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Color Inspiration

Where do you Find Color Inspiration?

As an expert on color, I have a distinct advantage when it comes to making color choices for home decorating. I can walk into a room and instantly know what colors will work in the space. I do have nearly twenty years experience at it, so I should be able to. But what about most people, they only get to choose color once every five years or so for their home? It can appear to be an overwhelming task, so they stick with cream, beige or white, the safe colors for interiors. Then they feel disappointed with the result and all the money they have spent on repainting. It may look fresh and clean, but it is uninspiring.

How do you find color inspiration?

It’s not as hard as you think. You don’t have to look far, you just have to look at yourself. Yes, it is that simple. (Or visit – more about that to come).

I will give you a few examples that I use when I talk to my clients about color. They don’t know it but I am being a little color private eye when I visit them. I take in everything I see and it helps me figure out what sort of people I am dealing with, what they like, what they are comfortable with, how they live, what type of clothes they wear!

You see, we all have favorite colors that we gravitate to, mine is blue, perhaps that is because I was an anxious child and blue had a calming effect on me, who knows, but I am now a busy person and I still gravitate to blue. I know from my color meaning knowledge that this is because it slows me down and lets me catch my thoughts and balance myself. I also know that I was brought up by the beach and surrounded by blue, the sky, the sea. So I have a tendency to use blue a lot in my color schemes. There are often more than one reason why we are attracted to a color.

I had a bachelor client who was keen on the outdoors, I visited his cottage and the inspiration wasn’t hard to find for his color scheme. All his clothes were natural fibers, wool, cotton, leather shoes, all in natural colors. His furniture was entirely timber apart from a leather sofa, the flooring was cork tiles and timber.  He was brought up in a rural setting that had a wonderful autumn season where the trees would all change color. From this I could tell that he would like earthy rustic color tones, I used reds, burnt oranges and warm golds. He absolutely loved the color scheme, he said it made his house a home.

I visited a lighting engineer’s office to get the brief for their color scheme. I couldn’t believe it but they wanted to use ten different colors in their offices. I asked them why, and their reply was because they sat at their desks all day with the heads in their computers and their work was very tedious with a lot of calculations. Having color around the office would break the monotony and evoke some stimulating energy into their day. So I went to town on that color scheme, it was great fun using bright and bold colors and combining them on different walls in the same room.

Those are a few examples of how I find design inspiration for choosing colors.

Of course there are also the obvious examples that I forgot to mention because I just do it without thinking and I forget that people who don’t choose colors everyday for a living don’t know are:

Choosing a painting that you like and using come of the colors in that to get your color scheme started.

Finding a fabric that you like the color of  (you don’t have to necessarily like the pattern) but if the colors work, use it as your inspiration.

A favorite piece of crockery, a vase, a tea cup, a t-shirt, cereal box, model plane, shoes, anything can give you inspiration, it basically comes down to what you like and love.

Here is My Interior Designer Tip for Color Inspiration

It will take you longer to choose colors than me, but that is not a bad thing, it works to your advantage, because it becomes a fun process, you go out and you start looking at things to give you inspiration, you start seeing color and that is a wonderful feeling. You walk through a clothes store and you start to see colors in the clothing, same thing in a toy shop, fabric store, paint store.  All of a sudden you start to take notice of color. After a few days or weeks for some you will find that you keep gravitating to the same range of colors. You will have subconsiously chosen your favorite colors. I can pretty much guarantee that this works everytime.

If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands for the fun process above, there is a short cut way to do this, as there is with everything in life! Go to the library, get as many books and magazines as you can find on design and decorating, get some of those cute little postit notes and start flicking through the books and magazines. Every time you see something that you like, stick a postit note on the page. Once you have been through a few, go back and start looking at all the pages you have marked as liking. You will start to see a common theme, style and color range that you like. There we go, (as my two year old son Charlie would say “Done!”)

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The Easiest Way of all and the Final Shortcut I Offer

Use My Colortopia.  I have partnered with Glidden/Akzo Nobel Paints to write this article but the thoughts and opinions expressed are from my own experience of interior design and using the MyColortopia blog.

I am sure you have seen the large big box in the middle of this article, isn’t it great? You may well have already used it. It is a pretty groovy quiz called My Life My Colors. It is essentially the interior design color private eye that I talked about earlier. It checks out what you are all about and then provides you with some really great color combinations which you can then print or email. I had fun doing it. My Life My Colors is a great tool for giving you color inspiration. In fact it provides more than just this quiz, the My Colortopia blog   is written by some really creative people. They blog about color inspiration ideas, tools and advice about color and the painting process right from the planning stages to getting the paint on the walls. They are experts in their field and the advice is so easy to understand, I think you will be inspired to pick up a roller and get started as they provide you with so much confidence.

My last piece of advice for color inspiration…..stop reading now and give the MyLife My Colors quiz a try.
About the Author – Lee Brown

Lee Brown is the co founder of, she has worked in the Interior Design Industry for over 23 years, specializing in commercial, hospitality, high end architectural homes and retail design. Over the past 13 years Lee and Chris Brown have been collating their wealth of design knowledge to provide free interior decorating education to the world. Make sure you register for your free ecourse today. Free Interior Decorating eCourse