How to Create Your Own Color Palette

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Filling your home with color can be a great way to add personality and style. However, if you’re not sure where to start, creating a color palette is a wonderful way to begin. It can be as simple as choosing colors that you love, or it can be more complicated and involve choosing colors that work well together. Either way, it’s a great way to make your space feel like your own. So what are you waiting for? Get started creating your own color palette today!

“Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” – W. Kandinsky

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way.” – G. O’Keefe

“The chief function of color should be to serve expression.” – H. Matisse

“Color is my day-long obsession, joy, and torment” – C. Monet

Such quotes can make you tightly clench a color wheel or paint fan deck as you agonize over a color palette. You may similarly go into paint choice paralysis, realizing that the human eye can detect about 10 million colors and paint companies offer thousands of color options. Color theory, our associations between colors and emotions, may also account for paint decision aversion.

How to Create Your Own Color Palette_Jen Dorsey Studio_pantone colors

But there’s no need to panic. I’ve compiled some tips and tricks below to help you choose color palettes. Try them, and then play, practice and repeat. Remember that there are no perfect ways to choose paint colors. It’s art, and it’s just paint, so have fun and get messy! 

5 W’s on How to Create Palette from Color

Let’s go over Who, What, When, Where, & Why

However, before we discuss color palettes, let’s take a detour and go back in time to elementary school. Do you remember teachers lecturing about the importance of including the 5 Ws in writing assignments? (I can still see Mrs. McIver standing at the front of the classroom in her very ’80s attire, teaching this topic as we students counted down the minutes until lunch.)

  • Who is the project for? Is it for a man, woman, family, child, adult, business, or residence?
  • What is the project? Is it artwork, painted furniture, or interior design? What are the client’s preferred colors, styles, and special requests?  
  • When will the project be completed? The answer to this question can determine whether or not you will accept a project. For example, you may have projected booked out for several months, or the client might be on a tight deadline.   
  • Where will the finished project be located? Is it a wall or an interior, exterior, residential or commercial space? How will light and other decorative elements in the space affect the project?
  • Why are you doing the project? This question should probably be at the top of the list, and the first question asked. Having a solid understanding of why you and the client want to embark on a project sets the project up for success.

How to Create Your Own Color Palette_Jen Dorsey Studio_color wheel

How to Create Your Own Color Palette: The Color Palette Basics

The Color Wheel 

How to Create Your Own Color Palette_Jen Dorsey Studio_color pickerThe 12 basic colors of the color wheel can be divided into three categories:

  • 3 Primary Colors: Red, Blue, and Yellow. (Primary Colors cannot be created by mixing other colors.)
  • 3 Secondary Colors: Orange, Green, and Purple. (Secondary Colors are produced by combining two Primary Colors)
  • 6 Tertiary Colors: Yellow-Orange, Red-Orange, Red-Purple, Blue-Purple, Blue-Green, and Yellow Green. (Tertiary Colors are produced by combing one Primary Color and one Secondary Color).


How to Create Your Own Color Palette_Jen Dorsey Studio_Color WheelTints, Shades, and Tones

You can change these 12 colors (AKA hues) by adding white, black, or black and white (gray). Adding white to a pure hue creates a tint (i.e., red + white = pink); adding back to a pure hue creates a shade (i.e., red + black = burgundy), and adding black and white (gray) to a pure hue creates a tone. 

Warm and Cool Tones

Colors can be grouped based on whether they have warm or cool undertones. Warm colors are the reds, oranges, and yellows, and cool colors are the blues, greens, and purples. I prefer to balance warm and cool tones since, for example, a room with too many cool tones can feel cold, while a room with too many warm tones can feel overpowering. 

How to Create Your Own Color Palette_Jen Dorsey Studio_Paint Swatches

Basic Color Schemes

The basic color schemes include Monochromatic, Analogous, Complimentary, Split-Complimentary, and Triad.

  • Monochromatic – Different shades of the same hue (i.e., dark blue and light blue, purple and lavender). 
  • Analogous – The main color and the colors from either side of it on the color wheel (i.e., blue, green-blue, and green). 
  • Complimentary – Colors opposite each other on the color wheel (i.e., orange and blue, red and green, purple and yellow).
  • Split Complimentary – One color and colors from either side of its compliment (i.e., red, yellow-green, and blue-green).
  • Triad – Three colors from equidistant points on the color wheel (i.e., red, yellow, and blue, or green, violet, and orange).

Addition Color Palette Inspiration

If you are still baffled by color palettes, I recommend looking out your window or getting outside and finding inspiration from nature. These ever-changing color schemes designed by Mother Nature never disappoint. You can also hop on Pinterest or Instagram, find examples in artwork, photos, wallpaper, and fashion, and use color palette generators like Coolors, Adobe Color, Khroma, Paletton, and Color Space. 

We hope this blog post inspires you to get creative with color in your home. It’s no secret that we love color. We believe that color has the power to transform a space, lift your mood, and create an inviting atmosphere. But while we love experimenting with new color combinations, we understand that it can be daunting to try something new. That’s why we’re always here to help and answer any questions.

Thanks for reading!  Happy decorating!


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