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Home Decorating: Color Tips

Dear Dr. Dave & Dr. Dee,

Please settle this discussion regarding room colors. My husband thinks the rug, walls and furniture would look better in a similar color. This seems very boring to me and I would prefer more color in the room and would like a bolder look. Am I right, or is there a compromise?


At odds

Dear At odds,

You are both right depending on which room you are decorating. Mark McCauley of offers these five room color tips:

1. 60-30-10 Rule

60% of a dominant color (i.e. walls); 30% of a secondary color (i.e. furniture upholstery); 10% of an accent color (i.e. accent pieces, floral arrangement)

2. Choose a Color Scheme

a. Complementary: For example, on the color wheel, complementary colors are across from each other such as blue and yellow. There is a clear separation of colors and complementary colors are best for formal areas such as the living room or dining room.

b. Analogous: For example, on the color wheel, analogous colors are next to each other such as blue and purple. Analogous colors are best for informal areas such as family rooms and bedrooms.

3. Don't Forget the Black

Black accent pieces such as a picture frame, lampshade, or decorative piece enhances the other colors in the room.

4. Follow Nature's Lead

Replicate the color values or shades of nature. For example, darker colors for the floor (ground), medium for walls (trees), and light for ceiling (sky).

5. Pull From the Pattern

Choose a color scheme based upon the largest pattern in the room. For example, if an Oriental rug is the largest pattern in the room, then choose colors from the rug using the 60-30-10 rule.

For more information, see McCauley: Colorize Your Kitchen at