Five Color Tricks Everyone Should Know

By JoAnne Lenart-Weary-Color Expert

Color is the building block of any beautiful room and can make or break a space. The furniture can be fabulous, but if it is in a color story you don’t like, it will never make you happy.  The architecture may be amazing but painted in a color that makes you cringe…oh vey!

For over 40 years ago, I have had the pleasure of helping people create beautiful homes for selling and dwelling. At the beginning, my color expertise was based on my own “good eye for color” and let’s be honest…my personal preferences. I soon understood I needed to create color harmonies that touched my client, visually and emotionally. It wasn’t about me…not in the least.  So here are ten of my color tricks I have used all these years that have helped me delight my clients.

  1. What is your favorite Color?  The question you should never ask…because it doesn’t clarify a thing.  When I say red, you may visualize a rich warm red, a cool vibrant red or a neutralized red.   Perhaps green is your buzz color, is it an earthy green, a blue-green or a yellow-green?  Define and clarify to find your jumping off color point in a room.
  2. Establish the Ratio- Multiple rooms could have the same color story but feel completely different, because of the way the color was proportioned in the space. We all have heard the 60-30-10 guideline. This simple use of 3 colors works time and time again, as it is easy on the eye.  If your jumping off point is red, will it be the dominant, secondary or accent color?  By simply changing the proportion of the color, you can completely change the overall feel of the room, visually and emotionally.
  3. Marry the Colors-Whatever your color story, something needs to make the color story make sense. That may be a rug, piece of art, textiles or furniture. By marrying the colors, the color story seems purposeful and intended. Look at these décor elements from Wayfair to see how they could help establish a color palette.
  4. Use Value like Mother Nature-Color has 3 elements, Hue, (the color family) Saturation, (the intensity) and Value. (the light or dark aspect of a color) When you look at a strip of colors in a paint store, they are typically lighter colors at the top of a strip leading to darker versions of the same color in the same strip. If you look outside, (unless covered by snow) Mother Nature used the deeper or darker values at ground level, leading up to light values in the sky. The transition from ground to sky, is interspersed with dark and mid-values in tree branches and flora colors.  Use the same concept in your space, by keeping darker values low, such as floor colors, furniture, etc. But create balance with dark touches, such as darker frames, art or cabinetry.
  5. Do the Unexpected-We have all heard it before, small room, you must paint it light. Or a dark room must be painted in light colors.  Whoa, hold on there, do whatever you darn well please.  My kitchen is small and one small window that faces north…it is always dark. But I painted my cabinets black and opted to go for contrast, as I needed to turn on the lights whether my kitchen cabinets were white or black.  I use the classic combination of black and white with buffalo check wallpaper and black cabinets. The unexpected resulted in a much more interesting space.


    There is so much more I would love to share but I hope these five points will help you approach color selection with more confidence.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at