5 Color Rules Worth Breaking

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You know what they say about rules, right? Around here we like to think of them more as loose guidelines. Whatever you call 'em, here are five that you may want to break from time to time, you color crazy kids.

1. 80:20 — This is the idea that adding color comes down to the percentages: 80% neutral and 20% color (Maxwell explains it further right here). It's an easy formula when trying to decide just how much color to use in a space. But check out the blue room below where the formula is closer to 20:80 — it's packed with color and it works beautifully. So if you love lots of color, go all in.

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2. Avoid "themed" color combinations — Sure, red and green (below) may suggest a certain winter holiday, but one day in December doesn't get to bogart whole sections of our color options. Used correctly, even the most recognizable combos can look fresh and unique.

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3. To get the most bang for your buck, pick a punchy (high value) color — When considering color, many people think that saturated hues will give them the best results. But take a look at the light blue walls below. A brighter or deeper shade would also look good, but for the style of the room, this is perfection. It's still color, just more casual and calm.

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4. Flow a common color from one room to the next — You may have heard this advice about making your space more cohesive, but ignoring it may be even more useful. Using color to visually define rooms (or sections of a room — handy in a studio or loft), is a simple yet high-impact trick.

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5. Neutral means beige — Wrong! Neutral colors are any that contain both warm and cool tones. Beige is one, but it's certainly not the only one. The muted sage below is a perfect example of a non-boring, colorful neutral. With beige walls, this room would be blah, but change the shade just a touch and it becomes sophisticated, layered and beautiful.

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(Images:1.Lisa's entry, 2008 2.Thomas Loof for Architectural Digest via Casa Diseno 3.Mark's entry, 2011 4.Bernd's entry, 2011 5.Polly's entry, 2012 6.Kelly's entry, 2012 )

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Jennifer is the Assistant Editor at Apartment Therapy where she spends her days writing and thinking about decor, food and fashion in NYC. Not too shabby.

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