Collecting Color Stories

Collecting Color StoriesI receive a lot of questions about my design process, usually relating to my dress collections. For the next few weeks I am going to share about the design process, in little bits! For me, the process starts out the same whether I have fashion in mind, paintings or home decor. It's a surprisingly similar process, no matter what the project. Step one is always color.

Painted Color Story CardsWhen I'm dreaming about a new collection (or even a single project, like a painting or a room plan) I like to spend some time playing with color. Sometimes I'll take a trip to the hardware store and pick out paint swatches in the colors I'm loving. Sometimes I'll rip from magazines and make a color story inspiration board. Sometimes I'll use paint and markers to map out my options. I like to see different color stories on paper before choosing one for my project. This is one of my favorite parts of the creative process. 

It's important to remember that your color story is not a commitment to only use those colors. I usually don't like things to be too matchy-matchy. Your color story is the backbone of your design. You'll work other color around it, choosing things that add to the story. There are no hard and fast rules. You can always change your mind. What I love is that planning your color story will save time and simplify your creative process, allowing you to focus more on other details. 

Autumn Dress Collection Color StoryHere are a few examples from my past work. This dress collection had one of my favorite color stories. It was rich and very seasonal. I'm at Autumn girl at heart, so I always gravitate toward these tones. The pea green color and deep teal made the whole story for me. I really enjoyed working with this palette the whole way through. 

Living Room Color StoryWhen I was decorating our newlywed home I didn't pre-plan a color story, it happened naturally over six months or so. I was always adding and taking things away until it felt right. If I would have planned the color story in advance I probably would have finished much faster, but I was enjoying the scenic route with this project. For our next home I'm pre-planning each room's color story. (1/2 to save time + 1/2 because it's fun)

Wedding Day Color StoryI knew I wanted a colorful wedding, so when I chose white and cream bridesmaids dresses people were a little surprised. I saved the pop of color for the tights and flowers and I'm so happy I did. Sometimes a strong color scheme is best used in smaller details! I'm a fan of neutral designs with bright accents. 

I hope that this little look behind my process has been helpful to some of you. I'll be back soon to share more thoughts on the basic design habits that I practice. If you have any questions, let me know! Happy Monday, Elsie  

  • Absolutely love your autumn dress collection. The colors and styling are awesome. Not only comfortable but classy as well. The kind of stuff that is easily dressed up or down depending upon where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. Stylishly functional! You can’t miss with these outfits.

  • I started a 365 watercolour quote project in january but it lasted only 2 months! I plan on starting it again next january! 🙂

  • Such a fun (and bright) post! Thanks for sharing some of your creative process – it’s always enjoyable reading these kinds of posts.

  • This is a great concept. I suppose it is something that I do unconsciously throughout the creative process, with trial and error. But making a color story or a few options before starting is a great way to get started. I’ll try it for my next project. Thanks for sharing!

  • Color! What a great post. Your living room is adorable. I just moved into a rental, that is almost perfect. The only downfall, I can’t paint. I am hoping after a year I can sweet talk them into letting us paint. I am dying for some color!

  • The wedding day color story is nice! I love the idea of using colorful tights.

  • wonderful post! very inspirering!
    It would make me very happy if you visit my blog too! its:
    xx Sophia

  • That photo from your wedding is so darling! I am truly in love with it.

    I love the idea of using paint or markers to physically put your color story down on paper to have. I usually just try to keep mine in my head; sometimes it gets lost a bit. Great tip!


  • I love this! For some reason when I thought about your process color never came to mind! But it looks like such a fun part!

    xoxo Sarah

  • Wow I’m very excited to have stumbled upon your blog!

  • Have you seen this colour palettes website? It’s quite addictive!

  • Such good advice, I love playing with colour when trying new things. Your living room is amazing, so bright!

  • Cool, cool, cool, I totally adore this blog post! <3

  • Awesome post…and it has to be said that that blue couch is the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen!

  • Elsie, you are so generous. Thank you as always for your advice and tips.

  • Very cool. Love hearing about the details behind a design. Looking forward to future posts!

  • Really interesting series! Can’t wait to see more!!
    xo Heather

  • I love, love, LOVE the idea of having the bridesmaids wear colored tights for a wedding.

  • This is such a cool way to preplan designs. Going to use it for my fall/winter collections this year!

    Thank you!

  • This is a great series! I love hearing about other people’s creative processes. It’s so inspiring! I absolutely love the colors in your living room. After seeing it in your house tour, I decided to use a very similar color story and paint my living room / dining room the same color. I love it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I like this way of thinking. When I’m designing a room I usually design it based on the function and overall style (boxy vs curvy etc) first, and color later. I’m going to try this next time!

  • Thanks for this! I love color and my favorite part of the creative process is also creating interestingly beautiful color palettes. I especially like the one you used for your living room.

  • Love the coloured tights on the bridesmaids- so original!

  • As always, this is a great post, Elsie! Your design process is very helpful!!! I love the way that you are always bursting with so much inspiration and creative vibes!!! Keep up the good work!


  • I really like the colours and colour combinations in the first picture! 🙂

  • I first found your blog just as you were showing the pictures of your wedding! I simply loved how fantastic and creative it all looked. And I don’t think I’ve missed a post of yours since! Well, maybe the give-aways ’cause I know I’ll never win 🙂

  • I love combining colors. Sometimes I just play around in Photoshop or use to get inspired. It’s such a fun process!

  • Hey, Girls! Super post; love the color schemes. I’m planning on visiting Red Velvet this coming month, so I would really appreciate updated pics of it since it’s been a while and to get me salivating. Thanks!


  • It’s always great to hear the process that others go through. I love orange black and white at the moment, and have chosen coral, turquoise and yellow for my wedding colours. xx

  • What great color pallets for fall!

    Let’s follow each other!

    -Daisy Nguyen from PS BANANAS fashion blog:

  • These are so fun! I’m totally digging the colourful tights. That’s such a great idea and super cute too. It’s also helpful because then you can pick out who the bridesmaids are. Sometimes if their dresses are different colours it can be hard to tell who’s a bridesmaid and who’s not. 😛


  • Wow Elsie! This is really interesting!! Thank you for the tips. I always do colour stories when I Was designing, but I have never made anything I designed, so I didn’t think it worked. But that living room proved me wrong. Well done and thank you 🙂

  • You’re so artsy and creative, i wish i was a bit more creative. Those colour stories on paper are such a good idea for when i’m moving out, definitely going to keep that in mind. Thanks for sharing your tips Elsie!

  • I love the color stories! I’m having fun doing just that by making mood boards for our house as we remodel each room. Its one of those things that I could just spend hours doing…and would if it wasn’t for the small children needing attention or the laundry needing folding etc etc etc 😉

  • Very interesting ! As a computer graphic designer, I have the same process. But usualy I use the same color swatch I’m confident with.

    I really love your marriage idea. I hope I will have some ideas as good as these for mine (in a long time i think).

  • What s so great about your posts is that Ican really learn something by reading them..
    Great job


  • I’m going to LOVE this series. I’m a graphic designer and I can’t wait for more! xx

  • Ooh, this is fabulous! I think I’m going to steal your idea for all future home or shopping projects. 😀

  • thanks for the tips! fall colors are so nice 🙂


  • Absolutely love this post, Elsie… My best friend taught me about making color stories… we sit at the art supplies store making swatches of color stories on little pieces of paper. So much fun, It’s something I def need to start doing before I tackle a big project, I usually just wing it. Love these tips 🙂

  • This is a great new series, Elsie. I love seeing how other artists come up with their ideas and their process. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Love your color tips! How do we bring color into our offices or wardrobe?

  • great post , thank you so much !
    XX Luba

    Well Living blog

  • Great new segment, Elsie! I’m so with you in that I’m consistently drawn to neutrals with bright or bold accents.

  • I love how you surprised everyone at your wedding with the tights. It’s clever and something not many people have done! I LOVED it! 🙂 Love the autumn collection colors, too. You’re just overall totallly creative Els! 🙂
    p.s. I am a lifeguard and yesterday there were two little girls (sisters) whose names were Emma and Elsie. I thought that was so coool 🙂

  • I really admire the way you share all your hints and tips. An open book is much better than a closed.

    Thank you!


  • I would like to refresh my house and I love magazine inspiration while drinking my coffee in the yard. Could you tell me some of your favorite inspirational magazines to check? 🙂

  • I think that is THE most adorable bridal party ever. I’m redoing my room and now I’m going to find a color story for it!

  • Great tips! Shop Beautiful Day Dresses Online at CopperEtiquette

  • This was very helpful. I am still trying to figure out how to decorate our spaces…and we finished renovating 18 months ago! Love, love, love colour!

  • Great post. I wish I would have done the same thing when I moved into my new home. Some of my rooms are still empty… so better late than never!

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