In Design

Instant Style with Solid Colors

Bold yellow sofa with colorful throw pillows for interior style

Note: This post was updated March 2024

Color. It is arguably the strongest design element and one people pay the most attention to. We often find colors already put together in patterns and designs for us which can make that single object or textile exciting and eye-catching. Let us set aside the pattern for a moment and think about what happens if we just use color in its solid form in a room. The results from using solid colors are bold and stimulating.

These days I get inspiration from decidedly unexpected sources: Play-Doh, crayons, YouTube…life with children means constantly being surrounded by solid colors. Solid, happy, bright colors.

So, that’s where my current inspiration originates from; the beauty of pure color, as I’ve been reminded daily by Jack and Euna. I tend to favor neutrals and soft colors, but lately I’ve been enjoying brighter and warmer hues. I’m really liking this palette – like a California sunset. Bright and warm but still possessing a subtle softness.

c3d2cc713a7524c9d0fd942f2123afc2Source: Lievore Altherr

In the twenty-tens, the design world collectively went to the White Side – all white kitchen cabinets, white subway tile, stark white walls, white shag rugs. Let’s not forget the addition of Millennial Grey. Grey couches, grey throw pillows and even grey floors! Don’t get me wrong, I love a neutral space, but solid COLOR adds a level of fun, playfulness, and youthful energy that white just can’t do. Color can add a subtle pop or make a bold statement.

One unbelievably simple thing I believe anyone can easily do is decorating with solid colors.

Client: Plascon. Agency: LBCD, Cape Town. Shoot: Colour Forecast Campaign 2013. Location: Cape Town, South Africa. Photographer: Mark Williams. Stylist: Cathy O’Clery. Creative Director: Laurence Brick. 25/04/13 to 08/05/13.

Source: Plascon


Source: astep


Decorating with solid colors means you can simply put colors together without paying attention to “what matches” or rules about mixing small-scale patterns with large-scale patterns. In fact, forget using patterns altogether with this technique. This is an approach I like to recommend to everyone because it’s so easy. Firstly, all you have to do is put together a few colors you enjoy into the space you are focusing on. Next, in order to add dimension, focus on playing with texture instead of multi-colored patterns. Additionally, one piece of art can add another layer of visual interest to the space.

For example, wall paint is color A. Throw pillow is a solid color B. Curtains are a solid color C. Console table is painted color D. All different colors. One bold and fun result.

Client: Plascon. Agency: LBCD, Cape Town. Shoot: Colour Forecast Campaign 2013. Location: Cape Town, South Africa. Photographer: Mark Williams. Stylist: Cathy O’Clery. Creative Director: Laurence Brick. 25/04/13 to 08/05/13.

Source: Plascon

118_UdA_Metaphysical Remix_Ripamonti (12)Source: UdA


Source: Camilla Molders Design

28d844af47bc805e048ca1ae1d6cdd47Source: knstrct


Solid Color Schemes

Interior designers are always asked about elements in design “going together”. Does a brass light fixture “go” with brushed nickel door hardware? Does a traditional chair “go” with a modern dining table? Does a cool paint color “go” with a warm wood finish? From my many years of design experience, if the pieces are pretty and placed in the right spot with regard to proportion – just about anything can work together.

Let us take an orange sofa, a blue lamp, and a berry-red rug and you’ve got a room. Instant happy style. Do the colors match? Nope. But they look great together. I’ve put together a few collections of solid color combinations by room that look great.

Ideas for decorating and designing with an orange sofa

Here’s a delightful kitchen using shades of yellow, green, and red. I’m going to call this combination the “V” scheme. The tile is Viridian green. The clock is in Vermillion red. The Smeg fridge is Vibrant yellow! Start with these three saturated colors and add softer shades like rose quartz and olive green.

Ideas for a bright happy retro kitchen using yellow, green, and red colors and a yellow Smeg refrigerator

How about a living room that starts with a white sofa and white walls? Add pops of bright pink, orange, and blue. I like this, let’s call this the “P” scheme. The rug is a Persian blue. The pillows are Passion Pink and Papaya. The wall sconce is Pistachio. Okay, it might be a stretch to find color names starting with the same letter! The pillows are really more of a Wineberry and Burnt Orange.

Ideas for a bright happy living room using bold colors pink orange blue and mint

Next is a sophisticated dining room scheme using dusty lavenders, yellow, and green. I have a Chiffon Mist wall covering and Sugar Plum rug. A glossy white dining table is paired with Beetle green chairs. The paint color is Lemon Grove by Benjamin Moore which would be a great solid color on a bar cart. The chandelier is from Niche Modern in Smoke.

Ideas for using color in dining room decor with yellow, purple, and green

Let’s check out a bedroom combination using wine purple, butter yellow and stone blue. The headboard is a plum color and is definitely the statement piece of the room. The wall covering is the same as the dining room scheme above and it really compliments the richer plum color. The lamp is a butter yellow and is nice with a piece of abstract artwork and two decorative pillows in yellow and stone blue.

Ideas for using colors plum, purple, yellow, and blue in bedroom decor with an upholstered headboard

Finally, a look at a really great retro-inspired bathroom combination. See what I mean? White subway tile and black hex tiles need to move over! This would be so fun in a girls’ bath. Start with a mint green sink, this soft but solid colored tile from clé tile which I think could go on the floor in this scenario, a bright yellow wall sconce, and plum colored bath mat. The white penny tile would be great in a shower.

Fun retro bathroom concept idea using mint, yellow, plum colors and penny tile and mint green bathroom sink

The bathroom and kitchen combinations are definitely for someone on the more adventurous side while the bedroom scheme is more traditional. The dining room scheme speaks of luxury while the living room with the white sofa is totally L.A. You can take this idea of decorating with solid colors in different ways, and it’s a refreshing change from the all over white with black and brass accents trend.

Need Help?

I hope I have shown you how easy decorating with solid colors is! But, I also understand it is helpful to have another set of eyes on a project or a problem. If you think you need assistance with choosing a color scheme for your home, check out my design services for a one-on-one guide on your design journey! I am eager to help you make your house a home!

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