How To: Build Color Into a Neutral Palette

How To: Build Color Into a Neutral Palette

Laure Joliet
May 15, 2009

Way back when I entered the Smallest Coolest Contest in 2007, I had a dark brown danish modern sofa with blond wood. I had hardwood floors and a white flokati rug. And a white table. All in all, it was a lot of brown, lighter brown and white. I love color so I was a little bit surprised to see such neutral shades show up in my own home. But when I thought about adding color, I got paralyzed. I didn't even know where to begin...

Beyond having a couple of throw pillows in various shades of green and blue, I didn't really know how to build a color palette. It was daunting, I felt afraid of making mistakes. But recently I ran across an image in Elle Decor UK that reminded me of what I've learned since then.

Layer Color and Pattern:
If you take away the bold flower pattern, painting and bright orange lampshades, you're really left with somethig similar to what I had going on a coupe of years ago. Without those pieces of the puzzle, there's some texture but not a lot of pizazz.

Don't worry about being matchy matchy:
The orange, the green, the purple, the browns; they don't really match, but because they're layered along with the fun texture of the sheepskin pillow and natural grass floor pillows, they work with each other to build a whole picture.

Just start somewhere:
It's not likely that the person putting this vignette together had a finished picture in their mind when they started, but by sticking with colors you already know you love, or bold patterns that you've been admiring for a while, you can rest assured that you won't hate the colors that you start with. And as you start building up colors you'll see how they work with one another.

Have fun with the process:
My home is a work in progress, not a week goes by that I don't rearrange something or bring back a find from the local Salvation Army, so now I know that if I'm not in love with something, it will have a chance to shift. This gives me more space to take risks, because I know I won't have to live with something forever. Sometimes a big poster, a bold piece of fabric or the pillows from upstairs moved downstairs can change the way I thought of a room and give me ideas for the future.

small>(Image: Elle Decor UK)

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