3 Common Color Missteps (And How to Fix Them)

published Mar 9, 2014
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(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)

Color warms, brightens and enlivens; it’s why we often advocate for its frequent use! Adding in color with accessories, furniture and art is an easy way to create a color palette that fits your personality. But sometimes small color mistakes can lead to unhappy design side effects in your home. Here are three common color missteps, and the easy ways you can redirect your home’s color palette back on track!

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(Image credit: Jill Slater)

PROBLEM: Too matchy-matchy
Have about three colors in your whole room, including fabric, art, furnishings and walls? That could be a bit too much of a good thing! Know that when you only stick to two or three colors in one space, the resulting design can feel flat and uninteresting — even if you’ve picked good colors! It can feel surprisingly boring, even if the colors are bright.

How to fix it: Next time you’re in the market for a new furniture piece, accessory or piece of art, consider choosing some other way it coordinates with your space (shape, size, pattern, awesomeness) rather than trying to match it with some existing color in your palette. You don’t need a ton of objects introducing new colors to your space; just a few small to mid-size items won’t change the overall direction of your color palette but will result in a more sophisticated, varied, not-too-matchy overall design. In the example above, you see lots of colors — in the art, accessories, lighting, throw pillows and furniture — mixing in the same room to create a sophisticated look.

(Image credit: Rebecca Proctor)

PROBLEM: Going overboard with color pops
It’s true, adding pops of color to a space can enliven a room, create cohesiveness and in general be an awesome way to make a boring room way more interesting. But going overboard with color on every surface and in every accessory and sprinkled from corner to corner can sometimes be too much. Lots of pops of color can keep the eye bouncing around a room, creating an effect that’s more dizzying than invigorating.

How to fix it: Scale back with purpose. Start with your largest planes of color — walls, rugs or big furniture pieces — then focus on visual balance in a room as you slowly bring back in color through carefully placing accessories. Cluster color in one spot like you would a collection if you can’t live without certain objects. As shown above, lots of colors in the throw pillows cluster on the sofa to visually create one pop of color.

(Image credit: Katie Gard)

PROBLEM: Not going bold enough
Have you ever had an idea for an accent color somewhere in your home, then got timid at the last second and settled for something more “safe”? How did it come out? There’s something watered down that happens when you play it too safe with color, and your home suffers for it.

How to fix it: Take a chance on a bold hue for a wall! Go a little bright on a DIY painted furniture piece. Grab that colorful throw pillow that feels like it could be too wild but you really love. But most importantly, if you’re going to go, go all the way. You can always scale things back, but give yourself the opportunity to make a mistake with a bold color — you might be surprised that it was actually just the thing to make a room’s look come together and stand out! In the picture above, a bright color (and pattern) could have been too much in a room with neutral-colored walls and furniture, but because it’s such a bold statement, it works!