Emily Henderson’s 5 Simple Steps for Creating a Color Palette for Any Occasion

March 15, 2016 | By | Comments (0)

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I learned a lot of things when home style and design expert Emily Henderson agreed to tag-team Easter with us this year. Not the least of which—there is an adult way to play with pastels.

I have read on Emily’s blog how important setting a color palette is for any styling or decorating project (a message well illustrated in the heart eye emoji-worthy photos that accompany every single post). And while it makes sense in theory, actually developing and utilizing a cohesive color palette—for a room, a party, or anything else—wasn’t something I’ve ever really understood. Needless to say, I’ve certainly never done it (confession: I do not have a design-savvy bone in my body) and I feel like my “eclectic” living room and general life could be way prettier if I did.

And then, when Emily created this gorgeous spring-tastic tablescape to serve our Easter menu, I thought to myself, “This lady mixed pink with another pink… and it is flawless. I must understand this magic.” So when I had the opportunity to talk over some entertaining and design tips with Emily, I [semi-desperately] asked her to explain how to build a color palette—what are the tricks? Is there any foolproof secret? Do you need special color receptors in your eyeballs? Like the color maven that she is, she broke it down into digestible terms for this novice—5 easy steps to creating a color palette for any occasion.

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Step 1: Start with 1 or 2 colors that you respond to for that particular project. Decide what you want the vibe to be. If you want something moody, go for dark colors like aubergine or navy. But if you’re going for bright and fresh—like we did for this Easter party—a pastel story is a good way to go. Choose colors that “feel” like the mood you want to evoke.

Step 2: Once you have an idea of what mood you want to set and have chosen some colors that communicate that, take another look and make sure you have at least 1 warm color and 1 cool color. For example, on our Easter table, pink was the warm and mint was the cool. These are your main colors to build around—the base of your color palette.

Step 3: Add in a neutral color—cream, gray, or white.

Step 4: If you are color-confident or feeling adventurous, add in an accent color. This is going to be a color that is the opposite on the color wheel of one of your main colors.

Step 5: Finally, consider adding a highlight and a low-light to the mix. This respectively means a darker and lighter tone of one of your main colors. Incorporating highlights and low lights makes the palette feel well-rounded and robust, and keeps it from looking a little rigid or OCD.

Plan Your Easter Feast:

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