Color Rules: 4 Very Versatile Colors for Any Room

Losing sight of your emotional goal is a mistake often cited when homeowners choose the wrong color for a room. If you're after a calm room, the experts say, you'll have to stay away from your favorite color red. But the truth is, just like people, colors can surprise you. Here are more than a dozen rooms where the vibe of the room goes against the conventional color personality.

Some colors can't change their stripes, so to speak. White always makes a room more open and airy, and a touch of pink seems to make even the most masculine room instantly more femme. But these four colors seem to be more versatile, in both big and small doses. It goes to show that even if calming blue is your favorite shade, you can still use it to make a room more vibrant. (The secret for balancing all of these moody colors? Lots of white.)

1. Black can make a room feel smaller, but black can also be cheerful and airy.

The rules for black:
  • Ease in with shades of gray.
  • Show a lot of floor.
  • Keep other elements cheerful, feminine and bright.
  • Balance black with white.

2. Red adds a lot of energy and passion, but red can be calming in the right space.

The rules for red:
  • Use small doses.
  • Try less saturated shades.
  • Keep everything else white.

3. Blue makes a room more calming, but blue can also be energetic and lively.

The rules for blue:
  • Go electric with accents.
  • Choose a bright blue or turquoise.
  • Keep everything else white.

4. Brown is a cozy and dull color, but brown can be bright and open.

The rules for brown:
  • Use brightly colored accents.
  • Let in tons of natural light.
  • Keep the ceiling and trim white

(Image credits: Diego Alejandro Design; Houzz; Phillip Nimmo Design; M House Inc; Pinney Designs photographed by Ben Gebo; Niche Interiors; Houzz; Design Manifest; Irvin Serrano; Mary Wyar; Maria Killam; Ashley Roi Jenkins Design photographed by Ed Ritger; Shelly Kirsch)

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Taryn is a writer, maker, and designer in Atlanta, Georgia. Living in an apartment with her husband and their Boston Terrier, Bacon, she loves to entertain and hates having a tiny kitchen.