Our Editors' Favorite Color Combos

Before you plow through all of those paint chips, check out the color schemes we love, plus our hints on how to use them.
Sara Anderson

Even for the most experienced decorators, choosing colors can be a time-consuming task. That's why so many pros tend to stick with their favorite shades. Here, we share the combinations we ooh and aah over most--not because they've trickled down from a fashion runway, but because we've seen how well they work in a variety of ways. They are nicely balanced: not too warm or too cold, not too bold or too boring. Pick a palette that suits your style, and find out how to put it into play in your home.

Color Combo #1
Why we love it: There's something cheerful about aqua and yellow. (Pardon the postcard simile, but it is like looking at sunshine and ocean waters.) However, the combo isn't so high-voltage that you'll tire of it quickly. Mix in cool, grayish whites and pale greens for variety.

Where it works: These colors are best for brightening up small spaces, such as a sunroom.

For big impact: Paint or paper walls in yellow, using a grayish white semigloss paint on the trim. Add turquoise accents with lamps or pillows.

For a small dose: Hang turquoise and yellow towels in a neutral bath. Or arrange bright yellow flowers in aqua vases along your mantel.

Color Combo #2
Why we love it: Taupe and blue are soothing colors, yet they also have enough pop to keep a room from looking bland. They work with all kinds of styles too. Add oranges and off-whites in the form of draperies and pillows. Browns would also look pretty with this scheme.

Where it works: Just about anywhere--these are classic colors that create nice visual flow.

For big impact: Paint walls and trim the same taupe color. Use semigloss for the trim and an eggshell finish on walls. This makes rooms look larger.

For a small dose: Consider icy blue on the ceiling. Paint the back of bookcases burnt orange. Switch out mats on artwork for ones in this neutral family.

Color Combo #3
Why we love it: Fresh and pretty describe this salmon pink and spring green combination. Creamy beige and chocolate brown accents will keep the palette sophisticated, not childish.

Where it works: Great for bedrooms and baths. With the addition of brown, this combo will also go in more formal living spaces.

For big impact: These shades are a little strong for the walls, but on a sofa or chair they make quite a statement. You could also use this scheme for window treatments.

For a small dose: Paint a piece of furniture pink to bring spark to a neutral bedroom wall. Add pillows to perk up a dull living room sofa or chair.