Peek Inside Stylish Interior Designs and Learn How to Use Color Like a Pro

stylish interior design in retro colors

Color plays a huge role in interior design. Choosing certain colors for a room can really make the space come together. But simply incorporating a few of your favorite colors into a room design isn’t enough to make it stylish and pleasing to look at. You need to select your colors thoughtfully and use them in ways that help them work well together.

If you’re new to interior design, it can be overwhelming. You have the freedom to do nearly anything you want with your home’s appearance, but that doesn’t mean every choice you make will look aesthetically pleasing. Here are some ways to properly use color, along with some stunning interior design photos for inspiration.

1. Start With One Color

interior design focusing on blue

When it comes to interior design, there are no bad colors, but there are bad color choices. You can start with a color you love and make the rest of your color choices match that color. Once you have a preferred color in mind, you can pay attention to the color wheel to help you determine what colors will work well with it.

If you choose a vibrant color like bright purple, you may want to use it as an accent color instead of having it all over the room. If you choose a neutral color like gray or a soft color like light blue, those colors can be used more frequently without being overwhelming.

2. Think About Complementary Colors

blue and orange complementary interior design

Complementary colors refer to colors that are on the opposite side of the color wheel from each other, such as yellow and purple, blue and orange, and red and green. At first, these color pairings might seem awful for interior designs since they contrast each other so much, but they can create a striking design if used correctly.

You shouldn’t just cover your entire room with red and green. That would look like a year-round Christmas decoration. However, you can use small amounts of one complementary color to make the other color pop. For example, a room with green walls could have a red furniture piece to create a unique pop of color. To make the complementary colors contrast less, you can use tertiary complementary colors, such as yellow-orange and blue-violet, red-orange and blue-green, or red-violet and yellow-green.

3. Use Analogous Colors

blue, blue-green, and green living room

If complementary colors are too bold for the design you have in mind, you may want to consider designing with analogous colors instead. Analogous colors are the ones that appear next to each other on the color wheel, such as green, blue, and blue-green. With this type of color scheme, all the colors work together instead of having certain colors pop.

For example, you could paint your walls blue and then use blue-green and green furniture as decorations to make everything go well together. To ensure the colors aren’t too overwhelming, you may want to use pale versions of the colors or mix in some neutral tones like white and brown.

4. Design With Warm or Cool Colors

bedroom design with warm colors

Similarly to analogous colors, you could focus on warm or cool colors to decorate a space. Warm colors include bold colors with lots of energy, such as red, yellow, orange, and any other colors on that side of the color wheel. Cool colors are the calm, relaxing hues that appear on the other side of the color wheel, such as blue, green, and purple.

By sticking with only warm or cool colors in a room design, the space will have a consistent feel throughout. Like analogous colors, these colors are all near each other on the color wheel, so they rarely clash with each other. However, too many warm or cool colors at once can be overwhelming, so breaking up the colors with neutral tones can be beneficial.

5. Use Monochromatic Colors

monochromatic pink living room interior

Monochromatic color schemes focus on one color, but they include various tints and shades of that color (lighter and darker versions of the color). This type of design works well for small spaces, such as bathrooms, so everything in the room matches without that one color becoming overwhelming. If you want to use monochromatic colors in a larger space, make sure you use a lot of tints rather than shades to ensure it’s easy to look at.

6. Don’t Forget About Neutral Colors

living room with neutral colors

We can’t ignore neutral colors in interior design. They go well with just about any other color and have a relaxing effect. An entirely neutral room, such as a space with grays, whites, and browns, is usually perceived as modern, stylish, and simplistic. It’s excellent for large spaces that are meant to feel calm.

While using only neutrals may work for some individuals, it can make the space feel too empty and impersonal for others. So, using mostly neutral colors with hints of vibrant colors in the furniture and decorations can help keep an area simple while making it a little cozier.

7. Create a Symmetrical Balance

symmetrical blue and white bedroom

Once you’ve settled on the proper color scheme for your space, you can focus on effectively incorporating those colors. One method is to make sure both sides of the room are balanced. Imagine there’s an invisible line down the center of the room. When adding one design aspect to one half, also add it to the other half when possible.

For example, if you have a mostly neutral space with a purple end table on one side, add a purple object of a similar size to the other side of the room to balance it out. This technique prevents one side of the room from overpowering the other.

8. Design Around a Focal Point

room design with fireplace focal point

Not every room needs to be perfectly balanced. Some people prefer to design their rooms with a specific focal point in mind. The focal point should be the object or area that your eyes are naturally drawn toward. When designing a space, that will likely be the largest or most colorful object in the room.

Once you’ve determined your focal point, use smaller objects and matching colors to decorate the space around it. For example, if you have a gorgeous fireplace that you want to be your focal point, add furniture items that are tilted toward the fireplace. The color of those items should go well with the bricks and design of the fireplace. Then, the colors and positioning of the room should naturally cause guests’ eyes to be guided toward that focal point.

9. Consider an Asymmetrical Balance in Certain Situations

simple asymmetrical room design

Some spaces might look better with an asymmetrical style. This could include having more of a certain color on one half of the room rather than trying to balance it out. For example, if you have a large, colorful furniture piece but not enough space to add something similar on the other side of the room, this can occur. Just remember that whichever side of the room is more colorful will be the area that most people look at first.

10. Make Certain Aspects Match

beautiful kitchen with green cabinets

Many people love having certain themes in rooms or even across their whole house. If you love a certain color scheme, there’s no harm in sticking to that in every room, as long as those colors aren’t too bold. You may also want to use the same lights, handles, or picture frames throughout the entire home.

Having one theme throughout the house requires a lot of consideration as opposed to designing every room individually, but it’s definitely doable. For example, if you want to have a fall foliage theme, you may want to design with hues that match the colors of autumn. Or, if you want a beach theme, you could focus on blues for the sea and yellows for the sun. Some people may even focus on certain shapes or images, such as a favorite animal.

11. Certain Colors Can Contrast

interior design with contrasting orange decor

While many people like their colors and designs to match throughout their entire home, sometimes it’s okay to have an item that contrasts everything else. Just keep in mind that whatever contrasts will stand out and be noticed first.

For example, you could include an object, shape, or decoration that differs from the items around it. That could include a vibrant square-shaped decoration when everything else is pale and rounded. It’s a bold choice, but it’s a great idea if you have a certain item in your home that you want to pop.

12. Consider the Emotional Effects of Colors

fancy dining room with red walls

The colors used in interior design can evoke certain emotions for you and your guests. Many people use that to their advantage when designing a space. For example, blue can make people feel relaxed, so it’s commonly used in places where people want a peaceful experience, such as the bedroom or bathroom.

High-energy colors, such as red and yellow, can lead to more stimulating feelings like excitement, creativity, and hunger. So, they’re best used in rooms where lots of people hang out, especially during social events, such as the dining room and entertainment room. However, vibrant colors should be used in moderation to avoid overwhelming your guests. By keeping the emotional effects of colors in mind, you can make your home more comfortable for both you and your visitors.

13. Lighting Is Part of the Design

gaming room with colorful LED lights

Keep lighting in mind when designing a space. The type of lighting and light fixtures you use could alter the colors of a room. If there’s a color or object you want to stand out, make sure you have bright lighting directed toward that area. Pay attention to the room’s natural lighting so you can have sunlight shine on specific objects during the day. Depending on the room’s vibes, you may even want to add colorful lighting to create a fun experience, such as in a video game room.

14. Look at Interior Design Examples for Inspiration

brown and green living room with natural materials

It’s okay if you don’t know what type of layout and color scheme you want right away. Sometimes, you need to see a room design you love to better imagine what you want your home to look like. Look up examples of interior design online and narrow down your search if you have specific color schemes in mind. Hopefully, some of the images above inspired you, but it can’t hurt to browse as many designs as possible to help you settle on the perfect setup and colors.