A reader recently asked me if this piece of art (below) could be used as a jumping off point for a colour scheme in a living/dining/kitchen area.
First. This is exactly what y'all should be doing. Most people think:
"Once I get the wall colour nailed down, I'll be able to breathe," but as I've said — numerous times before — doing it that way is backwards.
Can it be done? Yes. But you'll find it hard to get excited about random colours you've selected to paint your empty room/house.
And of course if you're renovating your house, for most people, the last thing on your mind is the new furniture you'll buy at the end.
However, if you are in the fortunate position of already having SOMETHING you'd like to build your colour scheme around, then follow these steps to get it right:
1. Start with a pattern, a piece of art, anything that makes you happy when you look at it.
To start a colour scheme for a living room, I have sourced pillows first and I have also sourced area rugs first. I have found that it's easier to choose the throw pillow fabric first. You can also go more solid or calm on the floor if you can't find the area rug AFTER you've chosen pillow fabric but there are still soooo many options for area rugs that, in my experience it's harder to commit to that option first.
Does everything have to exactly match your inspiration piece? No. But it should look good with it
2. Find the throw pillow/toss cushion fabric.
3. Find a coordinating pattern.
4. Choose a solid in the brightest colour (if you like it).
5. If you have white in the fabric, add a white pillow or two.
6. Then find the undertone of the neutral in the pillow that has it and that's your sofa colour.
It's always looks better if the neutral in your major soft furnishings is repeated SOMEWHERE in your accessories, throw pillows, or area rug.
It's odd if you have a random pink-beige, green-gray, yellow-beige (or whatever) in the room either in an area rug or sofa and that's the ONLY place you can find the colour.
Or better yet, go with a colour (below).
1137 P&L Postal Blue
7. Then choose a colour from your inspiration piece for the chairs.
Or it could be white if it's in your colours scheme and you don't have kids, pets, a life — just kidding ; ) ; ).
8. Now you're ready to choose an area rug.
9. Now that you've got the basics, pillows, furniture and an area rug, you can choose colours:
Choose the undertone of the neutral as your main colour. This pretty greige can be found as a large sample in my set of Sherwin-Williams, 25 Essential Colours in Grays & Whites here.
This way, you can hold the sample behind your furniture first to make sure you've chosen the right colour.
SW 7028 Incredible White
10. Now you can choose a blue from your palette for your master bedroom or a darker navy for the dining room.
Obviously, there are literally hundreds of ways to choose a colour scheme for a living room but this is a simple way to save you from just showing up in one store and buying an entire matched set — don't do it!
What have you found that works for you?
How to Pick Paint Colours with Confidence (How I chose my Mom's colour scheme.)
If you would like help creating a palette for your home, become a client. Online or In-person.
To get your exterior colours right, download my How to Choose Exterior Colours with Confidence webinar and get my go-to list of colours.
To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!
And, if you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert.
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