, 2014 at 9:10 am

    […] 1. Know your overall color palette. Having a set of guiding colors will really help you with making all sorts of decisions. Put together a color scheme of 4-5 colors for your whole home, but don’t feel like you are limited to just those colors. Use them as a reference as you put together each room to make sure you are creating a cohesive look and mood throughout home. Here’s my palette and tips for creating your own. […]

  • Wedding Blog
    February 25, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    This Piece Was Inspired By Color

    […] in Asheville, North Carolina. I’m an interior designer but love to play architec […]

  • Popup Builder Mailchimp extension requires authentication.