Picking Color Like a Pro- I’m Sharing My SECRET SYSTEM!

If I want to see many of my clients curl into the fetal position and go into full panic mode, all I have to do is suggest they pick wall colors.  Selecting a color palette for a space is sometimes the most difficult part of any design and yet a great many future decisions are significantly impacted by the colors in the space.  Well don’t you fret!  I’m going to let you in on a little secret! This little lady has come up with an easy system for creating a color palette.  This is the same system I use in my own home, and with each of my clients.  My system may be translated to be used in just one room or an entire home.  

Pick Color Like a Pro!

I will break down each step I use, and show you how I used the process in my office. By the end of this post you will know how each color in your palette layers together to create a full and complete space.  

You might have heard when creating a color palette it helps to have an inspiration piece such as a rug or piece of art. Inspiration pieces are great if you have them, but don’t feel like you have to force it. I have found the most helpful start to creating a color palette is collecting inspiration images. Find the common thread in all your images. These inspiration images will be helpful when creating your palette.  In the beginning, don’t worry about where all your colors will go in your room or home, just think about the colors you always find yourself drawn to.

Step One: Select a Foundation Color

The foundation color will be your background, the dominant color in the room. As I said before, don’t worry about where the color will go at this point.  Think more about what you want the room to feel like or the style of the room.  Do the images you find yourself attracted to have bright white walls or do you love the look of bold color?  I call this the foundation color because it sets the tone for your space.  If you want the room to be warm and cozy then you might select a spicy rust color. If you prefer a bright airy feel you may select a pale creamy blue.  Lean on your inspiration images for direction.

Color Palette - Step 1 with color blocks

In my office, I chose Dover White as my foundation color because my office is a small space and I wanted a sunny cheery room. The creamy ivory was the perfect background to the bright accents I would later introduce.

Color Palette - Foundation Color

Step Two: Select your Primary Accent Color

The accent color will be used in up to 60% of your accent opportunities. You’re probably thinking, “Ugh Math Gross!”  I know…but think of it more a rule-of-thumb. Sometimes my clients get laser focused on their primary accent color. They walk into the store and say “I’ll take one of everything in red.” If this is you, it might be time to layer in a secondary accent color. An accent opportunity could be an accent wall, accent furniture, drapes, bedding, art and accessories.

Color Palette Step 2

The Primary Accent Color in my office is Greenbelt. I decided to use the majority if my 60% real estate allotment on my ceiling.  I’m in love with it by the way.  IN LOVE!  When I told my hubby I was going to paint the ceiling green.  He was worried it was going to make the room feel closed in.  I REALLY had to play the “trust me” card on this one!

Color Palette - Primary Accent Color

Step Three: Select your Secondary and Final Accent Colors

With your remaining accent opportunities, these accent colors will fill up to 20% of your space each.  Not to bring up that pesky math again but these colors are only used a wee bit compared to your background color and your primary accent color.  You will want two colors that just add a bit of balance to the palette. These colors can be drastically different then the other colors you have existing, or a varying shade of one of your other colors.  It depends on how subtle or bold you want your palette to be.  Sometimes these two layers are overlooked but I believe these colors are the most important steps to a complete you color palette.  

Color Palette Step 3

My secondary and final accent color in my office are red and yellow. I chose to place a dollop or two of these bright colors around the room. I think you can imagine, if I would have only had the green it would have been a bit boring.  

Step 3 red and yellow

The Last Step: Select a Grounding Color.  

A grounding color offers a place for your eye to rest.  A familiar color to connect and neutralize the space.  Most of the time grounding colors are black, brown or white.  Sometimes they can be metallic.  Most of the time this is chosen by the room.  Say if the room has wood floors or if you have black granite counter tops.  But sometimes it can just be a bit of black furniture or a few metallic lamps.  Don’t put too much energy into this step.  Again reference your inspiration images.  If you see that many images have rustic wood tones, this can be your grounding color.  If you notice you are drawn more to black picture frames this is a clue to the grounding color you can have around your home.

Finished Color Palette

You can see in my office the warm wood color of my two chairs became my grounding color.  With the majority of the space taking on a bright appearance I found the rustic wood tones to be the perfect tone to give my eye a place to rest.  By the way, my puppy is a permanent accessory to the office.  

Color Palette - Step 4 Grounding Color

I hope you find this system easy and give you a bit more confidence when selecting your next color palette.  If you find this helpful please share with every single friend you have!

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