Choose Colors Like a Designer

Inspiration is one of those things that, as Forest Gump famously said, just jumps up and bites you on the behind.

The truth is, that while Inspiration is often abundant for me, I lose the drive to even start a project when I have to choose colors. Choosing colors is one of the most difficult decisions I have to make as a designer, and I know many of you face the same issues. I get emails every week asking about color choice and how to make things work just right…and today I want to share with you how to choose colors like a designer. Well, like this designer! Make sure to share your finished pieces with me @rohnstrong on Instagram!

Rule #1: Narrow your focus.

I usually begin with a concept. For this example let’s say I want to crochet an afghan. I decide where I want this afghan to work. In my house? In my mother’s house? Maybe for a friend who just purchased a home? That helps me narrow it down.

Comforting Rug

This also works for your sweaters, or socks, or scarves. Think about who you’re making it for. What they wear. Then move onto Rule #2.

Rule #2: Find Inspiration Around You

Pinterest is great but it shouldn’t be the end all/be all. In fact, I use Pinterest last. First, I look to my surroundings to find color scheme ideas. For example, I have a large mural in my home that features some striking graphic elements of bright color. If I wanted to bring that color into the afghan mentioned in Rule 1…I’ll play off the mural and find colors that work with it.

If I can’t find inspiration around my home I usually head to the yarn companies. Red Heart, for example, develops some great content in collections often called look books. The great thing about these is that they offer a slew of patterns you can be inspired by too! Often I look for color combinations that I love. Whether that is in the garment the person is wearing…or their surroundings. If all else fails…I head to Pinterest or Instagram. I just try not to get thrown down the rabbit hole!

Rule #3: Go With Your Gut

It took me about 8 years of designing to realize this. I have an inherent eye for the things I like. You do too! We are individuals and with that individuality, we often find that we see things through a unique lens. I love certain color combinations other may not like. My house is bright and colorful with cozy elements. I wear more flannel than someone should be allowed too…but that’s who I am. You have a personal style…even if you don’t think you do. Go with your gut! You got this. Trust yourself and go with what looks pretty!

So there you have it. My three rules for choosing colors like a designer. I hope this helps you create projects that are perfect for you, for your home, and for your life.

Choose Colors Like a Designer

2 thoughts on “Choose Colors Like a Designer

  1. Chelsea Hahn

    This is a great article. I love the go with your gut advice. I expected to read about color wheels, tertiary color groupings and other more “scientific” ways to choose colors.

  2. Marie

    you are so right about choosing color being one of the hardest things about starting a project. In fact- I can get so bogged down but what color that sometimes I just walk away from it! My problem is that getting out of the neutrals mode and exploring with colors. I’m working on an afghan now for my daughter and she wanted blue, so I went with Red hearts True Blue Ombre and its is turning out beautiful! My next project though will be a throw for my parents that they can use in their living room and I want to get away from the “safe” colors and get it a pop of color but still be classic enough for a formal living room throw. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions and wish me luck!

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