If we’ve learned anything from fashion's whole “stick of butter” phenomenon, it’s that everyone loves a good palette. Color is personal — it’s fundamental to our aesthetic sensibilities. But far more difficult than crafting a sartorial palette each morning, is building a semipermanent one for your home.
For the most part, a “palette” simply refers to the full range of colors in use within any one space. At this moment, your outfit has a palette of its own. So does your bedroom. So does the New York City subway system. But when purchasing curtains, or painting a room, how do you ensure that all the elements in your palette work together? Yes, we all know which hues speak to us. The hard part is discerning, in turn, which colors complement them.
Unfortunately, there’s no go-to template — color theory can be tricky. So in the interest of sparing you an arduous lesson in studio art, we studied up on the basics to help you craft the perfect palette for your home. Below, select the paint color that most calls to you, and let us show you how best to complement it.
Then, if you weren’t already looking to redo your living room, consider a change of plans.
The minimalist has no junk drawer, no patchwork throw pillows, and certainly no desire to oversaturate a living space with patterns. Instead, they want subtle furniture, clean corners, and ample light. Nothing overcrowded, nothing distracting. In fact, they likely purge their closets of all extraneous items on a regular basis for pleasure.
That’s why we’re suggesting they start off with a base shade of satin like Behr's Nano White. The hue is clean and classic — but the added warmth offers more freedom than a more clinical white when it comes to pairings. To add some texture without interrupting the austerity of the space, we recommend a deep, glossy berry red, a subtle beige, a spirited orange, and a layered and earthy green.
The maximalist is that much more unabashed in the color realm. She's unafraid of clash — or overstimulation — on the design front. She likely has an impressive collection of abstract marble sculptures. Our baseline color here is a bold green, bright enough to call attention to itself but deep enough to steer clear of primary territory. It’s a sophisticated shade — as discerning as it is unapologetic.
In the home, maximalism is not merely loudness for the sake of being loud — it’s a much more curated approach. As far as palettes go, to complement this thoroughly botanic green, we’re suggesting a bouncy pink, a warm gold tone, an electric blue, and a fiery schoolhouse red— all of which feel dramatic when paired together, without appearing excessive.
Don’t call it boring — traditional is not the same as uninspired. The traditionalist has a romantic edge — a certain eye for vintage kitsch. These folks have endless patience for flea markets and probably a tendency to drink sherry in the evenings.
On the opposite end of the design spectrum, we have the eccentric. Unlike the maximalist, who prefers elevated, intentional color, the eccentric is in it for the shock value. We’re talking loud, poppy colors, theatrical decor, and an utter devotion to the power clash. This is the sort of person who might have taxidermy on display beside a set of Pop Art prints.
As far as colors go, the eccentric is best suited to an aquatic blue-green. Building from there, we advise a raven black, a friendly pale brown, a delicate ecru white, and more standard eggshell. They’ll complement one another without “matching” per se, which is precisely the sort of contrast the eccentric is looking for.
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