Early in my design career, a client presented me with a challenge for re-designing her living room.

She wanted a new look, with lots of color. Per her instructions, she wanted to keep two existing chairs , one red and one blue, but replace most of the remaining furnishings, including the sofa.

Did you catch the part about the chairs – one red, the other blue? The real challenge here, was to connect these seemingly disparate pieces into a harmonious color scheme.

Well, I love a challenge, and every project has one. It’s what usually get the creative juices flowing.

It is also where the ‘Color Party’ comes in.

Let me explain.

Every design project needs a color scheme, and in order to achieve this, one needs to consider which colors to ‘invite’ to the party. It’s the same idea as coming up with a guest list, and subsequently weeding out the ‘guests’ that don’t quite fit in.

If you think of any party you’ve ever given, wasn’t this the typical starting point? After all, you don’t want to invite guests who don’t get along, do you?

A color party is no different. The best part, however, is that you can dispense with food and entertainment. A theme can be a good idea, if you’ve narrowed down your choices to warm, or cool colors, or a certain mood that you’re trying to achieve.

For example, if your goal is to create a tranquil, calm retreat, red might not be a welcome guest.

You get the idea.

Be forewarned that certain guests might arrive with an attitude, and may not get along with others no matter how clear your intention. Should you seat Peacock Blue next to Orange? What about Grey? The former might be a bit jarring, the latter may not be exciting enough.

Rules for a Color Party (Yes, there are Rules)

Purchase a Color Wheel

A color wheel is a handy tool that can be purchased at any art supply store.

This is a great resource for educating yourself on color, especially if you are unfamiliar with terms like ‘complementary’, or analogous’, or the meaning of hues, tints and tones.

Brushing up before hand, so you can address your guests accordingly, is always a good idea.


Consider a Theme

What mood are you striving for?

A few words come to mind: 

Sensuous (as in slightly exotic, with  rich reds, browns, and gold);

Nurturing (earth tones, in varying shades of green or brown);

Contemplative or Serene (a watery theme of cool blues and greens, mixed with neutrals such as taupe, beige, or off-white);

Dramatic (strong, jewel-toned colors, such as a sunny yellow, that can lend excitement to your space); or perhaps

Elegant (black and white, chocolate brown, and other neutrals come to mind).


Refine Your Guest List

The guests here, being the colors, of course.

Based on the theme you’ve selected, invite groupings of the most appealing colors to your party. Keep in mind existing surfaces that you don’t plan to change, such as floors and carpeting.

Remember – you want everyone to get along!

Steer clear of colors that tend to show up with an Attitude – they should not be invited.


Have Fun with Paint Samples

You can always rely on traditional paint chips, available at most paint supply stores, but I like some of the more innovative sample pots of actual paint, that are also readily available.

YOLO Colorhouse offers poster-size sheets painted with the actual paint color, so there’s no guessing if the color you’re seeing is the ‘true’ color , or not.

The coolest part is the sticky tape on the back, that allows you to temporarily attach the painted sheets to your walls, to see firsthand if the color scheme is to your liking.

A quick word about eco-friendly paint options – do yourself, and your guests, a favor by choosing sustainable paints that will be kind to your health and the environment.


Don’t Give Up

Despite your best efforts, your guests may still misbehave.

They may try to steal the spotlight, and not let others have their moment to shine. Give yourself time to re-coup, then invite a different group of guests and try again. Ask them to leave their egos at the door.

So there you have it!

Choose your project, review the Rules above, and throw yourself a Color Party.

Let me know how it goes.


“Your home should rise up to meet you”. Peter Walsh      

I recently heard about something called the 2% Rule.

Generally speaking, this refers to a percentage of wasted time in a given day, or week, that could be re-purposed into doing those things you “just don’t have time for”.

Like re-organizing the home office you’ve been meaning to get to for months on end, or just finding some extra time for yourself to unwind, read a favorite book  or go for a walk.

In my household, my husband has a 5% Rule, which goes something like this: if you’re munching on a cookie and a piece of it falls on the floor it is still edible if picked up within 5 seconds. This may or may not work for you. Personally, I prefer to know that the floor is really clean.

Then there’s the 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto principle. This rule basically says that in any given situation only a few, or 20%, are doing 80% of the work.

In reality, there are any number of situations this can be applied to. In some circles, it is suggested that you discipline yourself to stop eating when you are 80% full.

I like to stretch this rule a bit further and apply it to interior design, and lifestyles in general. To test this out for yourself, try taking a look at your closet. Can you see that you wear only 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time?

Or try analyzing an entire day in your life. You may see that in the grand scheme of things only 20% of your achievements really matter. Better still, do you live fully in 80% of your home, or do you spend most of your time in just 20% of it? I’m guessing it’s the latter.

Which means it can really make sense to re-design your home and make it work for you 80% of the time. Maybe this is easier said than done but with the right planning I believe it’s achievable.

To help you out, I’ve listed some of my favorite suggestions for making your home really work for you:

First, it’s important that you Nurture yourself by creating warm and inviting spaces for your favorite hobbies and pastimes. As an example, let’s look at the kitchen. If cooking is your passion, you’ll want to pare down to the bare essentials and make your kitchen really work for you with proper storage, appliances and utensils.

Incorporate colors and furnishings that are soothing to the spirit.

Pay particular attention to how your home functions, and how it accommodates your lifestyle. Be like a Scientist and observe every way that it comes up short. Record your findings for future reference.

Next, Reduce Clutter. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again:  crowded rooms are confining & less welcoming. By reducing clutter you can actually increase the amount of livable space in your home, which means you will use more of it.

Not sure where to start?

Consider hiring an organizational expert, or pick up a self-help book that can guide you through the process.

Choose Your Furnishings Carefully. In all areas of your home, and life , if you pare down to the basics you will likely get plenty of use out of everything.

Consider furnishings that serve more than one purpose thereby doing double-duty. For optimal organization, be sure to include plenty of extra storage, and definitely consider customized options if your budget allows.

Ultimately, it comes down to this  –  if it doesn’t honor who you are, think twice before bringing it home.

To subscribe to my eZine, and receive a FREE copy of my ebook Living Green:  12 Simple Steps for Creating an Eco-Friendly Home, please visit my website at harmonydesignsudio.com .