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How to Use Color, Pattern, & Texture in Home Decorating

Updated on September 10, 2012
Lily Rose profile image

I should have been an interior designer! I love decorating, home decor & taking on projects and helping others do the same.

Have you ever given a room a new coat of paint and felt the difference it made?  Color can instantly change the look and feel of any room.  Paint is where you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to decorating.  It also is a great way to infuse a room with personality.  Color can be a huge challenge for some people because of its striking result.  Ease into the world of color with the use of a color wheel. 

What Does a Color Wheel Do?

A color wheel is a great tool when considering what colors to incorporate into a room – it lets you see what colors will work well in combination.  You may also want to consider playing with different shades of the same color tone.  If you do use more than one color – which most people do – make sure to stick with the same intensity; in other words, don’t use deep colors and pale pastel colors together. 


If you’re decorating a room that’s large, like a family room with vaulted ceilings, use warm colors because they can make the room feel more intimate. On the other hand, if you’re decorating a small room or even a hallway, using cool color tones and neutrals will make it feel larger because these colors appear to recede, whereas the warm colors appear to advance.

How Do You Use a Color Wheel?

If you know a few tricks, color can work magic!  Every color has inherent evocative characteristics.  Examples are:  Red is stimulating, so it would be a good choice for a dining room where you want lively conversation.  Blue is restful which is why it is a popular color for bedrooms.  Your individual response to a color is personal which is why it’s important to select colors that you love in your home décor.

The color wheel includes all of the primary colors – red, blue, and yellow – and the secondary colors which are made by combining primary colors – green, orange, and violet.  Tertiary colors, which are a combination of primary and secondary colors and they are included on the color wheel as well – an example is turquoise, which is created by mixing primary blue with secondary green.  Look at the color wheel to get an idea of how colors relate to each other.

A harmonious (also referred to as analogous) color scheme involves colors that are neighbors on the color wheel that share an underlying hue.  Select a dominant color, and then pick accent colors from adjacent colors on the wheel. 

Contrasting – or complementary – colors (like blue and orange) which are opposite each other on the color wheel often work well together.  You will need to play with various shades of complementary colors; however, to make sure they don’t overpower the room.  Involving an additional set of opposite colors from the color wheel is referred to as a double-complementary color scheme.  An example would be green-blue, red-orange.

A scheme that’s monochromatic can be boring unless you use several shades of the same color – but be sure not to use too many contrasting values of the color. 


Introducing pattern to a room energizes it. If you want the feel of drama and strength, use the same pattern throughout the room.

For a more lively effect, mix and match your patterns. When mixing and matching, always select a recurring color or theme. Avoid using more than one pattern of a similar scale; pair a large motif with a small print.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
energizing enough for you?here's a more subtle large pattern that still gives the room energy
energizing enough for you?
energizing enough for you?
here's a more subtle large pattern that still gives the room energy
here's a more subtle large pattern that still gives the room energy

Playing It Up with Pattern

Using pattern throughout a room can make it a lot of fun.  Sort of like warm colors advance, large patterns fill a space and make it feel cozy.  Patterns also create a lively atmosphere.  Large patterns work well in small areas, too, but make sure to stick with one pattern and use it throughout the room – but don’t overpower the room with a pattern that’s too bold and way out of proportion.

Small-scale patterns appear to recede, so they could make a room feel larger.  The effect of a small pattern, however, is minimal in a large room since it’s hard to interpret from a distance.  A great rule of thumb is to use large patterns on large furnishings, medium on medium, and small prints on small things such as accent pieces. 


Texture doesn’t always have an extremely obvious impact on a room, but it can help create a sophisticated room in a subtle way by adding another layer of complexity.  Layering contrasting textures of fabrics, floor coverings, wall finishes, and window treatments gives a room character.

Texture provides depth and dimension to a space.  You can easily incorporate texture into a design with fabric – brocades, damask, chenilles, tweeds and some other fabrics with texture can work well.  Tactile interest can be brought in with other objects, too – like materials that have surface texture such as smooth, hard, soft, matte or shiny.  Coarse and matte surfaces (like stone, wood, stucco…) absorb light and sound.  Glossy and smooth surfaces (metal, glass, silk…) reflect light. 


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    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      Terrific advice, once again.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

      Thank you!

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Nicely done!

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      This is perfect, I'm about to have our home repainted. Thanks for the info.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

      Glad I could help - that's what it's all about!

    • AuntySa profile image

      AuntySa 6 years ago from Austalia

      That is just great. Nice tips in choosing the right colors.

    • Jesus_saves_us_7 profile image

      Jesus_saves_us_7 6 years ago from Seeking Salvation

      Thanks for the information. Great job.

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 6 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Just the sort of information I have been looking for, thanks!

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

      I'm glad I could provide it! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Sarah Jones profile image

      Sarah Jones 6 years ago from UK

      Great Hub! Thanks ;)

    • SUSIE405 profile image

      SUSIE405 6 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      Love your hub. I love to decorate with color. I find beige and brown boring. I am getting ready to decorate a new apartment and will use bold color, it cheers me up.

    • PaperNotes profile image

      PaperNotes 6 years ago

      Thanks for this color wheel. It is actually hard to decorate the home space if you do not have any idea which colors will blend and look well together.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Very good information on color and decorating. I like this!

    • Maria Harris profile image

      Maria Harris 5 years ago from Houston

      Very useful tips. I like the way you presented this hub.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 5 years ago from East Coast

      Thank you!

    • snug39 profile image

      snug39 5 years ago

      Love the explanation of the color wheel. It is very informative and easy to follow.

    • Sun-Girl profile image

      Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

      Excellent hub which really informed me a lot.

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