Designers Coffeehouse — Interior Color Schemes

The virtual café is back!

So sit with me a spell, and drink in some tips from our expert, interior-designer friends. Today we
chat with:

Designer Color Scheme

HomeWorkshop: When creating a color scheme for a space, do you aim to match OR
coordinate colors
for the various elements?

What if some colors are close, but not a perfect match?

Peggy Berk: Color is such a powerful tool in interior design, affecting every element of design, and affected by so many variables – from the type and source of lighting, and the size of the room, to the textures of surfaces, fabrics and other finishes – that I shy away from a generalized approach to the components of a scheme.

I tend to use a lot of color in my interiors and usually develop my schemes by mixing color on a watercolor palette, in much the same way I would if I were preparing to paint.

The starting point is always the the individual culture of the client and the desired mood, but a
“live mix” of color will often yield some wonderful surprises and insure that harmonious undertones will integrate the scheme well.

The only time I approach color with the idea that a group of elements should match exactly is when I’m using color strategically, for example when it might be the sole means of defining a traffic lane or moving people from an entry to a particular point in the room.

Designers Coffeehouse Color WheelIn those instances we’re relying on the brain’s natural inclination to “connect the dots” and so the associative color points should match.

DeAnna Mackensen: When it comes to picking out a color scheme for your room the process can be very confusing (for many people).

Look for inspiration in artwork, a rug or textiles. I take photographs of the textiles, artwork and fabrics in the space. I study them carefully and come up with a custom color palette that works for the client.

I do not necessarily “match” a color in the space.
It isn’t necessary to have colors match perfectly. I tend to coordinate colors that are within the same family.

When choosing paint color, base it on your color scheme and remember that LIGHT is the primary factor in choosing a paint color. Now go have fun with color!

Toni Sabatino: When I am working on a project, I try to find some true inspiration for the
color scheme.

In a residential home, I like to take that inspiration from a client’s special piece of art, or love of nature or even their wardrobe. I like the colors to “dress” the client well and make her (or him) feel attractive and comfortable.

Once I have a general scheme, I love to use varying shades of the same color instead of matching a color for several elements. I feel that varying the shades creates a softness and interest that is missing from a true color match.

I think of the leaves on a tree or each blade of grass or subtle colors of the sand at the beach all complementing each other in nature. I love the harmonious feeling it gives me and I enjoy finding ways to incorporate that depth of color into my designs.

How do you approach creating a color palette or scheme for your designs? Comment below to join in this vibrant conversation!

Read past stories in the Designers Coffeehouse Series:

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2 Comments for “Designers Coffeehouse — Interior Color Schemes”

Thanks for including me in this roundup of designer views, Kathy. Great reading!

Of course, Peggy! It’s great that you mix a watercolor palette as a starting point. Was just doing that the other day for one of my fabrics. I know exactly what you mean about a “live mix.”

Fantastic to see how each of you approaches color.

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