Accent Color Usage

Accent colors are colors that are used for emphasis in a color scheme. These colors can be bold or more subtle to create the style the user desires.  They are usually used sparingly, to emphasize, contrast or create visual rhythm. It controls the eye and mind of the viewer.

Using warm colors like red, yellow or orange or a combination of these on a large piece of furniture or wall can be overwhelming if not done properly. Accents can tone down the color or pull it out to be more bold.  When someone walks into a room, that first impression is what they will remember.  Strong colors unaccented can make a space seem lopsided, dreary or even circus like.  The midway of the fair comes to mind.  However if composed properly, it can creats the feeling of a balanced space. Not everyone can balance a bold color.  The size, pattern and location heavily affect the color also.  With time and practice you can make it work. Results of improperly used color can cause loss of sleep, destroy food appeal, create depression, and deplete your energy.

Boldness of color and texture can create the feeling the user wants to project. Even adventurous color users can vitalize even the drabbest living space by using accent paint, throw pillows, towels, plants, area rugs, furnishings and art to to perk up a boring space.

On the other hand, if the user had a very brightly colored space and is needing to tone it down, this can be done without replacing everything.  Strategically placing some cordinated  “toned down” accents can cause the eye to concentrate on that area and slightly soften the “bright color” effect.  An example would be a bright red sofa.  With very light accessories and walls, the red is accented, intensified and it dominates.  If you use brown tones with it (those to the red side of brown are more successful) the red is toned down and rhythm of the space is more pleasing.

Solid colors, patterns and finishes for home furnishings trending now. It is not automatic each year though.  When in doubt, it is a good idea to use bold colors as an accent as color popularity change.  The past 2 years have been mostly warm tones. The forecasters are predicting various mixes of green for 2017.  Colors are edging toward the blues for 2018 while hanging on to the bolds of 2016 and 2017. Color trends flow to the more intense side when during a deflated economy and slide to the more subtle shades when the economy is doing well.  Bolder hues provide a sense of security. Warm colors boost while cool colors soothe  people and some animal’s moods.

Experts now say that color trends will have extended lifespans. Consumers have finally succeeded in letting the industry know that they don’t want to discard their color choices from last year.

There are many reasons for holding on to your color choice. It takes a while to adjust to a color change, and see its many influences. As you get the hang of it, the color becomes outdated. It is difficult to stay in tuned to changing color trends, because the forecasters predict certain colors are in or out in home fashion or clothing. Home design professionals are using color differently now, instead of changing annually as they did a few years ago.. Understanding creative color combinations to make colors move and influence a space can be done by practicing.  When I try something new, I stand back and take in the whole picture to insure I have good balance and color flow.

A color scheme starts with neutrals. The old standby neutrals have been beige, sand, tan, taupe, cream and white. Interior Designers have rely heavily on these neutrals as backgrounds for their interior color palettes for many years. These neutrals will always be remain a part of design schemes.  They can be flexible, attractive, calming and sensational. The new neutral colors project a more sophisticated  and usually formal personality of a space.  Today’s neutrals are expanding to add jet-blacks, various hues of grays, subtle blues and some metallics.

A color wheel can be very helpful for home, office and in your closet. They can be found in many paint sections of hardware stores and in the art section of hobby stores.


Sandy Adling, Registered Interior Designer