How to Assemble an Interior Design Palette

Congratulations, you’re a homeowner! Ready to decorate, you head to your local paint store, where a gorgeous array of colors awaits you. But, after a while, all the shades and pre-selected palettes start to blend together. You have a stack of paint samples, but no idea how to take the next step. Choosing a color palette first can help you with the many decorative decisions you will face as you decorate your new home.

What Exactly Is a Palette?

A palette refers to a group of colors, and it can be as limited as two or three. A palette usually has light, middle, and dark tones, often from the same color family. Medium to pale shades work well on walls and cabinets, and the lightest colors enhance molding and trim work. There are exceptions to every rule, though, so don’t worry if you see something you like that doesn’t fit traditional color use rules.

Where to Start?

Consider a few key points when you start putting together your palette. What colors do you have in your house already? Furniture finishes and fabrics—even the color of your linens and kitchenware can point you in the right direction. Do you have a favorite sofa or painting? You can choose a few colors from it to create the palette for that room. Try taking a picture of it with you when you shop for paint and carpet to help narrow down your choices. Use any and all of your favorite decorative elements to create a unique home design with a palette you love.

Beyond the Basics

If you’re stuck, look for ideas in home décor magazines or where you buy paint. There are often ready-made palettes that take out some of the guesswork. Colors are often grouped by color “temperature.” There are warm tones, like dark reds and soft ivories, or cool tones like whites and navy blues which complement each other when used in a design. Neutral palettes work well with both warm and cool tones. And, finally, there are all kinds of variations: lights shades, dark tones, muted colors and soft pastels.

Make sure to keep in mind your budget and how long you plan to be in your house. Paint, carpet, and other décor items are long-term investments into your home. If you know you’ll be selling in a few years, often a white or neutral palette makes a home more accessible to prospective buyers. If you’re in it for the long haul and are longing to really personalize the space, then try out the colors you love. You can always pick a new palette if you change your mind.

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