Where to Look for Color Inspiration

Irwin Weiner ASID - "Learning to look" is the heart of intelligent home interior design. Look around you for inspiration on everything from period furnishings to custom finishes - but today I'm waxing poetic about color inspiration. We've just discovered the new Thomas & Hudson book Scarves, and it's filled with over 200 vintage scarves that will give you loads of color ideas.

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Don't just zero-in on a specific color, although you can certainly single out a specific shade of orange and match it up with a paint swatch. Rather go for the fascinating combination of colors you find in scarves. Look at the predominant colors used - those would become your wall and floor colors with dominant upholstered pieces picking up the charge - and the secondary colors - accessories and color bursts and counterpoints throughout the room. Our featured video gives a good overview of colors and their psychological moods - yes, you can also pick color ranges for rooms based on how you feel, and we recommend our earlier article on How Can I Get a Handle on Color Schemes?

Here are some other likely suspects for color inspiration:

  • Room stylings in shelter magazines show great color combinations
  • Fashion store windows - Nordstrom, Bergdorf, Barney's - pop with exciting color combos
  • Nature reveals classic colors to the eye - gardens, wildflowers, arboretums
  • Versions of your favorite colors - "I love blue, but I'm leaning towards a greener blue or a more purply blue" (in other words, narrow down your preference for your favorite shades of blue, green, beige, etc.
  • Movie room stylings usually do great color bursts and combos
  • Big box stores like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel follow fashion, seasons, and decorating trends so look for color stories in displays
  • Different countries tell different color stories, e.g. the whites and blues of Greece versus the browns and warm sandy colors of the Australian Outback
  • Bright colors make a great counterpoint to gray, monotone schemes - look for English books, movies, and other Brit inspirations to find great color contrasts