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    Choosing the right color combination can help you set a creative or whimsical tone in your room says color expert Kate Smith.

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    A recognized authority on all things color-related, Kate Smith is a professional color strategist and the creator of

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A recognized authority on all things color-related, Kate Smith is a professional color strategist and the creator of


E-Mail Your Color Questions

Have a color challenge you need help with? Our color expert, Kate Smith, will be selecting questions from readers each month and answering them in upcoming articles. E-mail your color question to

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  • Ask Kate: Whimsical Colors

    Indulge your inner Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland, and build the color confidence to create a playful room—the kind you’ll love to live in.

    by Kate Smith

    Q: I want to liven up my living areas and add elements of quirkiness and whimsy to my home. How can I do this with color?

    A: Do the illustrations of Dr. Seuss always draw your attention? Maybe you love Lady Gaga’s imaginative style? If you're drawn to eclectic, light-hearted décor, you don’t have to relegate your creativity to decorating kid’s rooms. Instead, create a mood that reflects your whimsical personality by using these color tips:

    1. Bright colors are the calling card of a joyful space. Consider bold shades of red, green or blue for walls. Secondary colors, those that are made when two primary colors are mixed together, are also great for fun spaces. Think in tones of orange, brown, pink, magenta or violet to create a look with an edge.
    2. Another way to pump up the energy in your room is to select high-contrast color combinations. Create distinctive looks by choosing colors that are opposite from each other (complementary colors) on the color wheel. These vibrant combos include purple and yellow, blue and orange, and red and green.
    3. Creative color isn’t just for walls. Inject playfulness into other materials as well. For example, if your kitchen is in need of instant imagination, add a color-packed tile backsplash. Multi-color tiles will also bring an element of fun to bathrooms. And don't forget, you can add whimsy by incorporating window treatments with fun prints or unusual embellishments.
    4. Get funky by reimagining classic and traditional pieces. Nothing says youthful quite like a Queen Anne end table painted electric blue or an antique chair that’s been reupholstered with a Warhol-inspired print.
    5. Not quite ready to make the full commitment to a playful scheme? Start by adding unexpected colors to your holiday décor. For example, nix the traditional Christmas red for a fun shade of pink, or substitute apple red for Halloween orange. Starting on a small scale will soon give you the color confidence to redo a tired old room into the whimsical, one-of-a-kind space you desire.