This Two-Second Formula Will Help You Choose What Colors to Decorate With

published Jun 12, 2021
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Credit: Rikki Snyder

The Small/Cool Experience is a shoppable online home design showcase and social event full of decorating tips and tricks from your favorite designers. Check out the whole virtual experience online and at @apartmenttherapy on Instagram from June 11-13. Thank you to our sponsors BEHR® Paint, Genesis G70, LUMAS, Overstock, Tuft & Needle, Chasing Paper, and Interior Define for making this experience possible.

When you’re staring at blank white or “builder beige” walls, it can be overwhelming to pick a color palette for your decor, let alone one that feels harmonious. Does choosing a shade of green paint you (literally) into a corner? If you choose all blacks and whites, does that mean you need to stick to neutrals going forward? What color even goes with blush pink?

Luckily, Small/Cool designer David Quarles IV has a genius tip formula getting started. During the Small/Cool Experience, Quarles sat down with Apartment Therapy’s Home Director Danielle Blundell to give behind-the-scenes details about his “Make it Maximalist” room and share decorating tips for anyone who wants to emulate his gorgeous style.

His room is packed with vibrant colors: BEHR’S Saffron Strands paint, blue-green velvet curtains, rosy patterned wallpaper, and so much more. So what’s his formula to help anyone get started in a similarly adventurous color palette? Pick “two warm [colors], two cool, and a neutral.” That’s it!

Credit: Rikki Snyder

Warm colors tend to be reds, yellows, and oranges, while cool colors are those blues and greens. Some colors, like green and purple, are hybrids (think of how cool a Kelly green is, compared to a lime green!). Neutrals are — you guessed it — browns and beiges. As for black, white, and gray, black lends a warm vibe, while whites and grays are cooler.

So, a formula based on Quarles’ advice might be: mustard yellow + rust red + sage green + dove gray + stone. They sound so random, but can’t you just picture them coming together beautifully?

As part of his in-depth tour of his Small/Cool room, Quarles shared the other strategies he used for nailing the colors and design of his room. First, he was inspired by music, specifically “Yolo Yolo” by Seyi Shay. His second strategy is one you likely can’t copy, but it’s still fascinating: Quarles has chromesthesia, which means when he listens to a song, he sees color. No wonder his room is bursting with vibrant tones!

To hear even more from Quarles, be sure to watch his whole conversation with Danielle below!