Color is kind of tough, if we're being honest. Or more accurately, a lot can go wrong when attempting to use color in your home, even with the best of intentions. Here are ten of the most common color mistakes at home — and how you can fix them.
1. Not considering light
Without light, color wouldn't be much to look at. And as much as the right light can make a color sing...it can also make a gray go lavender or a white look dingy. Before painting a wall, use a sample painted or taped up to view your potential new color in all light of the day — as well as artificial light. If a color you thought would work doesn't, take it back to the paint store and explain to someone working there which type of light made the color go wrong — someone with the right experience should be able to point you in the right direction.
2. Mixing too many colors at once in the wrong balancesThere's no official limit of how many colors are allowed in one room. But the saying "the more the merrier" doesn't always apply when it comes to color. Want to know whether or not you have too much color mixing in one room? The room will feel the opposite of peaceful — sometimes it even feels like it's closing in. You can eliminate colors until you start feeling balance. Or you can pay attention to the amount of each color you use (aim for one or two primary colors and a handful of secondary, accent colors), as well as where the colors are located (spread around evenly to carry your eye through a room).
3. Being too matchy-matchy with your color palette
4. Not creating a cohesive homeAnd this is the opposite of having too matchy-matchy of a color palette! Every room of your home can be done in a different style and color palette if you want to. But if you're feeling like your home is a mess or too hectic or you just want to make more peace, you might consider creating more cohesion with each room. Not necessarily using the exact color palette in every room (because then you'd be too matchy-matchy), but having colors that you can view from another room complement. Adding in an accessory in a primary color from another room. Create tie-ins so that your home feels like a total package, and not just a few disconnected parts.
5. Not giving the eye places to rest
6. Playing it too safe
7. Using the wrong finish/sheen
8. Not applying it properly
The great thing about using barely-there, light neutral colors on your wall is that the borders and edges are nearly invisible — you can mess up without much worry of it being very obvious. But mess up the edge where a bold accent wall meets the ceiling? That sort of thing can be seen from space. When applying intense colors, spend extra time on the prep work of taping off, and splurge on tried and true tools to get the job done correctly.
9. Going too bright/harsh
There's a phenomenon that people who paint bold colors on walls come across often. And that's choosing the perfect paint color sample, putting it up on the wall, and it being WAY too bright. Much harsher than you would have imagined. If you try out a sample and the same thing happens, don't give up on the color, just get it lightened a few steps to be a little more palatable.
10. Not considering how you actually want the room to feel
The way a room looks has a lot to do with the way a room feels. And liking a color doesn't mean you'll like the way you feel when you're surrounded by four (or more) walls of it. I personally love the look of bold reds and other strong colors, but it's not what I want to wake up in (or try to fall asleep to). Magic happens when you combine colors you love the look of with a way of creating a feel in a room that does just what you want it to, whether that's energize you or calm you down.
What are color mistakes you've made in the past, and how have you fixed or worked around them? Let us know in the comments below!
- Re-edited from a post originally published 9.28.2014 - CM