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Using “Echo Color” Theory for Sound Interior Design

Using “Echo Color” Theory for Sound Interior Design

If you want your home to have an attractive interior color scheme, there are several ways to proceed. You could hire a design professional. Or, you could simply adopt a suggested color palette offered by the paint company of your choice.

But there’s another option, one that is often most rewarding — creating an original color scheme that is uniquely yours by employing “echo color” in your interior.

Echo color doesn’t refer to a special hue or a particular type of paint. Rather, it’s a near-foolproof approach to design that can render your home interior one-of-a-kind wonderful in terms of color-coordinated perfection.

The theory behind echo color is to repeat the same or similar hues throughout a room or open space to achieve an echo-like effect for the eyes. As with the sound of an echo, colors can vary in intensity, but they should be at least vaguely related to one another.

Sound complicated? It’s actually quite easy to design this way by using color cues that are readily available.

After choosing a wall color you love and testing it out in your home, take a closer look at your paint retailer’s color display. Darker shades or lighter tints of your wall color are all echo color candidates that can be used on an accent wall, woodwork or trim. You may find them on the same color strip, or very nearby on the display. If you don’t stray too far, the colors you choose should echo each other.

If you need confirmation, ask the counterperson to print out the formulas for the paint colors you’re considering. Check to see that they contain most, or all, of the same pigments. If they do, your eye will pick up the commonality once the paint colors are applied.

By using two, three, or even more echo colors in your interior, you’ll create a pleasing complementary color scheme. Now comes the finishing touch: Choosing accents to embellish the space. For the best effect, this requires a little artistry.

Walls and woodwork treated with echo color tend to be monochromatic, which typically makes for a soothing appearance. But even monochromatic rooms benefit from a small amount of contrasting color. You can introduce this by way of wall art and ceramics; pillows and fabrics; or any other of your furnishings.

When creating an echo-color interior, accents can be in nearly any color, but they should all contain hints of the echo hue. Let’s say the walls and woodwork are painted blue. You could choose accents that are primarily white, green, or gray, as long as they also contain at least a little blue to “echo” the wall color. Again, the idea is to drop hints of the color here and there to bind the color scheme together.

The start of a new year is a great time to freshen up your home. Why not go for your own unique look? Working with some echo color could make your painting project a re-sounding success!


Debbie Zimmer is editor-in-chief of the Paint Quality Institute blog. She's a widely cited authority on color, use of paints in interior and exterior design, and decorative painting techniques. She can be found on Twitter as @PaintQualityIns.