How to Choose a Color Story for Your Home

How to choose a color story for your homeLast time we were planning to move, I tried something really different. I picked out a color story to use throughout our entire home. So before I picked out a single paint color or bought a piece of furniture, I spent some serious time (maybe even too much time—haha!) collecting inspiration and planning out a color palette I could use as the base for all the rooms in our house. 

There were two big reasons I wanted to try this. The first was so that my house would match and flow from room to room. In the past I tended to decorate with bold colors in every room, so my house ended up looking a little bit like a crayon box, or different sets for a quirky girl television show. This was fun, but not as cohesive or relaxing as I wanted for my new home. The second reason I wanted to commit to a color scheme was so I could move furniture from room to room. I like to change things up often and having everything match is really, really good for that side of my personality. 

Almost three years later, I am happy to report that I still love the choice to commit to a color scheme. It made my decisions easier, my purchases longer lasting, and as predicted, I enjoyed swapping things from room to room through the seasons. 

These past few months as I’ve started to plan my new home, I have again been choosing a color scheme. It’s a little different from my last one but with a lot of the same colors included. It’s kind of fun to have a fresh start, but I am still planning to keep almost every piece of furniture from our current home. And for those random items that no longer match, there is always spray paint! 

Anyway! I am here to today to share five tips for choosing a color story for your home. I hope you find this useful whether you have a move on your horizon or you just want to become a more planned shopper for future home items. 

Yellow in the living room1. Choose colors that you are comfortable with and that inspire you. 

The first place I look is in my closet. Your closet can be a very telling place to discover your go-to colors. Do you wear almost all black and white? Lean toward red? Love denim and white? Gravitate toward hot pink? Jot down what you discover. Your most and least worn colors can tell you a lot about your color comfort zone. 

For most of us, we lean toward similar colors in both what we wear and how we decorate—plus you know those colors are flattering and something you’ll love over time. 

Another quick way to discover colors that comfort and inspire you is to look at all the home things you already own, especially those favorites that you’ve had for years and know you will keep for years to come. It’s easy to browse through Pinterest and see amazing rooms, but the true test is living with a space over time. So pay close attention to your shopping patterns for both decor and clothing and you will likely get some insight into your personal “perfect” color palette! 

Mustard yellowColors that inspire me tend to be a little different than my comfort colors. Personally, my comfort colors are a lot of textured whites, creams, denims and natural wood, while the colors that inspire me most right now are hot pink, deep turquoise, cobalt blue and blush. Note both ends of your spectrum. 

2. Create a mood board of things you love. 

Once you’ve identified those go-to colors, start to compile a pin board or folder on your computer with LOTS of items in those colors. Save different textures, rooms, art and even outfits that inspire you and suit your style. Once you have them saved together, you can create a mood board. 

Mood boards are helpful because you can see your overall style more easily. I like this because when I’m shopping for individual items, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or to accidentally pick a bunch of cute things that don’t compliment each other. Having a mood board to reference (I keep mine saved on my phone) is an easy way to remind yourself of the vibe and style you are going for. 

The other thing I love about creating a mood board is that it’s easy to see how your colors are going to work together. Maybe your first pass will feel too one dimensional, in which case you can add a few more colors! Or maybe it will feel cluttered and chaotic, a color scheme that would benefit from an extra large dose of neutrals. 

In either case, creating a mood board is the fastest way to see how your colors and style will work, and it’s so low commitment that it’s a win-win! 

3. Mix neutrals and fun pops of color. 

6a00d8358081ff69e2019b00a798c6970d-800wi6a00d8358081ff69e2019b00a798c6970d-800wiMaybe I’m a little crazy, but I even like to plan out my neutral colors. For example, in my new color story, black is sparse and natural wood is sporadic, while white, gray and cream are used heavily. Ask yourself—Do you have favorite neutral colors? (to maximize) Are there any neutrals that you dislike? (to minimize)

Neutrals are an awesome way to balance intense color and create a more chill, airy or timeless design. While homes with no color aren’t my personal cup of tea, an all neutral palette can be beautiful and very easy to execute. And while I’ve never lived in a home without bold colors, I would imagine it would feel very comfy and relaxing. 

If I lived in a magazine (which, sadly, I do not), I would decorate each room in head-to-toe intense, saturated color. But I have lived in a room that colorful and I didn’t love it. It gets old. Plus I love switching things out each season and neutrals make that really easy!

Find your balance. Find your ideal proportion on neutral vs. color. 

These pops of color are a great place to use those colors from your mood board that inspire you, but would be obnoxious if overused. A little bit goes a long way with some colors, so use them wisely and have FUN. 

4. Focus on paint and permanent pieces first. 

Natural wood and white in the dining roomI like to build my color story like a pyramid, placing the biggest priority (both money and time spent on decisions) on the more permanent “bones” of my design first. Paint colors are a big priority. For both my current and my future home I chose mostly neutral colors with just a few statement walls. The other elements I have spent a lot of time picking out are our hardwood stain color, a new couch (still haven’t decided), rugs and light fixtures. These are pieces that I don’t plan to swap out or change while we’re living in this home. Choose things you will keep and be happy with for a long time. 

If you do choose to go bold on paint colors or furniture, make sure it’s with one of your top few favorite colors, something you’ve gone back to over and over for years–not a seasonal or trendy color. 

The details decorating phase is a little bit more fun. Choosing throw pillows, rugs and artwork are more like a reward at the end of all the other stuff. At least that’s how I look at it! 

5. How and when to break outside the palette. 

In my current home I didn’t regret my color scheme or want to change it in a major way the whole time I lived there (Yay! Success!). But I didn’t always stick to it strictly. For parties and holidays I incorporated a few more colors. I also added different pops of color in certain rooms, like a pink-based art wall in the dining room and coral in the laundry room. 

Pops of pink in the dining room!Pops of pink in the dining room!Your chosen color story can represent all the items in your home that you want to mix, match and last a long time. With that said, it doesn’t have to become some sort of rule book. Once you’ve established your basics, you can feel free to break out of your color zone and add as much as you want! 

How to choose a color story for your home I took this photo a few months ago when I was first picking colors for our new space (It’s since been paired WAY down). Paint swatches are my favorite way to sort a color story because you can keep them in your purse at all times for easy reference when shopping. I never planned to use all these colors on my walls. Some of them are wall colors, but some are just meant to be accent colors for decor items. I have found it very helpful to keep them with me at all times, to remind myself of the color story I want to go with overall. When I picked a wallpaper recently, it had other colors outside of my plan, but it coordinated and that’s all that matters. 

Alright! I’m not sure if I just revealed what a huge dork I am or if this is a helpful blog post for you. Maybe both? Haha! In either case, I have found this exercise incredibly helpful in the initial, planning phases of a new home. I hope you do too! 

Time for my favorite part–hearing your thoughts! Have you established any type of color story for your home? Is this something that you think would be helpful in a future home or too restrictive? I’m looking forward to reading your comments. xx- Elsie 

Credits// Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Laura Gummerman, Janae Hardy and Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions.

  • Hi Elsie,

    Was wondering if there’s a “rule” on accent wallS (yes, plural) AND how many colors you can paint in an open concept floor plan (kitchen/dining/living room)? I noticed most- if not all- your walls are white with pops of color mostly in accessories and some furniture pieces…


  • This is very helpful. I still have to decorate my upper house and this is a good start 🙂 thank you!

  • I absolutely LOVE the idea of a color story!! My boyfriend and I are renting right now (so sadly no painting), but we’re looking to buy a home in the next year..which leads me to a question! We have two very different styles. I like things light and neutral, with pops of color (especially yellow…because YELLOW!) and darker stained wood. And he hates the idea of white cabinets. He likes all darker colors, ect.

    Did you have any troubles compromising on a color story?! Or did you have any tips?


  • I seriously love this blog post! My husband and I are (hopefully!!) closing on our first home together this Friday. I have to confess, I was pretty nervous about the decor aspect of things. Generally we agree on the important things, but I tend to be a LOT bolder and more experimental with colors and design ideas. He hasn’t cared a whole lot in the past because we’ve only lived in temporary apartment situations (read: no painting), but I know this home means a lot to him too and I was foreseeing a lot of frustration as we tried to pick everything out together. He gets a little panicky when there is too much color/florals/patterns and wants to default to neutrals and blues (to feel more manly?). Taking the time to go to Lowe’s and sift through all of our favorite colors and come up with a color story that reflects both of us has been a DREAM. It was surprisingly exciting, a fun little day date! We both feel involved and listened to, and are both getting things we love! It’s just going to make everything smoother from here on out, I can tell. I also just really like saying “color story”. It sounds pretty romantic to me! Teamwork!! 🙂 Thanks so much!

  • Just curious, where did you get the paint swatches? I want to get the swatches like that too.

  • Tried to comment on this but it must’ve not come through with my phone :'(
    Just said that I loved the suggestions of this post. My husband and I have had a “color story” in our minds since before buying our first home (a total fixer). We’re dreaming of white walls and a mid-century color pallet as far as furniture and textures go. We figured that if we hate the white we can always easily change one way or room, anyways. It seems like a risk but we want to go for it! Our house is painted red and I *might* paint the front door a teal color as a little tease to the interior.

    this stuff is a lot more fun two homes later, haha!

  • Hey Elsie!!

    Do you remember the name the paint you used for your shelves in your living room? The greenish one?? I am in love with that color!

  • Ooh, I love this. We just bought our first home – a fixer – and I’ve been carrying around paint chips as we make design decisions 😉 We decided on white (almost taupe) walls and darker stained floors so we would have a lot of freedom with the color we want to incorporate. We’re gravitating toward a mid- century pallet (avocado green, teal, salmon, etc.) and have approached that preference with much more certainty after 2 rentals. Our motto of sorts is timeless fixtures / bathroom / anything of permanence, and the rest can easily evolve with us.

  • I love this post! Will definitely be using these tips for the future!

  • These are great tips–it seems like such a simple idea but I hadn’t thought of consciously picking a color story for the whole home. Definitely the perfect starting point…and best way to get to geek out over decor before even having to make specific decisions. 🙂

    I also think it’s a great tip to consult your wardrobe to get an idea of your comfort colors, but it’s also funny because I just noticed to myself the other day: I decorate with a lot of green, but I have hardly any green in my closet! I found that a little odd because it is one of my favorite colors. 🙂

  • Ooh, I love this. We just bought our first home – a fixer – and I’ve been carrying around paint chips as we make design decisions 😉 We decided on white (almost taupe) walls and darker stained floors so we would have a lot of freedom with the color we want to incorporate. We’re gravitating toward a mid- century pallet (avocado green, teal, salmon, etc.) and have approached that preference with much more certainty after 2 rentals. Our motto of sorts is timeless fixtures / bathroom / anything of permanence, and the rest can easily evolve with us.

  • This is great! You’re so right about your general shopping habits, decor, clothing etc being a great example of the colors you love. I realized this year that pretty much our entire house is full of grays, blues, and greens. I didn’t know why (except for the fact that they’re just beautiful) until I went to my childhood home this past Christmas and realized my parents’ house has always been those colors. They symbolize peace and comfort and HOME for me so I decorated our new home in those shades without even thinking about it. Colors have such an impact on a space and on our hearts, and I love these tips for making your home a more colorful and cohesive space! Thanks for sharing!

  • I really like the idea of choosing a color scheme for the whole house and making all the rooms work together. I want to try it. but I’m so curious about why you’re moving. You’ve got your house all decorated and it seems strange to buy a house and only live there a couple of years. Maybe you discussed it in a post I missed, or maybe it’s personal…

  • I do this instinctually when I’m approaching a new design project, but it was really interesting hearing this articulated so clearly! I’m curious… what brand of paint chips are you playing with in these photos? I love the shape of them. I often use paint chips as part of my seasonal inspiration board I rotate through in my studio, and these would display so beautifully!

  • Lovely color schemes! This was super helpful in more ways than one! Now I want to color scheme my apartment, my Instagram feed, my closet, EVERYTHING! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I cannot believe how quickly you made this seemingly insurmountable task an easy, step-by-step process. Bless you. The bit about focusing on the big things first is particularly logical; and I recently used a mood board for another project, which was hugely successful even though I went into it with skepticism. I don’t know why it did not occur to me to do the same thing for my home. Anyway, great post. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • This is very timely and something I’m struggling with daily! We moved into our dream home after finishing up our starter home and listing it and while we love almost everything about our new one, its paint is not one of them. I’m struggling too because it’s very large and has very open rooms and I’m not sure where to go once I find one color I like. I keep coming back to white. Oh, and don’t get me started on wanting to paint the kitchen cabinets and the trim- I think this is one of those decisions I need to hire help for! And did I mention I change my mind about neutrals? I was a warm brown/beige girl for years and now I’m a grey/white and completely stuck. Thanks for the tips though! Love everything you’ve done with your old house and I’m sure your new one will be just as beautiful! (Sorry for the random comment! Did I mention I love this blog?)

  • In high school my (now) husband and I went to our art teacher’s house and every room was a different color. When we got married and bought our current house we were determined to use every color, just like she did. We think life is too short to play it safe–go for the color (you can always paint over it)!

    (Check out our colorful Victorian:

  • These are really great tips. I LOVE painting, and I’m always eager to paint when I feel like a new look. Right now I’m just trying to draw up a decent ‘paint plan’ that I can present to my landlord to get his permission to fix up some of the questionable paint jobs in our rental. These are very helpful!


  • Love this! Sherwin Williams actually has collections of colors like this, in several different themes (traditional, urban, country, etc) for anyone who might like a short cut 🙂 I already tend to do this to an extent, mostly for the sake of being able to swap my furniture and decor around (gotta stay on that budget!).

    Our new house is going to have varying shades of grey in similar tones for the walls, and a lot of the same decor colors throughout. I even created a mood board on pinterest! But I never would have thought about sharing my process. So thanks for the great post 🙂

  • What a great post! I’m not sure why I’ve never thought of creating a “color story” within my apartment. I try to keep a nice flow, but it doesn’t always work out! LOL Especially since I like so many different color schemes. My living room is bold black and white patterns with wood accents and for color we have a lot of deep turquoise, golden yellow, orange, and metallic gold. And then some extra accent colors are pink, purple, and red. A lot of color!

    I’m in the process of getting inspired for re-docorating our bedroom. We have a grey comforter picked out! Lately I’ve been drawn to grey, orangey red, soft blue, yellow, coral pink, cobalt blue, and a few others. And of course, I always love black and white accents.

    I’m torn because it wasn’t long ago that I perfected my living room and I still adore it, but I’m getting older and I feel like once we buy our first home (hopefully in the next year and a half), I’ll want to go in a more mature (neutral, but colorful) direction and babble with the colors I’ve been drawn to lately.

    It’s so hard letting go sometimes! Especially since it means doing away with some of your favorite decor. But you’re right, spray paint is a beautiful thing!

  • Love this post! So very helpful. I’ve never wanted my home to be “matchy matchy” so to speak, but cohesive, yes. I’ve had a hard time creating that desired cohesiveness, but then again I never thought to put together a mood board and color story!

    Also, kind of a weird question – where did you get your paint swatches? Some brands have a specific look or tone to their colors that may or may not work with your color story and others seem to be more limited than some.

    Thank you!!

  • Such helpful tips! I’m about to move and am really looking forward to refreshing the look of our home. 🙂

  • Hello Elsie!

    This post is amazing… I’m definitely save this between my fav articles, in case I move home soon, or If have to redesign my house.

    Check out my new post about how Storytelling can help you increasing your online sales, through the next cases study: Ralph Lauren’s collection “Speed and Car”, Farfetch’s editorial The Weekenders and Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site Goop.
    I also invite you to join me on my new Facebook page!


  • I loved these tips so much! I can’t wait to plan my own house too, it’s something I really like to do 🙂 I read the posts about your home and it’s so gorgeous!

  • I used to think that you haad to have a different colour scheme in each room and felt silly when I would come up with the same colours for each room. Since realizing that I can make up my own design rules, I’ve kind of done the same thing as you, I pick my neutrals, a mix dark brown and white furniture and greys, then add pops of colour like reds and yellows and aqua in the kitchen, aqua or turquoise in the bathroom. I’m still working on figuring out the bedroom and living room, but leaning towards more blues and coral for the living room, and yellows and blues for the bedroom. I have a lot of grey in each room though, so it’s a really cohesive design.
    Thanks for the tips!

    Kristi | Be Loverly

  • Loved this. I’ve been trying to develop a color story for the house that I share with my boyfriend. I usually just start in Illustrator making a color palette but then get stuck not liking anything. Mood boards have helped me a lot to start to visualize how to balance colors, but I still fight with myself over going all neutral on the walls or going with bold, deep, rich colors! How do you balance your love for amazing color and your desire for a clean and comfy home? Do I go with neutral walls while I’m young and still figuring out my personal style and how that works with my boyfriend’s and wait until I’m older and have truly figured out what colors I can live with and then go bold? Or the other way around?? As a fellow color lover, I’d love any of your thoughts on my bizarre way of thinking about paint colors! I like the idea of going bold in the entry….and maybe the bathrooms…and maybe that will curb my color appetite 🙂

  • Thank you for this post!
    I will definitely need this next year when we are building our new house (!!!). So many choices I almost get dizzy.. But this is a great way to pick out colors. Thanks! 🙂

  • Maria, I’m so with you about missing those kinds of posts (both the inspiration + business ones). They inspire me the most!

  • Wow, I’m moving soon and this is exactly what I needed!! Now I know how I’ll be spending the rest of my evening 🙂

    Re: couches – where are your favourite places online to look? Are you big on flea market/thrift store finds? I’d love to find a couch in my ideal colour pallet, hopefully a mint green one, but I’m having so much trouble with my search!

  • Helpful tips! I enjoyed this post. Back to the ABM I became a big fan of last summer (and read every post back to the beginnings). Not that I haven´t been enjoying the last couple of months, but to be honest I´ve been missing more of this kind of inspirational/creative posts from Elsie on ABM! (also: I kind of miss Emma´s posts on bussines and general life musings…Has it been a while or is it just me?).

  • This is such a great idea! I’ve never heard of creating a color story before, gotta keep this in my back pocket once I buy a house.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • I love how you added colors with the wall paper and furniture! This looks so nice and lovely!


  • I can’t tell you how much I love this and wish I had done it. This will b very helpful with moving forward and how we make color decisions. I think my strategy was “pick a color I like, throw it on the wall, and call it a day”.


  • Mixed neutrals with fun pops of color is so pleasing to my eye right now. even though I’m not in the market for a home (and probably won’t be for a very long time!! Side-eyeing at student debt) I love to fantasize about my perfect home!! I like to play a lot with textures and graphics (faux bois, super textured paintings, mosaic tiles) too. This is great inspo to bookmark for later!!

    xoxoxoox, Naomi |

  • Such a good read on a very creative topic! Love reading your blog every day!

    Xx Taylor

  • This is soooo helpful! I just bought a house for the first time and already my paint sample collection for accent walls and cabinet doors has grown to an overwhelming amount. This process will definitely help me focus in on what I really want! Am I the only one who can spend hours looking at color samples and imagining the possibilities?

    Thank you for this great advice!

  • LOVE the textured white! And generally the idea that a pattern or texture can almost become a color unto itself.

  • i cant believe in about to say this but i think white is the way to go!
    in the previous room i was in i had one wall painted yellow and i loved it but i couldnt do much with it because it was too loud.

    my new room is all white and i let all the decorations be the pop of color. but of course this is just one room and you have a whole house so i definitely understand.

    but i do want to say thanks because you thought me that a room can be forever evolving. it doesnt have to stay the same ALWAYS!
    i love learning that lesson.

  • This is exactly what I have in mind for my own home! I’d something with mostly black, greys, metallic finishes and pops of color (mostly purples) throughout!


  • I love this! Thank you! Ir’s a very nice guide 🙂

  • Haha! Yes- choosing the perfect white for your home is a process. 🙂 They’re not all the same.
    xx- Elsie

  • Congratulations and good luck house shopping!!!!!
    xx- Elsie

  • Thank you so much!!! I have seriously heard from VERY few people who actually read text we wrote in the book and got something out of it, so that means a lot to me! 😀

    Oh- parties! Good idea!

    xx- Elsie

  • Hey Molly!
    That’s exactly what we’re doing with our new space- SUPER bold entry and then lots of white and gray through the rest. My friend says you should go crazy in the entry because since you don’t really “live” there you can’t get sick of it. 😀 Yay!

    xx! Elsie

  • Hey Kori,
    I have that experience with bold wall colors too. They’re SO GOOD the first day they go up, but it does sometimes easily get tired. If I was decorating a restaurant or a hotel I would do ALL bold colors, but for home sometimes neutrals just feel more comfy.

    Good luck with your new projects!!! Hope you enjoy picking out a color story together.
    xx- Elsie

  • I will tuck this post away for the future. 🙂 I am the worst with colors for my home! I get caught up with a bold color in each room and then realize NOTHING flows! Hopefully I’ll get it right someday!

  • Hey Erica,
    Oh yes- good question. So obvs every relationship is different, but Jeremy is a man of very few opinions. Is happy with 90% of the stuff I pick out. But on the 10% occasion when he has a strong opinion I pretty much always let him choose, just because it’s so rare that it only seems fair!
    For example, recently I wanted to paint our new bedroom a light blush color and he was like….. “no way”. I was already kinda attached to the idea (and I probably could have talked him into it), but we painted the room white just because it’s his house too and I want him to feel a part of the process! :))

    In this new house we have a very similar vision of how we want to decorate and what our reference points are, so I think having that upfront created a lot of unity from the beginning. 🙂

    Congratulations on your house shopping! xx- Elsie

  • Creating mood boards is a great idea!

    PRIMARK Haul June 2015 + giveaway

  • Super helpful post! When we bought our home a year ago, we kept one wall color (cream), painted most of it white, and used charcoal for some accents. We try to keep a small color palette for decor and furniture, and have been looking for just the right wallpaper as an accent. It’s a fun challenge for me to combine my “color likes” and decor style with my husband’s preferences. We’ll just say that before I got married, everything in my kitchen was light pink, including the 1950s sparkle countertops! Love the idea of keeping paint chips in your purse, how convenient.

    Have fun settling in Nashville, hope I run into you someday!

  • This is such great advice! I’ve always gone more with the old, pick one large piece, like your sofa or rug, and plan the rest of the room around that…but you’re so right that it’s hard to plan an entire home or apartment that way. This seems like such a better way to tie your entire home together instead of just one room. Really helpful!

  • My boyfriend and I have just recently bought our first home together. But we don’t get to move in until 10 months. Therefore, I’m always on the look out for suggestions when it comes to painting or decorations. I’m REALLY looking forward to see read more about your new house/ projects. Feeling a bit overwhelmed right now with all of the possibilities a new house can bring. Exciting! But overwhelming.

  • Yes! So many helpful tips. I recently purchased a new home with my partner and have given the colour I want on the walls a lot of thought. And you saved me! As I was reading I realized I am very close to falling victim to the same problems you faced with your first home. Currently, every room has swatches on the walls and they are all bold, vibrant colours. Before I commit to anything I will go through your suggested steps.

    Also, you’re not alone in your dorkdom. We have decided to paint our bathroom white and my partner doesn’t understand why there are different shades of white swatches on the walls. Painting a room white takes much consideration 😉

  • I find that it has to be a balance between the timeless and the trends. We moved into our home 18 months ago and whilst I had lots of ideas about colours that I wanted to include, having picked out pictures on Pinterest or having seen other people’s homes, the more I settled into the home, the more I needed to make the space liveable. For example, my brother has dark grey walls in his living room, which I love, but couldn’t live with every day – it would make me feel gloomy! My current obsession is yellow, but I’m well aware that in a couple of years, I’ll be bored of it. To that end, our walls are mostly white or pale grey (Farrow and Ball’s Ammonite) and our big pieces of furniture are neutral (with the exception of a bottle green sofa which I inherited from my family home) and the things that we can change are various shades of yellow and gold. We also have a deep pink chest of drawers which will do a few more years before it is painted another colour and plenty of soft furnishings which will be changed up in time.

  • Great post! I did the same thing with our house when we moved here a year ago. We started with white walls and wood floors and I picked teal, pale aqua, and all the pinks, with small accents of orange and yellow. It feels like us, I love it, and I can see myself being happy with these colors for a long long time. I love that paint chip picture, the variations in all the blues and neutrals is a good reminder that everything doesn’t have to be the same shade to look good together. Good luck decorating your new home! What a fun adventure.

  • This is SO perfect for me right now. I have just moved into an apartment that is all beige. I need to figure out a temporary color scheme for it to buy our furniture/stuff around that won’t ruin future homes through poor planning. It’s so easy to say ‘this room is this way, and this room is this way’ and not think about the place as a whole, but in an apartment a cohesive overall is really important. I’m glad I could read this before buying lots of furniture!

  • Excellent post. And one advantage that you didn’t mention is that you end up always having paint on hand, in your carefully chosen colors. So when you pick up the odd thrift item, or if you decide late one night to paint a stripe on the wall etc. it’s so easy to just pick one of the half empty cans of paint you already have and know that it will work.

  • This is a great post! It’s helpful for me, so if that makes me a huge dork too, that’s fine 🙂 I think one difference for me is renting vs owning a home, too. When you own it, there’s something that makes you want to plan it out more and be more sophisticated, for lack of a better way to describe it.

    We do have a huge living room/dining room/entryway area, so we wanted to paint it a bold color and went with goldenrod yellow with a teal accent wall. It’s a little wild, but it really helps fill the space. This means we’re going to go neutral with just about every other room in the house (thinking light seafoam for a relaxing bedroom color) to help balance out that front area. But, that is where we do most of our entertaining, so I think it really sets the mood. I’m just going to have to find more fun pops of color to incorporate through the rest of the house with all those neutrals. 🙂


  • I live in a studio apartment, so color flowing from space to space is very important. I’m working on finding the balance between creating different spaces (sleeping, living, dining) without chopping up my already tiny apartment. Color to the rescue!

  • I love color. My colors are ~

    kitchen ~ red
    dining room ~ golden yellow on the top ~ beadboard on the bottom half
    computer/washer/dryer room ~ pale green
    living room ~ light beige
    bathroom ~ dk grey on top ~ beadboard on the bottom
    master bedroom ~ very light grey
    spare bedroom ~ a grayish-greenish color (I would love to repaint to brighten it up)

    I had forgotten you had a Big Chill Fridge ~ will you be taking it with you?

  • This is fabulous and so inspiring – I would have no idea how to limit my color story down – I want them all! But this is a good guide on how to start – thanks!

    Warm Regards,

  • I totally agree with these tips! 🙂 when I started planning my uni bedroom, my mum advised me to pick certain shades because the shades I was choosing (white and lilac) were colours that would leave me sleepy. Too sleepy for my also study room 🙂

    Xoxo Jessy

  • Oh I love this idea I’ve never heard of it before! I would definitely use this when I get my own home.. Thank you so much for sharing!


  • This post was crazy-helpful. I’m so glad you wrote it around the same time as we’re shopping for a new home! Selecting a palette is always the most difficult part of a project for me, from decorating a home to selecting fabrics for a quilt. I wear a ton of black (simple city uniform) but wouldn’t want it on my walls, so the other tips were especially useful. Thank you!

  • i love this. I have never lived without a roommate so I have never had a say over the entire house (solely) but I have done something similar for my own spaces within homes. it is so nice being able to switch things up between rooms if you want. I have also been trying to really buy or make things that are intentional rather than just because I think they are cute in the moment, which has also been helpful. 🙂

  • I really loved this post!!! I think the effort you put into pondering and picking out your color scheme really paid off as your home is stunning (I can’t wait to see what you do in your new home)

    You discussed color schemes in your book and I took this advice and applied it to my own home, since I have done this I have really seen my space transform and become much more cohesive without looking staged (if you know what I mean)

    On a different topic I would really love to see you do a series of posts on choosing decorating schemes for parties, that would be fun!! Xxx

  • Love this. We’re in Europe for two years and in a rental so all our extra time/money is going into traveling, but when we move back to the states it will be more permanent. This will be a great idea for when we come back and I can start on it anytime! Fun!

  • Love this post! So many good tips! My boyfriend and I hope to own a home soon, so I will definitely be referencing this! Which brings me to a question.. can you provide any insight on working with Mr. Larson on your color story? Did he have any part in the decorating process or did he leave it up to you? I’m curious!

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