Learn how to decorate with energetic colors and fun patterns to create dazzling, eye-catching spaces.
Writer: Brett Bralley
1 of 66Photo: Richard Leo Johnson; Stylist: Elizabeth Beeler
Low Country Color
Crisp white walls set a blank slate for this colorful Tybee Island bedroom. The bright, azure beds (from The Land of Nod) meld perfectly with beachy art by Bellamy Murphy. The fun graphic pillows and blankets (from Celadon) add further depth to the room's palette.
2 of 66Photo: Lisa Romerein
The little girls’ room of this Lake Michigan cottage is a pale blue and chartreuse confection with dreamy bedding and striped walls.
These circus-striped porch curtains were fashioned using inexpensive umbrella fabric that cost only one dollar per yard!
4 of 66Photo: David Tsay
Saturated lime green walls create a vibrant backdrop for bold pillows and rugs in this mod-box beach house.
5 of 66Photo: Lisa Romerein
Instead of boring storage bins, use patterned cloth baskets to add a pop of color and whimsy to a playroom.
6 of 66Photo: Lisa Romerein
For a hip, Southern California vibe, try this color palette: sunny yellow, natural wood, and sea foam green.
7 of 66Photo: Lisa Romerein
Keep graphic wallpaper from feeling overwhelming with curvy prints on pillows, lampshades, and bedding.
8 of 66Photo: Lisa Romerein
Try something unexpected in the kitchen: a lemon-lime backsplash that lines the entire wall and adds a fun layer to an already eclectic space.
9 of 66Photo: David Tsay
An attention-grabbing, bold-colored sofa adds a jolt of energy and makes it so the rest of the room requires minimal decoration.
10 of 66Photo: Lisa Romerein
Go ahead; be more daring with outdoor pillows than you would be with indoor ones. These bright coral, blue, and green ones pack a punch of energy and cheer.
Tip: AstroTurf covers the patio instead of grass, so the bright green will never go dull with dreary weather.
11 of 66Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
A Ban on Boring
Bold doesn’t always mean bright. Here, soft yellow walls pair with lilac accents and a light blue floor to infuse a soothing, happy feel.
12 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter
Quirky accents, such as a mounted game fish and a shell chandelier with an antique finish, add personality and casualness to a beach house dining room.
13 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter
The secret to this room? Vintage furniture, colorful fabrics, and island-inspired decor that recalls a 1970s tropical resort. Metallic accents add just the right amount of glam.
14 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter
Add color to a neutral bedroom by reupholstering a headboard in a retro island print.
15 of 66Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Short on wallspace in the kitchen? Let the cabinets do the color duty, and douse them in a luscious, energetic green.
16 of 66Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Get playful in a playroom with artfully painted multicolored stripes that instantly invigorate the space.
17 of 66Photo: Dominique Vorillon
Gleaming white accents shine even brighter when paired against a textured grasscloth wallcovering. For extra shimmer, add mirrored accents throughout.
18 of 66Photo: Roger Davies
When incorporating a sofa with bold pattern, be sure to anchor the space with solid-colored chairs (even if they are bright orange!).
19 of 66Photo: Tria Giovan
Bamboo Chippendale chairs, a coral-shaped chandelier, and Green Bounty (16-22) paint by Pratt & Lambert give this dining room a vibrant, elegant-at-the-beach feel.
20 of 66Photo: Tria Giovan
Make a statement with vertical cabana-style stripes in chartreuse and slate gray. Sleek accents such as a curvy footstool and side tables add formality.
21 of 66Photo: Tria Giovan
Experiment with vibrant wallpaper in small spaces, such as this powder room, whose petite dimensions keep a bold pattern from overwhelming.
22 of 66Photo: Kim Cornelison
Don’t restrict color to the walls. This Royal Blue Rustoleum paint pops against a sunny-hued pendant chandelier.
23 of 66Photo: Richard Leo Johnson
Though usually reserved for fabrics and surfaces, color can also come to life through appliances and accessories. A vintage-style cooktop and refrigerator, plus punchy turquoise tiles, stock this beach house kitchen with an ultimate easy-living vibe.
24 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter
Choose a brightly hued piece of art to inspire your color palette. Then, build your look around it. Even a mix of fabrics will mesh well if you stick with a consistent color scheme.
25 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter
A vibrant hue such as lemon yellow adds interest and keeps an all-white room from looking washed-out. Keep a high-octane palette in check with streamlined furnishings such as this oversize Lucite coffee table and a pair of deep, squared-off Billy Baldwin sofas.
26 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter
Hot and Cold
While warm and inviting, citrusy orange can often be overwhelming when paired with too many other colors. Add only one or two accent hues, such as a cool blue, to tone down a space.
27 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter
Fun and Fabulous
Be bold without going overboard by choosing a vibrant fabric. These chairs provide sharp contrast to the dining room’s glossy white walls and floor.
28 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter
Bright aqua defines this guest room, where a love seat and palm-shaped bed posters lend South Florida panache. A white backdrop creates restful pauses among intensely colored fabrics, rugs, and accessories.
29 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter
A whimsical, shell-inspired ceiling fixture and sculptural white furnishings accent the bold aqua furnishings and rug in this sitting area. Such vivid choices add fun to a vacation home.
30 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter
Strawberry pink takes on a more mature appearance when paired with streamlined furniture and minimal accessories. An Asian-inspired wallpaper and a geometric print on throw pillows keep this master bedroom from looking too girly.
31 of 66Photo: J. Savage Gibson
Use colors in unexpected places, such as floors, for a fun twist in a more traditional space. These homeowners opted for leafy green in the kitchen when a stain couldn’t be matched to the rest of the house.
32 of 66Photo: J. Savage Gibson
Help find focus by choosing a favorite piece of furniture or accessory and designing your room around it. An antique bamboo desk with pink trim inspired this room’s feminine twist on traditional island style.
33 of 66Photo: J. Savage Gibson
Closed, these curtains lend privacy and offer respite from the sun. Open, they frame the space and soften the scene. When choosing fabrics, avoid natural weaves, which are prone to fading and mildew. Look for bright, synthetic blends that will weather the elements.
34 of 66Photographer: Lisa Romerein
Nothing says sea-inspired quite like sandy hues paired with ocean blues. A neutral sofa and linen-covered poufs provide a calming influence when matched with a vibrant rug and throw pillows.
35 of 66Photo: Tria Glovan
This room combines light blues with turquoise hues for an under-the-sea feel. Sleek details such as the pottery overhead complement the updated version of French toile on pillows and draperies.
36 of 66Photo: Jeff McNamara
Wake up a sleepy bedroom with a coat of bold orange paint. White linens and draperies will balance the bright color, providing a simple, soothing contrast.
37 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter, Writer: Rachel Bertone
The weathered dining room credenza and wooden dining table add warmth to this beautiful blue space. The graphic print fabric on the chair backs incorporates a touch of modern to this traditional space.
38 of 66Colleen Duffley
Tame a vibrant palette with woven furniture and rugs made from natural materials such as sisal, sea grass, or jute.
39 of 66Photographer: Rick Lew
This bedroom uses hues of the sea, with a turquoise wallcovering and intricate shell-covered side table. The bedding plays nicely with the coastal shell picture framed on the wall.
40 of 66Photographer: Roger Davies
Bright and Beautiful
This sunny kitchen is colorful without feeling overwhelming. “My decorating sense was influenced more by Crayola than anything else,” says homeowner Sue Hoffman.
41 of 66Photographer: Jean Allsopp
Exotic and functional, these hanging beds have fun written all over them. Punchy striped fabric on the walls and a Roman shade create a seamless backdrop, while an orange rug and throw pillows pop.
42 of 66Photo: Peter Murdock
Increase the charm by veering away from the traditional color wheel. Welcoming corals and golds pair nicely with calming blues and teals. Walls covered with burlap add warmth and texture.
43 of 66Photographer: Jean Allsopp
For a quieter citrus scheme, try a buttery yellow on upholstery. It radiates warmth without the shock factor of a neon hue.
44 of 66Photographer: J. Savage Gibson
Simple island elegance is the key to this guest room. Bamboo-inspired furniture and bedding pair with sugar white walls to provide the ultimate atmosphere for peaceful snoozing.
45 of 66Photographer: Lisa Romerein
Floor-to-ceiling built-in shelves take accessories to new heights. Nautical fishing floats in emerald hues pop when placed next to antique-finished basins and pottery.
46 of 66Photographer: J. Savage Gibson
Rattan furniture, pretty blues, and a burst of pink give this outdoor living room a modern yet retro feel. The organic outdoor fabric allows the space to withstand island heat, wind, and rainstorms.
47 of 66Photographer: Steven Brooke
Add a twist of lime to your color scheme. Fabrics in the cheerful hue punch up wood or wicker furnishings.
48 of 66Photo: Jonny Valiant; Styling: Elizabeth Beeler
Lavender is known to be a calming shade, and this homeowner used it to good effect in the master bedroom of her Long Island home. Pale lavender appears in the lampshade and sheet set, while a deeper amethyst hue adds kick to the bed upholstery and accent pillows.
This Key Biscayne, Florida, deck is outfitted in hot reds, pinks, and oranges, making the water view even bluer: "These complementary colors intensify each other because they're opposites on the color wheel," says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.
50 of 66Photo: Rick Lew; Styling: Elizabeth Beeler
Green with Envy
A bold application of color, like the Key lime green that defines the entrance of this Key West cottage, is a great way to announce that there is more fun to come. The designer had the original pine floors cleaned, scrubbed, and polished to provide a more neutral complement to the attention-grabbing walls.
Get the look: The jute runner is from Pottery Barn. The designer purchased the pendant light on a trip to Mexico.
51 of 66Photo: Francesco Lagnese; Styling: Anna Molvik
Retro, White, and Blue
In this Nantucket kitchen, red metal cabinets made by St. Charles Cabinetry (the preferred cabinetry fabricator of celebrated midcentury architects Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright), white Formica countertops, a turquoise retro-style Big Chill refrigerator, and a TurboChef oven complete a peppy throwback look.
“Green is the color of nature, so it makes sense that the shade would look most at home in outdoor spaces, which is why we used it here,” says L.A.-based designer Daniel Torres of this porch. “By repeating the very dramatic, graphic stripes on the walls, ceiling, and pillows, we were able to channel a certain kind of bygone Hollywood glamour while also creating an environment that really allows the green to pop.”
53 of 66Photo: Lisa Romerein; Styling: Jennifer Barguiarena
Sea-Inspired Sitting Room
With a view like this, these homeowners wanted their home to pay homage to nature. Designer Laura Motley took her cues—and hues—from the Pacific to help them create a fresh look.
Get the look: The coffee table and chairs are from Rooms & Gardens. The China Seas Kazak chair fabric and Java Java stool fabric in New Blue on White are from Quadrille Fabrics. The sea grass rug is from Merida.
54 of 66Photo: Stacey Brandford
“People tend to shy away from yellow, but I think it’s great,” says Toronto-based designer Sarah Richardson. “It’s both bold and contemporary while conveying a happy outlook. The key to making strong colors work is to make sure you balance your space with a serious, heaping helping of white, like I did in this bedroom. It allows some breathing room so your yellow will feel like a complement and a lovely accent, not like it’s hitting you over the head.”
Get the look: Richardson designed the upholstered headboard. The bedside table and lamp are by Rich Brilliant Willing.
55 of 66Photo: J. Savage Gibson; Styling: Heather Chadduck
Lively Dining Room
This South Carolina cottage is outfitted with lovely apple green chairs and patterned drapes. The white beaded board and sea grass rug help ground the space.
56 of 66Photo: Peter Murdock; Styling: Heather Chadduck
Sag Harbor Sunroom
The happy-hued sectional in this Sag Harbor sunroom brightens up the otherwise all-white space. The floral throw pillows add a touch of whimsy, as does the woven stool.
It's hard to compete with an ocean view, but the glass subway tile backsplash in this kitchen does a great job of mirroring the water and laid-back-cool indoors. Try a similar bold, blue backsplash in either marble, quartz, or glass to help create the illusion of movement and openness, especially in smaller spaces.
Get the look: Walker Zanger Skyline 2 × 2 Sheet-Mounted Staggered Joint Glass Tile in Blue Sky, $43 per square foot. Silestone Life! Series Quartz in Blue Enjoy, from $44 per square foot.
58 of 66Photo: Julia Lynn; Styling: Elizabeth Demos
Airy blue walls provide a serene backdrop for pops of coral and charcoal in this Kiawah Island, South Carolina, sitting room.
59 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter; Styling: Matthew Gleason
Leafy Green Kitchen
A pop of vivid green gives this Florida kitchen a fun, energetic vibe.
Get the Look: The Pierce Martin kitchen stools have cushions in a bold China Seas fabric. The glass pendants are from Juliska.
60 of 66Photo: Tria Giovan; Styling by Heather Chadduck
Shades of blue and white create serenity in the master bedroom of this Amagansett, New York, beach house. The cotton shirting drapes were made by piecing together panels into long stripes of navy, ultramarine, and white.
Get the look: The master bedroom’s bed, pillows, curtains, and bedside lamps are custom items by interior designer Jarlath Mellett. The light fixture is from Suite New York.
61 of 66Photo: Lisa Romerein
Fun with Florals
The family room of this Lake Michigan cottage features almost every shade on the color spectrum.
62 of 66Photo: J. Savage Gibson; Styling: Brice Gaillard
A light-blue shade on the cabinets and island complements the sea-inspired backsplash and softens stainless steel appliances and dark countertops and floors of this seaside kitchen, The designer started wih the tiles, and the color inspired the palette for the entire house. A hint of iridescent shimmer sets off the blue cabinetry and sandy trim and ceiling.
63 of 66Photo: Jonny Valiant; Styling: Elizabeth Beeler
Single Color Saturation
In the TV room of her Long Island retreat, this homeowner painted the walls a vibrant green to match the custom-upholstered sectional, but softened the look with white piping, a pair of white pod chairs, and a nubby carpet. The result: a surprisingly comfortable venue for nighttime lounging and movie watching. The domed spotlights can be rotated to direct light as needed.
64 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter; Styling: Matthew Gleason
Hot Pink Bedroom
The homeowner’s daughter selected hot pink wallpaper for her bedroom in the family's Stuart, Florida, home.
Get the Look: The headboard was designed by the homeowner and accessorized with PBteen bedding and custom pillows.
65 of 66Photo: Francesco Lagnese; Styling: Anna Molvik
Midcentury modern furniture covered in kicky colors—bright orange and leaf green—pops against the white walls and floor of this Nantucket sitting room.
Get the look: The club chairs, from Metro Retro in Houston, are covered in ultrasuede by Weiman. The Noguchi table, by Knoll, is from Design Within Reach.
66 of 66Photo: Annie Schlechter; Styling: Elizabeth Beeler
Pale Yellow Porch
The exterior color of this dreamy Abaco Island cottage sparked a color revolution in the home. “When they chose yellow [for the exterior], we just loved it,” says interior designer Amanda Lindroth. “It’s so happy and looks striking against the blue of the sky. It inspired us to bounce color all throughout the house.”
Get the look: The exterior’s marigold hue is custom; for some thing similar, try Farrow & Ball’s Dayroom Yellow. The chairs are from Amazon.com.