color theory 101 : making the switch

I know it’s been a while since our last color theory series installation-but we’re back!

If you missed the first parts of our series, so far we’ve discussed the basics of color theory in art and how they apply to your home, choosing colors for your home, and doing white right.

Today I wanted to talk about how to make a successful switch when changing out the colors in our homes.

I received an email recently from a sweet gal named Georgia. She wrote this:

I would love to make the switch from my all brown, all taupe, all leather, all dark circa 1998 home. I can totally relate to your sofa debacle. It’s time to lighten up, do a few updates, and I simply do not know where to start. I painted one wall with about three versions of blue, and it just doesn’t look right. I love blue. But it’s not working. I need some good advice and I’m hoping you can help me. Please help! Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me!

It’s all about making the switch. Whether you’re going from dark to light, light to dark, warm to cool, or ready to mix up your colors in general, sometimes it’s a little beyond our comfort zones. It can be a hard one to tackle. You may know what you like, but aren’t sure where to begin. And once you change one dynamic in a space, it’s like a domino effect. This can sometimes be overwhelming for people. I know. I’ve been there.

The key is, and I know I’ve touched on it before {read: rambled like an incessant freakazoid} is to carry it through. And today, I thought we could cover our bases in a simple breakdown of elements to watch for.

Let’s establish this in terms of color. It’s all about the concept of balance.

Take the last part of that definition, and we’ll break it down into three simple elements to carry out in all your spaces and your homes

1. Paint : We’ve discussed it before, but sometimes when we add color to our walls, if it stays contained, it’s hard to carry it throughout the rest of our home, as well. Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little with that tattered table that may have been sitting there a bit too long. A bed that can use a fresh dose of color, or even your fridge. {Just sayin’.} Paint is the most forgiving medium! If you don’t like it, do it again. It’s more rewarding than you’d think. Shots or even subtle hints of color in unexpected places with paint, can go a looooooong way.

In the same way that paint can make a big statement, when it’s contrasted with darker tones in wood, it can be absolutely gorgeous in combination. So slowly paint some tired pieces in varying hues, and use them together with the wood look to add some major interest to a tired space.

Stuck in a renter’s debacle and can’t escape those builder’s beige walls? Be sure to check out our lil post on additional ideas for adding personality to your walls, here. 

via centsational girl via somerset bay

2. Fabric : Think of this as the second key element you can use to bring an unexpected dose to the space. Sofas, headboards, pillows, curtains, table cloths, runners, frames, lampshades, chairs…need I go on? Use hints of the same color to help your space flow. Upcycle the things that were formerly plain Jane. Think of it in terms of adding contrast with complimentary colors {orange + blue} for a dose of excitement or choosing the same hues {blues + greens} for a soothing vibrance.

{pssst! be sure to check out our fave fab resources + tips & tricks for working with fabric, here.}


3. Floors : Often referred to as the fifth forgotten wall, floors all the all-too-neglected element when it comes to a space. I’m kind of a rug freak, and whether you’re simply adding texture, or a shot of color repeated from your fabrics and walls or other pieces, don’t forget the floor. It’s a simple place to add some personality.


For the bazillionth {you may now roll your eyes at me time} : Don’t be afraid to make the changes you really want to make. If it’s one sofa that’s holding you up, and you really want a new one, you can save up your moolah, but you’re not sure what’s holding you back other than guilt because your second cousin’s grandmother’s aunt may think you’re being ridiculous…sell it on craigslist. You’ll thank yourself, and wonder what took you so long, later. Create a space that you love, and you’ll create a haven for yourselves and your family.

Wrapping it up : Just remember the concept of three, to help carry your color switch throughout your spaces and homes. If you sit back and think about what’s bothering you about your color change, I can guarantee it usually has something to do with balance and one of these elements. Of course, top it all off with that crown jewel of a chandy light fixture, and you’re golden. ;}

That’s about it! I hope that helps, Georgia, and any of you who may be faced with a color switch debacle. I’m about to tackle one of my own! Have you ever been challenged by a space and then had an a-ha moment when you added just a touch of something? Please share! I’d love to hear.

Have an inspired day, everyone!

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Responses to color theory 101 : making the switch

  1. Great post! We bought our new home about 18 months ago, and the house had a lot of earth tones and warm colors throughout. I have gradually been making the switch to cooler tones – more blue, grays, etc… I kind of freaked out at first when I painted the walls, and I noticed that it does take some time for your eye to adjust to the change. So don’t freak out – give it some time to “marinate” before making up your mind. :-)

  2. Anna H. says:

    A to the men! Thank you so much for this! I am about to pull the switch myself. This helps. More than you know.

  3. Jenna says:

    Yes. To all of this. I really like that you take your knowledge with composition and art, and apply it to home design. It is working. :)

  4. This is a huge help as I get ready to make some color changes. Thanks!

  5. Mila says:

    I am ready to change all this out! Love it. Thanks.