Ask Maria: When is There Too Much Colour in a Room?

So, I’m finally ready to ditch the brown “leather” furniture set I bought when I was 24 years old. As you can see, I have a lot of colour in this room already (dark teal, purple, gold, cream, white, brown, light blue, black, etc).

I just purchased the rug through Wayfair and it looked more white in the pictures… but I love it, so I’m choosing to ignore that it doesn’t  match the white stone of the fireplace surround.

My friends (not designers, just know-it-all’s haha)are all telling me to buy 2 charcoal sofas (one for each side of the room). Since I read your blog religiously, I’m weary to purchase charcoal sofas… I would love to instead buy colourful sofas (either purple or blue) but I’m afraid it will be “too much”.

How do I know if I should just stick to a neutral or if I should go for colour? Can you help me with this?

What colour sofas should I buy?

Well first of all, the reason why charcoal is a terrible idea is because there is zero charcoal, nor is there even a stitch of any grey whatsoever, in your carpet.

If you have a carpet that already has 4 or 5 colours in it (in this case yellow beige, pinks, purples, blues, greens), this completely dictates your colour scheme.

If you ADDED charcoal to this particular colour scheme, then the answer would be YES, there’s too much colour in the room.

A colourful sofa, with some bookshelf styling using this inspiration photo (repeating the colours in the rug) which was styled and decorated by one of my True Colour Experts, Jennifer Reynolds!

So first, it was a great idea to choose the area rug first was a great way to create a starting point for this room.

I added a purple sofa with some coordinating throw pillows and a coffee table  (below).

Purple sofa | Tribal Pillow | Pink Pillow | IKAT Pillow | Coffee table

When is there too much colour in a room?

  1. A colour that is considered ‘neutral’ (for example, grey, brown, cream or white) is far from neutral if you install it in a room without that neutral repeated anywhere (just like we’ve just discussed).

In the first image with the brown furniture, the room has suddenly taken on a ‘New area rug, old furniture’ look and feel because there isn’t any brown in the area rug either.

2. When you have a room that has more than three colours in it. That’s when you end up with a look that says bohemian. Nothing wrong with that at all, it’s just the look you’ll have.

I recently had another reader who sent photos of her grey-on-grey living room and said “How can I add colour now that I have purchased a grey sofa, grey chairs and a grey area rug? I LOVE COLOUR.

The problem if you’ve gone this far with choosing neutrals is it starts looking bitty to suddenly start injecting colour only using pillows and accessories (because that’s all you’ve got left). You need to repeat the accent colour in small, medium and large gradations in order to create a finished and layered look.

Over to you my lovelies, I’d love to get your insight.

Why are most people so afraid of choosing a sofa that’s a colour? To have someone say to me “I love colour!” only to turn around and buy EVERYTHING grey just makes me sad.

Why is the default choice usually the trendy neutral of the moment?

If you have an Ask Maria question, clean up your room and take photos without flash and in good natural light. Please note, I’m looking for dilemmas that have not already been covered in the blog ‘What colour should I paint this room’ does not count 🙂 Email your photos here.

If you would like your living room to fill you with happiness when you walk in the door, take advantage of our ‘Get me Started’ eDesign package today!

PS. We’re preparing for Chicago and Dallas, we leave Sunday for two weeks! Dallas is totally sold out with a line up of people on the waiting list but there’s still still time to jump into Chicago, it starts Tuesday. Register here.

Related posts:

Which Colour Sofa Should You Buy?

Why a Colourful Sofa is as Timeless as Subway Tile

3 Ways to Inject Colour Without Going Bohemian











leave aREPLY

  1. Hi Jessica, If your husband prefers the blue and you don’t hate it, then use blue and make him happy. Purple, IMO, is sliding into the realm of pink which makes most men uncomfortable when used in a public space. Plus blue is a “classic” color that never really goes out of style. You can always accessorize with some purple which I suspect you will tire of before either of you tire of the blue.

    As far as the rug goes, I agree with several other commentors, it needs to be turned 90 degrees. Interesting color choices which should make you happy for at least another 10 years ~ maybe longer!

  2. Maria Killam

    I love your blog & have been reading for long time
    My concern its showing Not Secure on my computer ???
    This kept me from sending for the free paint color list.

    • Hi Ann, I asked my web guy about this and he says it’s a free report and that’s why it says that. If you were to buy something, our site is secure. Hope that helps, Thanks for following me, Maria