6 Rules to Make You Fearless When Using Bold Colors in Your Home

Go bold or go home! Just don’t go home to too bold.

Successfully navigating the world of bright, vibrant and striking interior colors requires confidence. You have to be willing to take the plunge into something exciting, different and eye-catching.

Remember, there’s no beige in bold, so if you want to make a statement, color is the only way to go.


You can have a lot of fun with bold colors, but remember - it’s easy to go overboard. Photo: Love Chic Living. Wallpaper by Cole and Son

Decorating with strong color choices requires a lot of consideration for space, surroundings, and even the effect that your chosen color will have on you and your mood.

With this in mind, we’ve outlined six key rules to remember the next time you decide to throw a coat of paint on the walls – after all, you want your colors to speak to you, not scream at you.

1. Life Beyond the Chip

Never was such a small piece of paper so deceptive. The paint chip is the tiny square of color by which you make some of the boldest decisions in your home. It can be a vital jumping off point, but when relied upon too heavily, it can also wreak havoc on your walls.


(Don’t rely on paint chips. Get your paint samples up on the wall to get a better understanding of what they’ll look like in the space. Photo: Martin Poole via Thinkstock)

It is important to remember that the appearance of color changes as the surface area upon which it lies expands. A bold color on a small slip of paper no larger than a credit card, will have a completely different look and feel on, for example, a wall or ceiling. It will dominate a room, instead of simply rest in the palm of your hand at the hardware store.

Krista Nye Schwartz and Tami Ramsay, experts with the interior design company CLOTH & KIND, couldn’t agree more.  “One of the most fatal mistakes people make when painting with bright or dark colors is that they choose the shade from an itty-bitty paint chip without experiencing the color in the natural light of their space.”

To avoid a bold color catastrophe, pick up samples at the hardware store. Paint large areas on your wall, so you can get a real sense of what the color will look like in the room. You’ll know very quickly if you’ve made the wrong selection – If it feels like your walls are aggressively undulating with color, it’s time to abandon ship and rethink.

2. When Matching is Not Such a Good Match

Much like an overly-matched outfit, an overly-matched room full of bold color screams “you’re trying too hard!” If you’re trying to match your walls to a bold piece in your room, in an effort to show it off, you may actually be overshadowing that piece with your paint selection.

For example, if you have a great red chair that makes you happy every time you sit on it, and you really want to show it off, choose a bold, contrasting color that complements it. A multi-dimensional deep green will actually highlight that vibrant red chair, instead of compete with it. Choosing a statement-making color with more muted undertones is a smart way to go.


(Have your bold colors compliment each other, not compete with each other. Photo: Sage Atelier)

If you’d like to stick within the same color when matching to an item in your room, be sure to chose a color that has a slightly lighter hue. The item you would like to highlight should be slightly bolder and darker in color – that way the walls and your furniture aren’t competing for your eyes’ attention.

3. All Whites Are Not Created Equal

If you want a bold color to really stand out and look sharp, you’ll want to contrast it with a clean, white trim. This may seem like common sense, but what you may not realize is that all whites are not strictly, well…white. Every white has a different undertone, meaning that it will appear different, depending on what color you pair it with.


(If you’re painting your walls in a cool bold color, choose a cool white for your trim. Photo; Amy Desmond via Apartment Therapy )

According to the experts at Better Homes and Gardens, you’ll want to “use the appropriate white for trim with bright colored walls. Warm tones need a white with a yellow undertone and cool tones need a white with a cool undertone.”

Keeping that in mind, if you’re choosing to paint with a bold blue color, for example, you’ll want to choose a white with a cool, grey undertone. Opting for this type of white will ensure that your trim appears bright and crisp against your wall, instead of slightly yellowing.

On the other hand, if you’re going with a striking red, you’ll want a white with a slightly yellow, warm undertone. Choosing a cool white to pair with a warm bold can result in that white appearing dirty.

4. More is Too Much

We all have favorite colors, but that doesn’t mean we have to splash them across every aspect of our homes. You know the expression “paint the town red?” Well, don’t. Just paint a couple of buildings in the town red, otherwise your home is likely to become an assault on the senses.


(Bright orange furniture and accent pieces pop against a bold, but neutral background. Photo: Rue Mag)

If you’re going to go bold with a wall color, just stick to the walls - don’t pick up that color in the curtains, your furniture and your art work. It’s too much! We love that you love bright blue – our eyes just don’t love that you chose to cover your whole room in it.

If you’re insistent on bold furniture and accent pieces, however, you can choose a strong but neutral color for your walls, like a dark charcoal or blue, and make your furniture pop instead - just don’t do both.

Remember more is not always more.

Our friends over at Apartment Therapy have another helpful suggestion: “Add in a handful of elements spread around the home that have nothing to do with your color palette at all. They’ll infuse the space with more life and interest.”

Hey, how about a bright door in a neutral space?


Sometimes a pop of bold is all that’s needed to make a big statement. Photo: Martha Stewart

5. It’s a Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Color is very much affected by light. What a color looks like in the morning sun, will be very different in the electric light evening. This may not be a bad thing. Many colors transition seamlessly from day to night, but if you’ve chosen a bold that gets too dark at night, or appears too shriek-y in the light of day, you’re probably not going to be able to stand it for too long.


(Is the blue you chose actually more green in the light of day? Photo: The Little Umbrella)

Apartment Therapy suggests painting a sample on the walls first. Choose an area that gets both natural light during the day and electric lighting at night.

“if a color you thought would work doesn’t, take it back to the paint store and explain to someone working there which type of light made the color go wrong — someone with the right experience should be able to point you in the right direction.”

6. That’s Deep, Man

Designer Suzanne Kasler tells House Beautiful that it is vital to chose a bold color with depth, if you want to avoid a color blunder.

“Deep colors contain many other hues, and you have to be just as concerned about the secondary shades that are blended in. Colors that have no depth are oddly fluorescent,” she says. “ They will leap out at you, rather than pull you in.”


(When you look at this dark, almost inky black, you see notes of blue and green, which are picked up in the floor and complemented in the golden fixtures and bright pink towel. Photo: Breeze Giannasio via Made by Girl)

Related on Yahoo Makers: 6 Colors and How They Affect the Way You Live

If you want to choose a deep dark blue or charcoal grey, for example, look for a hue with inky undertones. When you look at the color, you actually want to look in to the color and detect notes of interest. Is that a slight purple hidden in that dark, luxurious grey? Or perhaps notes of forrest green in that intoxicating blue?

When your eyes fall upon a bold color, you want them to be able to rest and take in the complexities of that color, not to be attacked by its flat, harsh one-dimensionality.

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