One of the most surprising after-effects of the pandemic is the surge in interest in colorful room ideas. It seems we spent the lockdowns scrutinizing our homes and deciding that those safe, neutral schemes that provided the backdrop to our lives needed a pep up, with color the go-to way to quickly transform them.
But how to go bold from bland? 'Interior designers use hard-won learnings to choose colorful room ideas that will suit specific spaces and the clients they are decorating for,' says Sarah Spiteri, Editorial Director, Homes & Gardens. 'But the room color ideas that you choose should also simply appeal to you and suit the purpose of the space, and, of course, you can adjust the tone of the colors to make them more muted if needs be.'
Below, we share the expertise of our team and design professionals to show you how to create colorful rooms you will love.
Colorful room ideas
Whether the colorful room ideas you are considering are bold and beautiful like those below, or more muted, it is always worth consulting the color wheel to ensure you get the color combinations just right.
1. Layer color and pattern for an uplifting living space
If you are looking for colorful room ideas, often the best way to find home decor ideas is to look to your favorite artists' work.
'Inspired by the exuberance of Ukrainian-born artist Sonia Delaunay’s work, this living room scheme is pure joy. Delaunay’s ability to create rhythm and depth through overlapping shapes and vibrant hues translates beautifully into interiors,' says Homes & Gardens' Decorating Editor Emma Thomas.
'A patchwork layering of colors and a masterclass in mixing patterns and prints results in a room full of chic flamboyance.
2. Go for all-over color for impact
One of the decorating ideas that has really gained pace with interior designers over the past few years is painting or wallpapering ceilings. No longer forgotten, all-white areas, treatments of the 'fifth wall' range from simple ceiling paint ideas like this one to focal point ceiling wallpaper ideas.
The effect? To create a cocooning, intimate space that's perfect for living spaces and beyond. And if you're looking for impactful entryway color ideas, why not consider this look? Decorating with blue in a space that has plenty of natural light creates an atmosphere of calm that is perfect for a busy thoroughfare we don't spend much time in, which means you can go for a deeper shade than you might do elsewhere.
'Working with shades of blue is endlessly interesting – and playing with tones and textures can change it from subtle and serene to a vibrant jewel box,' says Samantha Todhunter, founder Samantha Todhunter Design (opens in new tab).
'It's an intense blue that allows you to layer in textures and finishes to offer relief and vibrance to a space,' agrees Scott Maddux, co-founder, Maddux Creative (opens in new tab).
3. Pick accent colors and use them boldly
If you have fallen in love with an exuberant wallpaper and want to use it to create a living room feature wall or one in any other space, you might be tempted to keep the rest of your decor muted to allow it to shine.
But that can be a mistake: you can ramp up colorful room ideas to create impact and also make your design choices feel more confident and purposeful – the space above is a fantastic case in point, with the accent color ideas (red and green) taking equal precedence to wallpaper itself..
It also shows how decorating with green can be particularly successful when adjacent to an outdoor space.
'If you think of the color green in the garden, it's the backdrop for the whole setting – the foliage, grass and trees,' explains Emma Deterding, founder and creative director of Kelling Designs (opens in new tab). 'You can really see how any color can go with it. It adds a freshness and provides a base from which personality can shine through, setting the one for the rest of the home.'
4. Add drama with a bold rug design
Colorful room ideas aren't just about the walls, as we've seen above; you can transform neutral room ideas really quickly by making your floor the star of the show with a striking colorful rug.
However, interior designer Nina Campbell (opens in new tab) does have this cautionary advice when decorating with rugs, and it's really about tempering your use of bold designs: 'Be sure to balance bold and calm flooring. A leopard print runner can look wonderful up a staircase, for example, but the stairs would need to lead onto a calm, neutral floor on the landing for balance.'
Shapely modern furniture in vibrant block colors complement a playfully patterned abstract rug design from Roger Oates (opens in new tab) inspired by the interplay of colour and bold shapes.
5. Make your room color ideas subtle
Decorating with primary colors is for the very bold, but you can see how the simple addition of accessories in very vibrant shades can give you a colorful room without any decorating needed.
Consider the effect you want to create and tune down bright colors, choosing earthier or more muted shades to give rooms a more grown up, elegant look if that suits the mood of the space and your taste better.
'In particular, bright primary yellow can be quite harsh and childlike within an interior despite its sunny, positive connotations,' says Mike Fisher, creative director and founder of Studio Indigo (opens in new tab). He likes to use darker yet richer autumnal versions of yellows in an ochre or saffron hue which work well with petrol blues and purples.
6. Bring your vacation home
Though designers agree that decorating with yellow is tricky, there's no doubting its ability to create joyful spaces; and if you're not brave enough to use it in walls, it can still create impact and surprise used on furniture.
'Yellow can create a mellow and uplifting interior all at the same time. It transports us back to long lazy sun-drenched days and it can brighten us up on gloomy days,' says Martin Waller, of global design brand Andrew Martin (opens in new tab).
'It works brilliantly with blues, teals, greens and reds, and for real crisp freshness use with white.'
7. Use furniture for an injection of bold color
If you are looking for kitchen color ideas but are cautious about committing to boldly bright cabinetry and really colorful kitchen ideas, why not limit your colorful room ideas to just one or two pieces of furniture?
Painted kitchen ideas like the one above are a great compromise in the battle of safe choices versus color indulgence: the kitchen itself is an easy to live with deep blue-gray, while the pink pantry gives the room lift and character.
Emma Bulmer, head of color consultancy at Edward Bulmer Natural Paint (opens in new tab), recommends pairing dusky pinks with deeper hues like this. 'It creates high contrast and adds some drama while remaining soft and tonally consistent,' says Emma.
8. Use upbeat color to make a dining area a joyful place to gather
Obviously, it's not just about the colorful room ideas that you choose, but how you use them, and you can maximize their effect by picking out bright pieces with intriguing silhouettes, shapes and patterns. If you are looking for dining room color schemes, this room, created for a recent Homes & Gardens photo shoot, could be a wonderful inspiration.
'The shapes are as outstanding as the playful colors here, yet the room has an elegant simplicity because of the clean lines and pureness of the color,' says Decorating Editor Emma Thomas.
'The glossy petrol blue of the Knoll dining table from The Conran Shop (opens in new tab) takes center stage, complemented by the painterly greens and blues of the linear print of the fabric design on the Ceraudo (opens in new tab)chairs.
'A colorful yellow rug and red pendant add to the color story, all echoed in the abstract artwork which help pull the scheme together. The palest blue linen sheers add a softness.'
9. Consider paint finishes to heighten colorful choices
You may think we have chosen this room as a great example of decorating with red. While we love this warmly-decorated entryway, it's not so much the color but the paint effect we want to draw your attention to. Because, not only have we seen a rise in the popularity of colorful room ideas, we've also seen interior designers being much more adventurous with paint finishes.
'Designers are much more likely than ever before to use paint tricks to draw even more attention to their color choices, and the main way we have seen them doing this in the past year or so is by using gloss finishes on walls and ceilings,' says Jo Bailey, Homes & Gardens' Deputy Editor.
'If you are considering this, it's vital to ensure that the surface you are painting or wallpapering is perfectly flat and even; any bumps, lumps or cracks in walls or ceilings will simply be starkly highlighted by a finish with a sheen to it.'
Interior designer Brandon Schubert (opens in new tab) is a fan of this technique. 'This can work really well with dark colors where you want to keep the light bouncing around the room,' he says.
10. Choose hallway accessories to reflect colors used elsewhere
If you are looking for hallway color ideas, you may want to err on the side of caution in order to create a linking space that works with all the rooms beyond.
This is, however, an opportunity. Choose an eye-catching wallcovering that is (more or less) neutral and display bright accessories and artwork against it that are purposefully in the colors of the rooms that lead off the space, and you will create a cleverly cohesive feel throughout the whole house.
This delicate geometric wallpaper design from Christopher Farr Cloth (opens in new tab) is part of the archive collection of abstract artist, Sandra Blow, known for her large-scale, organic shapes and collage effects. The subtle yet painterly backdrop in gentle sky blue shades allows artwork and accessories in primary colors to dazzle.
11. Inject vivid color into a bedroom with a bright headboard
If you are looking for bedroom color ideas, the quickest way to create a dramatic transformation is with a new headboard.
Large-scale headboard ideas will make the biggest impact, but in a room with a low ceiling, you may want to choose a low profile piece; in which case, go for a design with an exciting graphic pattern.
This headboard, covered in a textural Casamance (opens in new tab) embroidery fabric in rich jewel tones, creates a focal point for an otherwise calm bedroom scheme in a palette of blues.
12. Layer up a monochromatic scheme
However, if you are going to rely on a one-color approach, you need to introduce more than one pattern to add interest, visual layering and character.
'There are no rules for patterns – the mix-and-match approach has evolved dramatically over the years,' says interior designer Penny Morrison (opens in new tab). 'Interior designers and decorators now feel braver to combine motifs and textures – and you can too. A home needs character and unexpected patterns and colors are a fantastic way to create this.'
13. Introduce an unexpected splash color
It's received wisdom that bathroom color ideas should be safe. Blue and white bathroom ideas, for example, are a classic choice that are difficult to go wrong with. But why not shake your decor choices up a bit with a color block that is totally unexpected?
This bathroom is the perfect example of how to achieve this: all the fixtures and fittings are in room colors that couldn't possibly offend, but the addition of easy-to-paint-over pink creates a much more impactful space.
'When it comes to color, I believe the more experimental, the more arresting, the better,' says Summer Thornton (opens in new tab), interior designer and author of Wonderland: Adventures in Decorating (opens in new tab). 'The trick is not to hesitate and never be formulaic.'
14. Make a bathroom colorful with sanitaryware
The past year has also seen a rise in popularity of colorful sanitaryware in bathrooms, powder rooms and ensuites. But, if you are ready to commit, don't just limit the color to the fittings, create a coordinated look throughout the space with wall colors and boldly painted trim, too.
'We always recommend being adventurous with color in bathrooms,' says Lucy Barlow, Creative Director of Barlow & Barlow (opens in new tab). 'As secondary spaces, they're great places to experiment. Color drenching is a brilliantly bold technique that can really enhance a smaller room.'
15. Get creative with tiles for a colorful pathwork effect
Feeling brave? A bold tile pattern in a bathroom can create a colorful space to which you will be fully committed. This type of room color idea is perfect for your list of powder room ideas, where bright, bold schemes are not just expected but celebrated by interior designers.
A mix of colorful slim glossy tiles in sea green, dark blue and creamy white from Mandarin Stone (opens in new tab) are applied in a random pattern to create a striking decorative background. The boldness of the red ceramic mirror and black taps ensures they stand out.
How can I make my room more colorful?
The most effective way to make a room more colorful is with paint ideas, for the walls, ceiling and even through painted furniture ideas. Other ways to create colorful rooms include hanging bright artworks, investing in colorful couches and armchairs, or adding colorful pillows to neutral pieces, laying a colorful rug and picking out colorful accessories, such as lamps, vases and even plants.
How do you combine colors in a room?
The most basic principle of finding successful color combinations for rooms is to stick to the 60-30-10 color rule, which means picking out the main/your favorite color and using it in 60% of the space, layering on the secondary color in 30% of the space, then adding in a third color in 10% of the space. To ensure you get the colors you choose right, it is wise to use a color wheel, which will give you a full explanation of color theory to help you combine colors in a room successfully.