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Home Decorating for Beginners - It's All About Color!

Creative Inspiration from the Home by Mary Ann Henker

For some, decorating a home is a fun, carefree experience that lets one’s inner creativity shine through. For others, it can be seen as a daunting and unpleasant task. For those who think that decorating a home – or even just one room – is as much fun as mowing the lawn with a push-mower on a 102 degree day, fear not! Everyone has the potential to make a room, apartment, or an entire house worthy of a feature in the popular magazine, Real Simple.

When decorating a room there are a few things to consider like furniture type, texture, accessories, and color.

However, for the beginner decorator, these elements can add confusion to the mix. The best method is to focus on one thing at a time. With that said, the most important element is color.

Concentrating on just color allows you to not be overwhelmed by the other things. Also, you just need to know and understand one key word – monochromatic.

The Big Decorating Secret

Monochromatic means using one color as the foundation for your room.

The monochromatic approach is perfect for a person who wants a clean and streamlined-looking room but not want to be as concerned with all the other “decorating stuff” (aka decorating rules and theories).

A monochromatic decorating approach ensures that the color of all the main elements in a room match - main elements being big furniture, wall color, rugs/carpet, and window coverings.

Add the Big Red Bow to Your Room

Once you determine your base color for your monochromatic “look” then decide on a second color for a “pop effect.” Your second color – and even third color – will provide the color harmony that makes your room both comfortable to live in and aesthetically-pleasing to the eye. These colors will act as the “big red bow” to your room, making it inviting to guests.

This approach will ensure your room is not under or over-decorated.

Help! Which color should I use for my monochromatic look?

Let’s use a living room as an example.

Beige Living Room


  1. You can choose your favorite color for your monochromatic look or to make your room more timeless, choose a core color in nature, i.e. beige.

  2. Purchase the largest piece of furniture that will be in the room in the color you chose, e.g. your sofa.

  3. Now try to match your armchairs, window coverings, rug, and wall color as close as possible to the beige of your sofa.

  4. For wood items that you might want to add to your room, like a coffee table and end tables, make sure that the stain of the wood among all pieces is a close match.

How do I determine my secondary and tertiary color that will create my pop-effect?

  1. Look on the color wheel, and choose the complementary color opposite to your monochromatic color – this is your secondary color. For example, if a pastel yellow is your base color, the complementary color will be a pastel purple.

  2. For your tertiary color, look at the color on the color wheel that is next to your secondary color – that will be your final color to include as a pop-effect.

  3. If your monochromatic base is a nature color, i.e. beige, your pop-effect colors should be opposing colors that you would see in nature, i.e. maroon for autumn leaves, or bright red for flowers.

How do I create my pop-effect with my secondary and tertiary colors?

Creating your pop-effect is fun! Take the two colors and make sure they are used (either individually or mixed in a print) for the following items in the living room example:


  • Throw pillows for your couch and arm chairs

  • Throw blanket for your couch or chair

  • If you have a carpet that is part of your monochromatic look, place an area rug that is your secondary or tertiary color over the carpet.

  • Lampshade or lamp base

How do I accessorize my room?

Now place your personal effects, knick-knacks, frames, and hard-back books around the room. The goal is to use a mix of items that are of your monochromatic, secondary, and tertiary colors as well as pieces that are a pattern of those colors.

When adding wall art, attempt to match the frames to the stain of the wood in your room or to one of your secondary or tertiary colors.


You did it! Welcome to your beautiful and inviting room!

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