Tips for Creating a Stylish Color Scheme - dummies

Tips for Creating a Stylish Color Scheme

By Katharine Kaye McMillan, Patricia Hart McMillan

Selecting a color scheme for your interior design project can seem like a difficult test of your decorating ability. An easy way out is to choose a decorating style that comes with a particular color, distinct color palette, or strongly suggested color direction. Some examples include:

  • City Chic: Think neutral colors, black, white, and beige in luxurious, high-quality textures. Polished chrome, steel, and woods with plenty of sheen and shine add to the glamour. Because colors are muted in this sophisticated, tailored style, texture is supreme; therefore, textiles have woven (not printed) patterns.

  • Coastal Life: Blue and white seems so right. This Greek Islands approach adds healthy doses of summer-sky blue to a mostly pure-white background. Adding rustic wooden accents, textured textiles, and glazed and decorated pottery makes this look even warmer.

  • Country Cottage: Ruffles and flourishes in the form of dressmaker details (pleats, ribbon, welting, and other trim) distinguish this feminine and pretty look. Colors run the gamut of pastels, both warm and cool. Floral patterns abound, smaller scaled and less imposing than the English Country House look that’s a rich kissing cousin.

  • Country French: Earthy textures and bright calico patterns found in the fabrics make this look enduringly popular. Colors are strong: mustard, rusty red, indigo, and grass green. Fabrics stand up well against white plaster walls. The same patterns in wall coverings make definite style statements for walls.

  • English Manor: Floral bouquets abound in this classic traditional style based on English country homes. The jewel-tone colors in brilliant reds, yellows, blues, greens, purples, and oranges are found in the chintz floral bouquet fabric used for draperies, upholstery, and to-the-floor tablecloths.

  • Lodge Look: The American West version of this style gets its color direction from American Indian rugs’ strong reds, blues, and earth tones. Use rugs on the floor or, in a contemporary way, as upholstery. Western art cowboys and Indian chiefs also provide color direction. The East Coast Adirondack fishing-camp version uses lots of twig furniture, braided rugs, and typical Autumn-in-New England harvest colors in golds, reds, and strong but softened greens. (Don’t forget the birch bark canoe!)

  • Shabby Chic: This faded-glory style paints everything within sight antiqued white and softened to ivory or linen white which resonates strongly with lovers of genteel furnishings that appear to have seen better days. Your paint job doesn’t have to be high quality; the more chips, nicks, and dents the better. If your scheme seems color-starved, add discreet accents.

  • Sun Country: This Contemporary Country style brings American Country up to date, using clear, light, bright, spring and summer colors. No deep pumpkins and russets here. Look to the flowers of spring and summer for a color palette. Simple linens and cottons in solid colors underscore the serenity found in this country-house style.

  • Villa Style: Think Old World Tuscany made famous by its earthy, well-weathered gold- and rust-colored stone or plaster walls. These are earth tones with panache. Dark, rich, and rustic woods augment this solid, Mother Earth look with its wrought iron accents and beautifully woven tapestries.