How Many Colors Should Go In Your Color Palette?

Are you trying to figure out your color palette, but you’re not sure how many colors to use?

I thought this might be something that I could shed some light on. I’ve got three tips toe help you make that decision. And if you’re wondering if your wall color should be one of those colors, I’m addressing that too.

What Is Your Inspiration?

Look at the thing that you’re drawing the inspiration from, and use that as your guide. That could be a rug, a piece of fabric or a painting. These are the things that I like to use because someone who knows a lot about colors created them.

If it’s a rug and the rug has five colors, and you want to use five colors in the room, that’s fine. If the rug has five colors, and you want to use three colors. That’s also fine.

There are no rules. But, don’t despair. That’s not the end of the story.

Intention Matters More Than The Number

You want to use the colors that you do choose with intention. And you want that to be OBVIOUS when you look at the room.

I found a great example of this in a magazine recently (not my style, but the lesson is there). You can see this stylist is drawing their inspiration from the rug and they’re using the colors in the rug Intentionally throughout the room.

In the pillows, the books, the artwork, the throw blanket. It’s very obvious that they’re using the colors that they’re drawing Intentionally. Whether it’s three colors, two colors, or five colors.

Here’s another example where they’re drawing the inspiration from the artwork and then they’re intentionally using the colors orange and a green throughout the room.

Don’t Use Color Evenly

How ever many colors you choose, don’t use them evenly in your room. Here’s an example. If your colors are blue, red, and cream, you don’t want to use each color 33%. Pick one color that’s more of a dominant color and use the other colors, how many ever you choose, as accent colors.

color mix 1

Our eye doesn’t like to see colors evenly. It likes to see one color more dominantly than the others.

There’s a rule that some designers use called the 60/30/10. You choose one color and use it 60% to fill 60% of the space. Then pick a second color and they use it more like 30% and then use any other colors 10% of the places.

color mix example 2

Do You Need To Use Color On Your Walls?

The second part of this question was about using paint. Do you need to use your wall color, or is there a right wall color for your room?

Painting can really transform a space, but you don’t have to use your wall color to set your color palette. Here’s an example.

This wall color is white, but this room has a lot of color. They didn’t use the walls to set the color palette, and you don’t have to.

In fact, if you live in an apartment, or someplace that you’re renting, You can have a beautiful color palette without using the walls to tell the color story. You just need to use the colors in your fabrics, your draperies, your rug, and your artwork, and of course your accessories.

If you’re looking for more tips on how to use color, I written a previous post about how to get your color inspiration, and how to do it if you want to use fabric.

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