The Art of Adding Color to a Space

March 18, 2024

There is an art to adding color to a space. The most effective and affordable way to do this is through paint. Working with color is a creative process that – like most things – takes experimentation, exploration, planning and some basic understanding of color theory. But remember to have fun along the way!

Complementary colors, which are opposite each other on the color wheel, can create a vibrant yet simplistic look when paired. Whereas the triad color scheme, a most favored number in interior design, uses three hues that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. When working with kitchens, a triad could be cabinet colors, walls and ceiling/hard surfaces as the three main areas for adding color.

Familiarizing yourself with tools like color wheels and digital apps can be invaluable in this process and encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Here are other ideas for inspiration:

Be open. Looking at design magazines, Pinterest, the outdoors – anything can inspire your color scheme! For example, a great piece of artwork can provide you with an instant palette and a base to work from.

Start small. If you’re new to playing with bolder colors, begin by painting an accent wall. It’s a great way to add a bright or bold shade without being overwhelming and allows you to be playful without breaking the bank. Note: Use a super-premium paint and consider the finish – a glossier sheen will add lots of drama (and shine), while eggshell or matte will be more subdued.

Create balance. Try to balance your vibrant color with a neutral tone or a soft white somewhere in furniture, art, or accessories. This approach ensures your space feels inviting, not chaotic, and gives your eye a resting place.

Consider the natural light. Remember, natural light significantly affects how a color looks. Test your paints in different lighting conditions to see how they change throughout the day and at night in artificial light. Using color tools that are made from real paint (not printed reproductions) will ensure that what you test is what you will get.

Keep it personal. Most importantly, choose colors that resonate with YOU, especially when it is a more vibrant palette that you’ll interact with daily. Your space, your home, should reflect your unique tastes and personality.

Think about the mood. Colors set the mood of a room. For instance, most blues have a calming effect, while reds are more energizing. Think about the vision you want to create before you choose a shade; this way, the intention of the space and the atmosphere work in harmony.

Consider alternate views. These are what you view and observe when looking into a space from another perspective – how neighboring colors in other areas lead into the space and connect. Even with a bold dash of color, the room should connect with other spaces, so there is an ebb and flow with color, a visual journey and storytelling that complement and enhance the overall design theme.

Specific tips for choosing kitchen and bathroom colors. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most used daily spaces. The kitchen, aka “the heartbeat of the home,” is more active, while bathrooms tend to be more functional and calming – which should be considered in terms of the feeling you want to achieve. This feeling or mood happens through your color choices. Remember the sheen. Because of the water used in both areas, we recommend using an eggshell or satin, which both work in areas with condensation. Use a paint that is specifically designed for kitchens and bathrooms, like C2 Cabinet & Trim.

Get creative in the powder room. These small spaces can act as mini-showrooms, giving you carte blanche to take risks on a smaller scale and without worrying about steam from a shower or bath affecting your choices. This is your opportunity to try any color without the stress of it being in a large, visible area. Jewel box powder rooms and guest bathrooms have the opportunity to be show-stopping spaces and come to life with brighter paint color combinations, jazzy wallpapers (don’t forget the ceiling!), trendy tile, and bling light fixtures. It’s the perfect place to experiment and add drama for some louder color conversation.

—By Philippa Radon, color and design expert, C2 Paint

Photo credit: C2 Paint