Building & Renovating

Expert Advice: 5 Common Color Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Too much or too little of color can affect your home's overall look


Choosing the right color for your home can be a bit overwhelming as this means picking and coordinating the right shades for paint, fabric, wood, and other special finishes. Since many of us are not familiar with pairings that work and other details in design, we make a couple of oversights which could have been avoided. Take note of these common mistakes and how you can best deal with each:

Main photos from: Mad & Bolig and TheLovelyWall via Etsy.

Too much of the same thing

As much as you want the colors in your interior to blend well together, avoid being too matchy-matchy. The color of your sofa doesn’t have to be the same color as your walls. Using the same color for everything will void your area of depth and in turn will make it look flat.

Keep in mind that the colors you choose should actually complement each other but don’t necessarily have to match. Don’t forget to balance off with neutrals and/or add contrast with chosen accent colors.

Photo from Mad & Bolig.

Too much variety

Picking too many colors on the other hand will make your area look busy. Liking different colors doesn’t mean that you have to commit to all of them.

Do this in doses. A helpful way to balance off chosen colors is to distribute them in 60-30-10 percentages. This applies to walls, furniture, and soft furnishings. Remember that you should also allot a space (or certain spaces) where you can allow your eyes to rest—like a blank painted wall.

Photo from Oh Happy Day!

Relying on small paint swatches

Especially for bolder, brighter colors, more often than not, the color you choose may turn out to be too saturated once applied on your wall.

When choosing, hold your paint swatch against a white wall and imagine it as a whole. One trick would be to pick a lighter or toned down variation of the color that you prefer. Keep in mind that it's still best to test the actual color/s on your wall before painting the whole thing. To do this, buy a small can of paint in the color that you like and try it on your wall. Consider having it in different shades (you can ask your painter to adjust the color for you) and once you’re satisfied with a certain shade, bring a swatch to your local depot and have it matched.

Photo from Ebom.

Forgetting about light

The effect of color changes depending on the light it is in. Test your swatches under different types of light (both natural and artificial—warm white, cool white, and daylight). See how the color reacts to the light and then choose from there.

Photo from TheLovelyWall via Etsy.

Playing it safe

Some people choose mostly neutral-colored interiors because they are afraid to make mistakes. Don't hesitate to add a little accent here and there. It doesn’t have to be applied as a solid color, you can try patterns as well. Start with some soft furnishings like your curtains, a rug, and then maybe even color off one of your walls. 

Photo from Ultralinx.

Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]



Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at] with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.

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