6 Reasons to Go Bold with Color at Home… and How You Can Conquer Your Fear of Color, Too

published Mar 20, 2021
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Desert mural by Daniela Araya

When someone asks me what my secret sauce to designing my home is, the answer is simple: I use color at every chance I get. As much as I appreciate an all-white or a neutral color scheme, there’s something about going bolder and brighter that really resonates with me. Color is deeply rooted in my decor choices at home. It’s intertwined with my personal style, and it genuinely uplifts my mood, too. On cold New York winter days, the desert-inspired color palette in my living room (as seen above) transports me to a happier place. The same goes for my small home office; my painted squiggle patterns help me get excited about work (plus, the design makes for a cool meeting background on Google Hangouts). Looking back at every apartment I’ve lived in, I would always lean on color to help me create a bright, cheerful feeling in my home.

While using color to evoke a feeling in design might seem like an age-old trick, it can certainly feel overwhelming knowing where to start, especially if you’re a newbie to statement color schemes. If you’ve been wanting to dip your toes in designing with color though, here’s your chance. Read on for some of my best tips on how to create a colorful space you love that’s guaranteed to keep you energized.

Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Your home is your personal playground — at least that’s how I like to approach it. Sometimes design is all about trial and error, especially when you’re still trying to figure out your personal style and what works best in your space. I painted six murals (yes, six!) in my apartment during the pandemic. I might end up painting over them at some point, but they allowed me to express myself and brought so much life to my space once completed. The colorful walls around me are an instant mood lifter. If you’re hesitant about using paint or worried because you’re in a rental, then start small with maybe one accent wall that won’t feel as daunting to reverse if need be. 

Paint is your friend, but it’s not the only option.

I love paint and murals as much as the next person, but there are other ways to get creative with color at home… like in a kitchen. When I moved into my apartment, I was actually pretty impressed with the clean slate my kitchen provided: white cabinets and marble countertops. The piece I wasn’t so thrilled about was the dark wood backsplash. I knew I wanted something to pop in the kitchen, so I ended up adding pink adhesive subway tiles over the original wood. Adhesive tiles are a great way to add color to your kitchen, and this kind of update’s totally renter-friendly. You can also opt for brighter options for your smaller appliances, cookware, and tabletop pieces. It’s a small but playful way to bring vibrancy into a room where you might not normally think to do so. 

As for the rest of your home, there are plenty of other high-impact, more temporary, and lower-lift options than paint, too. From framed prints and colorful peel-and-stick wallpaper for your walls to a bold duvet in your bedroom or a fun shower curtain in the bath, think about your largest surfaces to make an instant impact. 

Use mirrors to reflect color.

Always use mirrors to your advantage. Not only do they make a room feel bigger, but they can also reflect those pops of colors you’ve created throughout your home. I place mirrors in areas that I know can maximize the natural light coming in, like in my living room to bounce light from the windows all the way to the back of my apartment. 

Bring your favorite flowers inside.

Flowers add instant cheer and color in a room. Next time you’re passing by your local flower market or bodega, try picking up a few of your favorite blooms. Have fun with it! Pair a bouquet with a funky vase. If you don’t have anything colorful, a simple paint job will do the trick. You can usually get samples of any paint color for as low as $5 at your local hardware store, and a can of regular spray paint will work on plain glass, metal, and ceramic vases as well. 

Utilize decor pieces you already have.

Redecorating your space doesn’t always have to mean spending money to buy something new. Take a look at what you already have at home, and you’d be surprised at how you can work this into your new color-inspired design plans. I took advantage of this in my bedroom, specifically with styling my bookshelf. My partner and I have a lot of books at home, so one day I decided to grab some of the most colorful books and organize them neatly on our shelf to create a rainbow focal point. Now my wall radiates color, and I didn’t have to spend a dime. 

Don’t feel bad breaking the rules when needed.

When it comes to rules in design, I say go with your gut. Yes, this includes breaking rules if needed! I’m not saying design rules don’t work (they are very helpful), but I always recommend doing what feels right in your space. Mix colors and patterns! Blend old and new! The most important thing is that you’re creating a haven that you end up loving. My mom lovingly teases me about my admiration for color and quirky designs. Hey, I’ll take it! At the end of the day, it makes me happy. Your vision doesn’t have to be approved by anyone else, and that’s the beauty of designing your own home.