It is no surprise that a color palette can make or break a space. It is, after all, a key component of interior decoration. In fact, the color palette is often a jumping-off point for a room’s overall design. 

There is a right (and a wrong) way to apply color theory to a space. While landing on a color palette doesn’t require an advanced degree in Fine Arts, it does take a thoughtful approach. 

Living room decor as an example of a color palette.

If you’re ready to switch up your interior design, there are a few things you should consider before committing to a color palette. Try to keep the following principles in mind ahead of this big interior design change

The Purpose of the Space

Blue and gray office decor as an example of a color palette.

Ask yourself this simple question: what will you be using the space for? It’s a great place to start and will be a helpful way to ultimately inform your color palette decision.

For example, is it an office space that you want to inspire your creativity or one where you’ll want minimal distractions? Is it a bedroom that you want to be relaxing and serene or one that you want to showcase your personality?

The answers to these questions will automatically eliminate color palettes that don’t jive with the room’s intended use. While it will still leave many options, it will narrow the list considerably. 

How the Space Will Make You Feel

A closely related consideration is how you want the space to make you and your guests feel. Are you seeking an energetic vibe or a palette that will help the room fade into the background?

This question can aid you in determining a color or hue to focus on. If you’re unsure where to start, there are plenty of resources to better understand how color and psychology intertwine. 

Your Home’s Overall Aesthetic

Pink and black decor in a living room 
as an example of a color palette.

Building upon your space’s function and feel, it is important to remember that not all color palettes fit into every interior design style. While olive green appliances fit seamlessly into a mid-century modern home, that specific shade isn’t what you would expect in a space with a modern farmhouse aesthetic.

Part of what makes a design style so distinct is its associated color palettes. As you continue to whittle down the options, your home’s aesthetic will play a large role in which palettes will or will not work in your space. 

A Color Palette That’s Cohesive with Your Home

Similarly, you’ll want to think about the color palettes of other rooms in your home and how they will compare to the scheme you land on for this particular space. It is completely okay for your room’s walls to stand out from one another. What you don’t want is for two rooms—especially right next to each other—to clash. 

Instead, opt for colors that are complementary. There are a lot of ways to apply this design principle that go beyond the basics of the color wheel. It is not a hard and fast rule, but rather, an important guideline that will help you to further narrow down your options. 

How the Color Palette Will Impact Lighting (and Vice Versa) 

Lighting is one of many considerations when determining a color palette. While it isn’t necessarily the most important, it can have a significant impact on your space.  

If your room has plenty of natural lighting, you won’t have to worry as much about opting for a darker shade. However, if the room relies mostly on artificial lighting, you may want to choose a lighter color palette to help manufacture the feeling that your space is brighter than it actually is.

Another thing to keep in mind is how the lighting in the room will impact the appearance of the colors you choose. The same shade can look very different depending on the lighting. While this doesn’t have to be a deciding factor, you don’t want to be caught off guard by how much your home’s lighting can affect the look of paint colors, furnishings, and other decor. 

Trendy vs. Timeless

Pink patterned decor as an example of a trendy color palette.

How committed are you to the space you’re designing? Will you update it every few years or is this a one-time renovation?

Just because a color palette is trendy now, doesn’t mean it will be forever. While some color schemes can stand the test of time, others will look out of place as the years go on. 

Trendy color palettes certainly have their place, while some spaces are better suited for a more classic palette. Either way, this is a personal choice only you can make regarding your interior design.

Use Existing Color Palette Examples as Inspiration 

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Finding an existing color palette and applying it to your space is a great way to ensure that the colors you choose will work together.

There are plenty of resources that can provide inspiration and help you narrow down your options. You can use a compilation, such as this, to get your creative juices flowing. Alternatively, you can have some fun testing out a color palette generator to pick the best color scheme for your space.  

Finding a Color Palette That Fits

A bathroom with a monochromatic color palette of white, gray, and black.

Choosing a color palette for your space isn’t rocket science, but it’s not an opportunity to throw caution to the wind, either. One of the biggest things to remember is that not all colors belong together.

Complementary shades can help a room shine, while hues that clash will make you not want to spend any time in the space at all. Finding the right balance takes time and consideration. 

By using the principles listed above, however, you can discover the best color palette without any hassle. You never know, you may even enjoy the process along the way.