As a new decorator and colour consultant many years ago, when I was asked to choose colours for an empty room or to decorate one, I would get a little freaked out.
I would look around desperately for inspiration and if I was standing in a room with wood flooring, I would latch on to the colour of the floor and make myself look really busy and important trying to find a colour to match it.
And since I was more of an expert than the person who had hired me, they (thankfully) did not seem to notice that I had no idea what to do.
If you are a homeowner or decorator faced with this same dilemma, where do you start?
I recently received this question from someone who had bought my ebook.
Question: I’ve inherited a house with pinky-oak wood floors and have selected a taupe with pink undertones to tie the space together. Am I making the right choice?
This question had me realize once again that this homeowner was likely starting from scratch with an empty house and they may have been thinking of doing the exact same thing.
In my True Colour Expert Workshops, we handle this question inside of colour consulting as many homeowners do not have the budget to hire a designer or decorator to help furnish their new home but they realize that wall colour takes up the most amount of square footage in anyones home and should not be taken lightly. Therefore, a colour consultant is often faced with the dilemma of choosing colours for an empty house.
First, to answer the above question you really just need to know that wood floors are like jeans. Unless you have red or orange floors and you want to paint your walls the same colours, wood flooring generally reads more neutral than any of the other fixed elements in your home.
So if you have an empty house with wood floors and are wondering where to start here are my best tips in no particular order. Just pick the one that works for you. There is no one, perfect way to decorate a room.
DO start in the kitchen
Unless you have the most neutral of fixed elements in your kitchen, usually there’s tile or countertops with 3-5 colours already. One of those colours should be your starting point.
Taupe walls and counters (source)
If you really can’t stand your countertops or tile or feel like they are not enough of an influence to build your colours around then keep reading.
DON’T choose your area rug last
It’s much easier to find a sofa and wall colour to coordinate with the rug you have just found than trying to find a $50 gallon of paint to match a $2000 sofa.
I’ve already narrowed down the choices for you here on my ‘Area Rugs I Love’ Pinterest board.
There’s nothing that frustrates a rug dealer more than a designer or homeowner who walks into their store with a pile of fabrics already selected for a space and they ‘Just need the area rug’. Because your choices will be very slim indeed.
If you can’t find a rug with a pattern to coordinate with your living room, you might end up getting one cut and bound instead. And there’s nothing wrong with going that route anyway.
DO start with a piece of art
‘Ya right’, you might be thinking, ‘I am just as lost trying to find a piece of art I love, as I am the thousands of rugs available on-line.’
If that’s you then don’t worry about it. This advice is for someone who has a piece of art tucked away somewhere and didn’t think it could be used as a starting off point.
The background of the painting might just be the perfect neutral or colour for your living room.
DO NOT choose a bunch of random colours for your empty house.
I did not choose one colour for my house without knowing which fabrics or art was going in each space first.
If you choose a random turquoise shade and now you want to find a duvet cover to match? You might end up with white out of pure frustration.
It’s much easier to get excited about colour when it relates to something already.
Knowing this makes it easier to sleep at night because if you are starting with a blank slate you may not be that excited about the one shade of beige or grey you’ll end up with instead.
DO choose your favourite colour for your sofa or upholstered chair/s
If you buy a charcoal sofa right now you might not be happy with it when the gray trend ends. Just like if you purchased a brown sofa during the brown trend you probably want a charcoal or white sofa right about now.
Better to choose a colour that you love and you’ll outlast the trends.
DO know that you might re-paint some rooms once you’ve decorated
If you like grey, decide whether you want a cool grey (blue undertone) or a warm putty grey (green or purple undertone) and just know that once you’ve established a colour scheme and selected sofas, drapery and carpets, you might re-paint the dining room to coordinate with your new palette.
Bottom line, it’s near impossible to choose colours inside a vacuum. If you must paint without any inspiration choose a neutral for the main rooms, colours for your children’s rooms and don’t stress about it.
After all, most of our homes evolve over time and can’t be planned in just one day if the paint goes up before anything else is selected.
Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones to learn how to get colour to do what you want.
To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!
If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.
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