Avoiding a rainbow overdose is key. “Color is important to me, but in sparse ways,” says homeowner Una Damon. Her instinct is echoed in the light-handed approach of architects Toni Lewis and Marc Schoeplein. Too much color, says Lewis, and you can end up with “a funhouse-looking home.”

• Keep the palette in check. “Use color in splashes, not everywhere — but don’t be afraid of trying a bright shade,” Lewis says. Wood, stone, and ceramic help balance the visual impact, but try linking the quiet and the bright: Choose hues that echo undertones found in natural elements.
• Experiment with low-risk investments. For newcomers to color, Lewis suggests using less expensive materials in daring hues and keeping more expensive elements — rugs, sofas — in the neutral family. “Stay away from brightly colored tile and stone finishes. With color, you need to be able to switch things out if you tire of it.” Try a laminate countertop, which is not only inexpensive but easy to swap out, says Lewis. And instead of buying that groovy purple sofa, start with colorful throw pillows.
• Introduce bold color with paint. “It’s the cheapest thing in the world and the easiest to change,” Lewis says. For a twist, use paint on unexpected surfaces — instead of painting a wall, give your front door or wood cabinets a splash.