How to Build a Color Palette in 5 Simple Steps

Color palettes are the secret to giving every makeover that tied together look, but how do you build one? We’re sharing some simple steps to help you put together a palette of your own for your next DIY project.

A vignette of a sitting area with white walls and a yellow arm chair.

Step 1: Start with the Space

Unless you’re doing a floor-to-ceiling overhaul, the first place to start when building a color palette is figuring out what’s staying. You can easily switch up blankets and throw pillows to match your new look, but fixed pieces like floors and countertops need to be worked into your palette if they’re not going anywhere. Paying attention to existing colors and tones in your room will help you create a coordinating color scheme that all flows together. 

Step 2: Find Inspiration

Inspiration is everywhere, so where do you start? Sometimes you might have a style you already gravitate toward – if that’s the case, the colors and patterns you love are probably already in your home. If you’re starting with a blank slate, you can find inspiration anywhere from artwork and magazines to Pinterest and Instagram. No matter where you look, these sources are the perfect way to get an idea of the colors and styles that speak to you. 

A laptop and mobile device showing inspiration images,

DIY TIP: Want to pull colors from a picture you love? Our ColorSnap® Visualizer app matches the colors in any photo with a coordinating paint color.

Step 3: Pick a Color Scheme

You can always lean on classic schemes like monochromatic or complementary, but did you know an emotional side comes into play too? Color is a powerful way to infuse a space with personality, so it’s just as important to think about the mood you want to create. If you love a space that feels dramatic, you can explore a color scheme that’s bold and saturated, but if you’re looking to create a natural color scheme, soft and earthy hues can help you get the look. This simple trick helps narrow down the color families and tones you want to stick with for your palette. 

GIF of color chips populating one at a time. Colors include Woven Wicker, Urbane Bronze, Shoji White, and Evergreen Fog.

DIY TIP: Check out our guide on Color Theory to learn more about tones and each color family.  

Step 4: Choose Your Base Color

The foundation of every palette starts with your base or primary color – aka the color you’ll use the most. Since your base makes up the biggest part of your palette, it’s important to choose something relaxing to the eye. Neutrals offer the most versatility because they go with anything and are easy to build off, but that doesn’t mean you have to go white or gray either. Shades like Evergreen Fog, Urbane Bronze, and Naval all have neutral undertones.

Step 5: Build Your Color Palette

You’ve planned, prepped, and picked your base color – now it’s time to layer in some more hues. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule on how many colors to use, a great place to start is choosing a secondary and accent color. If you stick with a palette of three colors, keep the 60-30-10 rule in mind – 60% of the space should be your primary color, 30% should be the secondary color and 10% should be your accent color. If you want to add more than three colors, you can build a bigger palette with varying shades of complementary colors to give yourself a few more hues to work with. 

Once you have an idea of how many colors you want, the key is to mix and match until you’ve found a combination you love. Color chips are our favorite way to mix and match when you’re building a palette, and you can order them online for FREE!  

A GIF of a room being layered with furniture.
Featured Color: Evergreen Fog SW 9130

DIY TIP: A color palette goes beyond the walls by helping you find decor and furniture in similar shades to create a seamlessly styled space.  

Ready to try building a color palette? Drop a comment below to share which room you’re making over, and if you need a little extra guidance along the way, you can also request a FREE Virtual Color Consultation to work with one of our Color Experts.

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