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Tips for Choosing Color, Room by Room

Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®

Go With the Flow

If your home is filled with unrelated colors in adjoining rooms, it’s likely your décor feels disjointed. The key to creating a balanced flow is to paint rooms with colors that relate to one another.

If your rooms are separated by closed doors this might not seem necessary. But if you live in a house with an open floor plan or one in which rooms connect through wide openings, you’ll want to give each space its own identity to achieve cohesiveness. By creating a colorful relationship between spaces, your home will have a harmonious feel. In addition, it’s also important to pick the right colors to sell your house.  
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Subtle yellow walls allow for vibrant accent colors to change in each room of the house.

 

Pick Your Favorite

If you love lots of color, you can achieve flow and give each room its own character by selecting one hue to be the unifying thread. Usually this joining element is done through woodwork -- baseboards, door and window frames, and molding at the ceiling.

Continuity can also be achieved by limiting your palette to two or three colors that you use in different amounts, applications, or intensities throughout the house to produce a wide range of effects.

If you want to be more subtle, you can highlight color through accessories, fabrics, and furniture. 
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Fabric patterns are an ideal starting point for pretty color schemes.

Crosslink with Color

New houses often feature kitchens and great-rooms that connect physically and visually, separated only by a partial wall or counter. To paint each area a different color, use the partial wall or peninsula as the dividing line.

Unify the two areas by using the same trim color throughout, and reinforce that connection by bringing touches of each area's color into the other. For a smooth transition, choose two colors that are closely related and similar in value.

What's Underfoot
If you paint adjoining rooms in strongly contrasting colors, connect them by using flooring or area rugs that include both colors.
The wall and rug hues don't have to match exactly; one can be slightly darker or lighter than the other, and the eye will still perceive them as closely related.
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A green bedroom with pink accents crosslinks with adjoining rooms done in the same greens and pinks.

Unify with White Trim

Painting all of the trim throughout the house the same color of white is a no-fail way to create a sense of flow from room to room.

There are many shades of white, so select wall colors first, then choose a white that works with all of them. A sour-cream white contrasts crisply with bold colors and harmonizes with softer ones.
In developing the color scheme for your house, select colors that create the mood you would like to achieve. Link an area in your home with wallpaper to emphasize the area's openness and the way the spaces flow into one another.

White trim ensures that these spaces look connected, and reinforces the effect with subliminal cues or markers to make people feel anchored as they move through your house.
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Whether the walls are warm or cool, white trim keeps the room feeling airy and light-filled.

Choose a Limited Palette

Open floor plans, whether in a suburban home, a condominium, or an apartment, allow architects to maximize the feeling of space without increasing square footage. That doesn't mean you have to paint all of the connecting spaces one color.

Give each area its own personality and achieve a unified look by choosing two or three colors that work well together and use them in varying amounts from room to room.

Try and Try Again: Getting just the right color may require several trips to the paint store until you get the right shade. It's important that the wall colors in adjoining spaces be of equal intensity so they balance visually. In the upholstery, rugs, and accessories, however, the color scheme can play out in a range of tones to create variety and interest.

Play with Light

It's a simple fact that light changes the appearance of any given color.
Take the same can of yellow paint and apply it to two rooms, one that receives little natural light and another that's flooded with sunshine, and it will look like two different colors.

To achieve a feeling of continuity and still give each room a subtly different feeling, exaggerate this effect: Choose two closely related hues and apply the lighter one to the sunniest space, imbuing it with a sunny feeling all day long. This works well for L-shape rooms, where one leg of the L is the living area and one leg the dining area.

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