Ask The Designer: How To Give Your Home A Splash of Color

With the bold hues of summer just around the corner, it’s a great time to draw design inspiration from the great outdoors. Here, Haskell Matheny, ASID, CAPS, shares how to freshen up any space with bright tints – without committing common color faux pas.


So you want to add a bright color to your home, but how do you select the right one? Here are three guidelines to help you pick the right shade for your home and personality.

Don’t work from a chip. No one – not even professionals! – can determine how a paint color will look by judging from a small chip. Instead, purchase a small sample of the paint and brush a few strokes on a side wall and a wall opposite a window. This will give you a far more accurate sense of how it will appear in your space.

Observe around the clock. Look at the paint color in the morning and in the evening. Before you settle on a shade, you show learn how it appears throughout the day. You may love how it looks in the morning, only to discover it makes the room feel dark and cramped at night!

Be inspired by your wardrobe. Not sure what color you want to use as an accent? Look to your closet. We tend to wear colors that we enjoy and make us feel great. Find a color that you wear a lot, even in accessories. There is your answer!


Once you’ve settled on the color you want, the trick becomes how and where to place it. Here are three guidelines for smart use:

Follow the rule of “one or three.” To maximize the visual impact of an accent color, keep it to one or three items in a room. If you’re looking for high drama, think about using the color on only one item or in one place. If you want to infuse the room with color, but not get overwhelmed, scatter three items in that hue throughout the room. The effect will be a space blanketed in color.

Place the color throughout your home.Once you’ve found a color that you like, consider adding small doses of it throughout your home in various items and places. This will create a cohesive look that is full of color without becoming overpowering.

Decide on a focal point.When you use a color in an otherwise neutral room, it has the power to draw the eye’s attention right away. Use this to highlight a noteworthy feature of the room, rather than placing it just anywhere. For example, if you have a view of your neighbors’ driveway, don’t place red drapery around the window. Rather, place a pair of red accent chairs on the opposite wall to draw attention to your beautiful fireplace mantel.



Now that you know the color you want and how you want to use it, how do you decide on the right elements? Here are six ideas:

A piece of furniture: Think about recovering a sofa or chair in a vibrant fabric, or painting an existing piece in a bright hue. It’s a great way to bring a simple piece to life with an extra dose of personality.

Artwork: A painting with a bold color can really add life to a room and make the wall it’s on a real focal point.

Draperies: A bold fabric around a window can really brighten up a room. If you don’t want to paint, draperies can be a great alternative for getting color on a wall.

A Rug: A colorful rug can anchor a space and provide a generous amount of a color to a room.

An accent wall: To infuse an entire space with color, sometimes all you need to do is paint or wallpaper one wall in a vivid shade. Consider creating an accent wall on a focal area like a bookcase or fireplace wall.

Accessories: If you have accessories and objects of the same color, group them together on a table or gather them on a tray rather than scattering them all across the room. This will maximize their visual impact.


Haskell Matheny, ASID, CAPS is the owner
and principal designer of Haskell Interiors,
located in historic downtown Cleveland,
Tennessee. Visit online at

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