Take heart, though: Even the most color-shy people don’t have to be banished to a home filled with various shades of beige forever. Gannon and other designers say there are plenty of ways to become more receptive to using bold colors — without going overboard. Whether you’re working with a pro or revamping your space on your own, here are some tips to keep top of mind before committing to that fuchsia powder room.
Make a list of your favorite colors. Before taking on a new project, Denver-based designer Nadia Watts asks her clients what shades resonate with them. “With this information, I will stretch [clients’] comfort zones by suggesting colors just outside of the familiar area,” she says. She highlights undertones within the colors, “so [clients] are able to digest and support moving in this direction.” Not working with a pro? Simply head to your local paint store, where you can check out an array of colors. “Say you are done with gray and ready for a change,” Watts says. “Gray typically has a cool undertone, so start looking at blues that have a little bit of green in them. You can always go lighter or darker on the spectrum, depending on how dramatic you want your room.”
If you’re having trouble determining your favorite hues, take a peek inside your closet. “If there is a color or color family that you seem to enjoy wearing a lot of, this gives you a good indication of what colors you will enjoy having in your home,” says designer Emma Kemper, owner of New York-based Emma Beryl Interiors.
Start small. Designers agree that gradually introducing small, nonpermanent pieces is a good way to dip your toes into more colorful design. Try incorporating throw pillows, accessories and art with vibrant hues. “Adding in these items helps to get a person used to seeing color,” says Los Angeles designer Linda Hayslett of LH.Designs. “Then, after a while, start adding more into the mix.”
Try a bedding refresh. Kemper particularly enjoys introducing color to a space with bedding. “A bed takes up so much surface area in your bedroom and is a perfect canvas to layer in rich colors, textures and patterns,” she says. “A blank white bed often feels like a hole in the middle of a space to me and is a missed opportunity.”
Take a balanced approach. If you’re considering incorporating a vibrant upholstered piece into your space, remember that balancing bolder colors with more subdued shades is key, Gannon says. “Think about a movie: There are a few stars of the show and supporting cast members. All are important to make the room successful,” she says. Gannon suggests going for a forest green sofa, for example, and tying in softer hues, as well as a few patterned pillows, to keep it from being overwhelming.
Be thoughtful with paint. If you do wish to coat the walls with color, consider first taking a more subtle approach. “Introducing vibrant paint colors can be done on a smaller scale, with half-painted walls and painting doors a bright hue,” says Molly Torres Portnof of Brooklyn-based Date Interiors.
In addition, designers frequently recommend going bold in smaller or less frequently used spaces. The powder room is an excellent place to introduce vibrant colors to the home, says Sydney Markus, a designer at Anthony Wilder Design/Build in Cabin John, Md. “Because a powder room is a small space, it’s easier to take risks and add color and pattern for a dramatic impact,” she says. “Also consider wallpaper, which is affordable in such a small space.”
Additionally, although Markus enjoys designing neutral, serene primary bedrooms, she will take more risk with color in guest rooms. “You want to incorporate a color that lasts many years, one that has longevity, unlike a guest room, where you can take more color risks and change it up like a hotel room,” she says.
And if you change your mind down the line? Don’t fret, because paint is easily remedied. “Go ahead and take the leap,” Watts says. “It is just paint, and you can always have a do-over.”
Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and stylist in New York. Find her on Instagram: @sarahlyon9.