Real Life Design Lessons: 10 Tips from Room for Color

Every year, we host Room for Color, a contest looking for the most beautiful, colorful room in the world (the 2011 competition begins next week!) and our readers send us in entries filled with pics of their own wonderful rooms. But, along with the photos, they also share their advice, ideas and tips to help the rest of us successfully add color to our homes. I took a look back at our 2010 entries and gathered some inspiring images and real life advice...Advice from the entry shown above the jump, our 2010 winning room, Joshua's Vintage Primary: Be bold! ...But make decisions carefully. Take paint chips home so you can see what the color looks like in the actual space and lighting conditions. Keep your furniture neutral and add color through accessories. It will allow you to keep your furniture longer and change the look of your room later. Fabric is an easy, way to make a big impact, personalize your space and create a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. Don't be matchy-matchy; mixing colors, textures and patterns adds a sense of excitement and fun.

ch101311.jpegChristopher's "Chocolate, Cream & Orange" Room: Have no fear! I was looking for a masculine color that would contrast with the cream rug and furnishings and work with the orange and metal accents and decided upon Benjamin Moore Marshlands.

tim101311.jpegTim's "Yellow, Grey, Blue" Living Room: Pick the color combination you love and play with the different shades of these colors, either on wall, or fabrics for drapes and pillows, or area rug. Be bold on elements that are easy to change. That way, you can change the feel of your room easily over different seasons without big financial commitment. One trick I used for myself is to do pillows with different designs on both sides. When it's time to change from summer to fall, just turn the pillow around!

happy101311.jpegAnnalea's "Keep On The Sunny Side" Room: I like to vary up the shades used to make a room feel more authentic and layered. Instead of matching the exact color, play with different tones and levels of saturation. I wanted a wall color that would liven up the house during dreary Illinois winters, but could also serve as a neutral against many other colors. I tend to collect reds - from vintage finds to handmade goodies - and I loved the way they look against yellow. From there, I went with greens and blues to balance it all out. (And because it is just so darn pretty.) This space also needed to be livable for our young family of five. We wanted it to be vibrant and welcoming. It was done frugally and is easily adaptable.

ci101311.jpegMelanie's "The Chinoiserie Incident" Bedroom: Try everything and edit carefully. This room started with the wallpaper. The aqua and peacock are super gorgeous but the pattern is so bold it needed a strong compliment to provide balance. Orange was a natural choice. Keeping everything else simple was imperative. Black and white furniture and accessories help to ground the space.

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Jen's "Motley Missoni" Bathroom:
Any color can look sophisticated if you balance it with smart neutrals. Most people respond well to contrasts. I knew I wanted to paint or draw a pattern on the largest wall, but I was conflicted over the direction in which to go. I'm usually most attracted to patterns that are very repetitive and geometric, but the lopsided angles of this 110 year old building would have made for a lopsided pattern. Fortunately, I came across an amazing Missoni print, and I decided to use that as my inspiration.

egg101311.jpegDavid's "Robin's Egg Refresh" Bedroom: Be monolithic with color. If you're going to use a bold and saturated color, don't wimp out and paint just one wall. Carry around scraps of things that have colors you like when you go paint shopping. Bring home chips or sample jars and try out several choices before spending a lot of money on paint.

br101311.jpegJenn's "Vintage Natural" Bathroom: The age of my home meant that I wanted the bathroom to reflect the same aesthetic, so I chose a vintage-looking gray, and paired it against the vibrant green in the wallpaper, anchored by the freshness of the white. Most importantly, you have to know who you are before you can know what color - or how much color - you can live with. For me, less is more.

kitchen101311.jpegJacquie's "New Orleans" Kitchen: Pay attention to the values of the colors. Our kitchen is basically a primary triad color scheme of bright yellow trim, soft yellow walls, red/orange cabinets with light aqua blue doors.

happytoo101311.jpegJoi's "Color Me Happy" Room: I was inspired by the eclecticism of my favorite Domino magazine spreads! I used to be afraid to use color, but started paying close attention to my favorite photos and realized they ALL used color. I used these same pictures as inspirations for my own home and I soon fell in love with mixing all of my favorite hues. Go with your gut! If you like a color, use it. Forget the rules about matchy-matchy color schemes. Color evokes emotion and mixing your favorites can only make you even happier. : )

We're hoping you will take inspiration from the 2010 entrants above and share your most beautiful, colorful room with us this year. The 2011 Room for Color contest launches next week - stay tuned for all the details on how to enter, prizes and more!

Images: As linked above / all via Room for Color 2010

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