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Give colors a chance

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

Before I became an illustrator and surface designer, I did an apprenticeship as an interior decorator specialised in upholstery and soft furnishing.

It was back in 1999 until 2003 and the home decor trends were still heavily inspired by the 90s and the ridiculous amount of beige everything. Most of our clients back then were playing it safe within the trend and I saw enough boring beige, cream and white curtains and sofas to last a lifetime. Our shop had a wide array of very colorful fabric samples and colorful, bold prints that had me dream of doing my future home all in colors yet I think about 1% of our clients would consider these.

I would have blamed it on trends then, but if time has taught me anything, is that most people will play it VERY SAFE within any given trends. The beigy-beige of the 90's and Y2K era just gave space to the era of "Everything grey", a commercial even safer than beige tone family and if you ask me, quite boring on its own, and I currently have a dark grey sofa (don't judge!).

I know now that people shy away from colors because they are afraid to screw it up. Color theory is not something everybody is well versed into and there is that fear that what is popular now will not age well, or look so bad in your home that it's better to leave it alone entirely.

I'll let you in on the professional insider tip though :

NOTHING stays timeless and there will ALWAYS be a moment at which something will not age well.

BUT! Like the Phoenix, trends die only to be reborn from their ashes a few decades later and the cycle goes on and on. Hello mid-century modern revival and cottagecore!

You should always go for home decor that you like and take any trends with a huge pinch of salt (or rather a whole tablespoon). If you like colors, give them a chance, and don't worry about screwing it up, because thanks to the marvellous invention that is the internet and the surge in home decor blogs and Instagram accounts, you'll get all the help you need if you are color wheel challenged.

I think it's pretty clear from the vibe of this website and my designs that I love turquoise, pink and mint tones. In my home decor I also like white, and pretty much every shade of blue and my style is pretty modern and minimalist with splashes of colors everywhere. Before we got that grey sofa, I had a velvet peacock blue one, which was old and worn out and had to go. But the rest of my decor is so fun and full of colors that one grey couch is not looking as boring.

My advice is to first start with white walls. I live in rental so it's pretty much my default for walls, but even if you own your own place and are a newbie at venturing in the world of colors, go with neutral walls. If you can, also keep your furniture in neutral colors, as I said, I prefer white, but we also have some natural wood around.

With those basics and neutral big items, playing with colors will be a lot less scary because the color splashes will pretty much just come from the textile items like curtains, bedding and throw pillows and thing like wall art and small decorative items. Those are all small items that you can get rid off and change if you end up hating them or simply want a change of decor. They are also quite affordable and you will find colorful soft furnishing and decorative items for every budget.

The second step is to decide WHICH colors you want in your space and start looking at how they go together. In the basics of color theory you can either work with analogous colors or complementary colors.

A complementary color pair is always a primary color (red, blue or yellow) paired with the secondary color directly opposite on the color wheel. This means red pairs with green, blue with orange and yellow with purple. Complimentary colors offer a very SHARP contrast so if bold is not your thing, you might want to soften then a bit with softer tones.

Analogous colors are colors that are side by side on the color wheel and they usually flow into one another. I typically use analogous color combination in my decor and in some my designs and illustrations as well : Mint and turquoise are basically greens drifting into blue, and the blue drifts into the purple and pink. The Home Cyn Home signature mint and pink palette is actually a COMPLIMENTARY palette, Mint belongs to the green family and pink to the red family, but because they are pastel tone, the contrast is a bit toned down.

If you go with mostly analogous tones, like for example an interior that is blue and blueish-purples, my advice is to introduce a complimentary color as well, in small doses. In this case the color would be a yellow or orange hue, and it can be a pastel tone to make the contrast more harmonious. The reason being that an all blue can really become too monotonous and cold. Altgernatively, you can play with different hues in the same family. Navy blue pairs well with other lighter blues on the green or purple side of the spectrum. The key to a successful colorful decor is to NOT be all matchy matchy.

if you ask me this is the rule to ANY home decor, the matchy-matchy beige from the 90s and the grey overload we have right now is also pretty boring, precisely because it all matches oh too well.

Still scared? Pick 2 colors you love to start with, and stick to those color family to buy your decor accents, without being obcessive about all the shades matching. If you like blue, just pick blue items without worrying about them matching what you already have. Chances are it will match anyway because we are all wired to like certain colors over others and certain tones within that color family. Personally, I will always pick a turquoise or a lovely sky blue over a Prussian or cerulean blue. But if by any chance I end up finding a really cool cushion in those lesser used tones, they will still match the lighter blue and blue green I have around.

take baby steps

If your home is all neutrals and you still feel on the fence about using colors, simply out of fear of messing it up (you won't) start small. For example you might want to just start with putting a colorful tablecloth on your dinning table and find chair covers in a similar tone. Or, you could start with just a few cushion on the sofa that match the artwork you already have on the wall. Then, as you go, you can build on that and add curtains that falls in the color palette you are working with, or upgrade your photo frames to match, or introduce a few colorful decorative vases and bowls. Building your decor over time is totally an option, do not feel you have to just go for one giant makeover and then learn to love it right away. Doing one giant makeover when you are a colorful home decor newbie is actually very scary...don't feel like you have to do it, because you truly don't have to.

If for any reasons you grow bored of your decor scheme, change it, place all those pillow covers and trinkets in boxes and explore a new theme, you don't have to have a lifetime commitment to your color palette and if you went in with neutral walls and furniture, the fix is going to be quite inexpensive...heck you can even change the mood of your home each season by introducing different colors all thorough the year, fellow home decor blogger Rukmini and her brand Trumatter is the queen of dressing up her French farmhouse decor to go with each seasons. And, always remember, even if you end up painting your walls or funriture : It's JUST a little paint, if you don't like it, paint over it. Just the same as if you hate a certain throw pillow cover or blanket, just CHANGE them. Donate what no longer works for you and move on. But I beg you my dear, do not stay away from colors in your home if your only reason is that you are afraid to mess it up.

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