Guest Post: Picking a Color Palette for Your Home

Interior designer and color expert Jennifer Ott walks us through how to choose a color palette for your home.
Selecting paint colors for the inside of your home can be one of the most daunting home design tasks to take on. This is because you have an almost limitless selection of colors to choose from, it can be tough trying to decide on the perfect hue. Another common challenge with picking paint colors is that, in our desire to select interesting or unusual hues, we often end up with colors that are “off” or downright garish. This doesn’t mean you should just give up and play it safe with white, however. Here are some simple tips for picking colors for your home.

Find inspiration around you. So with the numerous options available for paint color, how do you even begin the task of picking a color or colors? I recommend heading straight to your closet and taking stock of the color palette of your clothes. Scarves and bathing suits in particular come in fun colors and are therefore useful for determining one’s color preferences. Favorite works of art are another good source for clueing you in on colors you love. Those with boards on Pinterest can check for a common color among items pinned.
popofcolorGo big and bold. If you are a fan of big, bright and bold color, consider using it in ways that won’t overwhelm a space, such as via a small accent wall or textiles and decorative accessories. I typically advise clients to stick to neutral colors for materials or items that are expensive or difficult to change out, such as large pieces of furniture, flooring, etc., but then feel free to push the color limits for things that are more affordable to tweak every few years or so, such as paint, pillows, throws, and other accessories.jencolor2Neutral can still be interesting. Not everyone wants to be surrounded by vibrant color, and I take great pleasure in working with design clients who want to stay on the light, muted and neutral end of the spectrum, but who are also open to considering hues beyond the ubiquitous white and beige. Gray has become popular in home interiors, and what I like about gray is that there are so many different shades to choose from – from warm taupe-like grays, to cooler grays that veer toward green, blue or purple.

Keep in mind that “neutral” doesn’t have to mean light. A deep dark blue hue such as navy or indigo works well with many other colors — from all other neutrals, to more vibrant hues such as chartreuse, turquoise, or red raspberry.
jencolor3Pulling it all together. If you want to inject fun color into a space but are worried about taking it too far, think about using an analogous color scheme – in which you select colors that are next to one another on the color wheel, such as orange and yellow, or green and blue. You can mix together various tints (color + white), tones (color + gray), and shades (color + black) of each hue, but as long as you limit it to just the two analogous hues, along with neutrals, it will look colorful but reigned in and not too busy.

Another trick for a colorful yet harmonious interior is to select colors that are complementary to one another on the color wheel (blue and orange, green and red, or purple and yellow) but, for one of those hues, go with a darker or bolder color, and for the other one, go lighter or muted. This will give you fun, interesting color in a room while keeping it tasteful.

In the end, you should select colors that you love, regardless of the latest trends. Be open and on the lookout for color inspiration that is all around you and you will likely find your winning hue.



I have often heard that the foyer/entryway to your home sets the tone for the entire house so it should introduce colors that are repeated elsewhere in the home. Do you agree with this? I am re-doing my foyer and living room which are close but separated by stairs. I plan to stick with a neutral rug and paint in the foyer does that mean anything goes as far as the living room?

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