Picture Gallery Of Interior Design Color Schemes

Great design schemes are contagious and inspiring. People often take their surroundings for granted. But if you want to discover your own color style, it helps to pay closer attention.

That means few of the rooms shown in magazines and on websites will be exactly right for you or your home in their entirety, but bits and pieces surely would be. And the underlying principles and ideas can help you develop your own color scheme.

To discover your style, look through magazines, books, catalogs, and Internet interior design sites. Then -- no matter where you are -- make a point of paying attention to the things around you. When you visit friends or neighbors, notice the colors in each room and whether they suit the purpose of the room. Make a mental note of what you like and what you don't. Do the same thing in houses on display at home shows or even furnished houses that are up for sale.

Look to the walls first and notice how they function relative to the rest of the room. Are they design elements in their own right or are they the background for the furnishings and other elements?

Look next at the colors that have been used and their relationship to one another. Consider where the same or similar color schemes might work in your home. This will give you a sense of the numerous possibilities for expressing yourself.

You can sharpen your eye for color and design at the movies too. Movie sets represent the highest level of design expertise. They're created by experts, and there's nothing on a set, and no color chosen, without a specific purpose in mind.

As you pursue your color studies, jot down ideas that appeal to you, and keep a file of photos clipped from magazines and newspapers. You'll find colors you particularly respond to. Note whether they're light or dark, intense or muted. Consider what kind of rooms make you the most comfortable -- for example, traditional or ultra-modern?

Collect your notes and write down some general characteristics about the color scheme you think is best for your rooms.

Don't decorate to please anyone except you and your family. Take your time when selecting colors. Bring color chips home and when you believe you're close to a decision, buy a little paint (you can buy test-size quantities of many paints) and try it out on a test board. Even if you find you're slightly off the mark in your first choice, it's likely that the right color will be very close to what you selected.

Mixing options

Not all paints are created equal. Here's a quick review of some differences.

  • Factory finish: These are paints straight off the shelf from the manufacturer without the inclusion of any tinting or additives by the local paint outlet. Factory finishes are mixed in large quantities so you're pretty much assured that the color will be the same from can to can. They're also more resistant to fading.
  • Standard mixes: These are the paints that match the color cards in the store. They're not mixed until you choose them, but when they are, the proportions are strictly specified by the factory formulas. These are the most common paints, but since anything added locally can result in slight variations, boxing the paint before applying it to the walls is a good idea.
  • Custom colors: These are colors mixed by the local paint outlet to match specific requirements of the customer. Suppose, for example, you want to match the color of your carpet. Bring a color swatch from a surplus piece, and using computerized laser techniques, the staff can analyze the composition of the color and mix paint to match. Since these are considered special-order paints in most stores, expect to pay a little more for the time and expertise.
  • Accents: These are factory-prepared paints in pure, solid hues, rich in pigment. These paints are very durable and withstand fading better than other paints so they're excellent for sun-filled rooms. Their intensities are powerful, so use them in moderation.
  • Specialty mixes: This is a catch-all category that includes a variety of paints made to produce different surface textures -- crackles, suedes, pebbles, chalkboards, and light stuccos, among others.


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