HOW TO SELECT AND USE COLOR FOR INTERIOR DESIGN & FASHION


I enjoy writing about topics that apply to both interior design and fashion. Fashion colors are closely related to interior design. My belief is that each takes a nod from the other. Fashionistas can apply their unique clothing style to their homes while home design lovers can interpret their home d├ęcor into stylish and sophisticated attire. This article focuses on the fun we can have with color at home or in fashioning an ensemble, and eliminates much of the guesswork.

Harley - Director of Inspiration
 Guidelines are the same for using color in interior design and for fashion. Some of us know the colors we like to wear that make us feel comfortable and at ease. However, when selecting colors for our homes, many of us get confused and conflicted. Finding the colors to make a space feel comfortable and welcoming can be overwhelming. Another group of us has no issues decorating our homes, but panic at the thought of selecting an appropriate outfit.   


My own solution, whether it’s a personal project or for a client, is to take my camera and my dog Harley on a long nature walk. As I stroll through each season’s expression of colors, I photograph the best natural combinations of hues, shades, and tones. I interpret my favorite photos, translating them into color groupings. This process applies either to creating a room’s design scheme or for putting together an outfit. Now, technology gives me a hand through a program called “Chip It”. Visit my Pinterest page for examples of my photos translated into color chips. (Thank you Sherwin Williams)

Keep in mind that the look and sensibility of colors change in various lights and during different times of day. This applies to interior design as well as fashion. Color will appear truer in natural light, and can appear totally different in the evening in artificial light. So don’t try to copy nature, but rather, recreate the feeling and its effect.



Color Theory:  

You don’t have to know color theory to create a dynamite fashion look or spectacular home. For those of you interested, this is a good introduction. Otherwise, skip this section and read the next: Simple Tips for Selecting and Using Color.

All colors are derived from three primary colors: yellow, blue and red. Mix the primary colors together and you get secondary colors: orange, green, violet. Mix the secondary colors and you get the tertiary colors: red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange, red-orange.

Colors in the red/orange area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colors are vibrant, exciting, and warm. Colors on the blue/green side of the spectrum include blue and green. They’re cool, tranquil, and calming.


Analogous colors - three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, with one of the three usually being dominant over the other two. Together, they give a cohesive look.

Complementary colors - directly opposite each other on the color wheel, such as red and green and orange and blue. Complementary colors create maximum contrast with vibrancy and excitement.
Triadic colors - three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. Choose a color, skip three colors to get your next choice, then skip three more to get your third. When using the triadic color scheme, keep colors balanced by choosing one dominant color and using the other two for accents.
Buy A Color Wheel:
Click on Image

Buy yourself a color wheel and play with the different combinations. Then go to your local paint store and buy sample pints of paint and experiment right on your walls. You’ll have the opportunity to experience the color in a variety of light conditions before making the final decision and investment.
Want to use all the colors of the rainbow? In your home, I believe in limitless color, but I do insist that there be cohesiveness amongst different rooms, and a logical transition from one adjacent room to another. Love decking out in rainbow attire? Wear multiple colors with the correct scale to achieve balance.


Nature is able to mix many different colors so that each is distinct, yet none seems out of place. We can achieve the same.


Simple Tips for Selecting and Using Color:

1.      Colors next to each other on the color wheel are always compatible. For example, wear a blouse in red, and slacks or skirt in red-orange. Paint a wall in yellow-orange and use orange upholstery for a sofa or pull up chairs.

2.      The safest use of bright colors is to select one, and the rest neutrals. For example, wear a royal blue blouse and slacks or skirt in white or beige. For your home, paint your walls a neutral color and select a favorite color (like red) for furnishings; or paint a wall a blue-green and select neutral furnishings.

3.      Opposites attract. Cool colors mix with warm and vibrate together. Wear a violet dress with yellow shoes, bag, and accessories. Paint walls a yellow-green and accessorize with red-violet.

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