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Family Room Colors
That Work With My New Sofa

What family room colors would help me integrate an unexpected sofa color? (Reader Question)

family room in turquoise and olive

Hello Renate,

I purchased a sofa that I thought was a deep tan, but once delivered, the color looks more olive.

How can I make this work with the other items already in the room and the intented turquoise wall accent color that's already at the bottom of the chair rail?

Attached is a picture that might give you an idea of the family room colors I'm working with. (The space is rather messy b/c I was just starting to pull it all together.)

The sofa has turquoise and a hint of red in it, which is why I chose the upholstery for the pillows.

I do appreciate your comments ... thanks!

Giulia (USA)

Also attached was a short video to document Giulia's family room colors - here are a few stills for a 'color combination chart':

turquoise paint color under chair rail

brick and deep red wood table

Hello Giulia,

Your video really helped me understand your family room colors, particularly the reds that are in there, as well as the flooring and the wall art.

By the way, it is very possible that the lighting in which you originally saw the sofa did not show the olive hue at all!

Your basic color scheme can be understood as a split complementary red-olive-turquoise color scheme:

split complementary color scheme


The difference between the above examples of a split-complementary color scheme and your room is that...

... except for the colorful wall art, your room color mood is much more subdued, because your carpet & furniture colors contain a lot of (neutral) gray and brown.

Just as an aside, here's some information about using color theory / a color combination chart to create great room color combinations:

Now, back to your family room colors:

I love the combination of olive sofa and teal cushions - right on the (split-complementary) button.

The dulled/grayed shades of the furniture & the brick/cotto fireplace contrast slightly with the turquoise wall paint, which seems to be a more saturate, 'clean', bright turquoise than your other family room colors.

So on the one hand, the room might look more 'together' if you overpainted below the chair rail in a more grayed (and slightly darker) version of the same turqoise.

On the other hand, you don't want the painting to look as if it didn't belong in the room, so you need to keep the wall color combinations bright enough to complement this object.

It's a fine line to tread! I've made you a 'before & after' illustration to show how the wall and sofa colors could be integrated:

family room with olive sofa and teal cushions

Seeing as there is quite a bit of brick red & deep terracotta in the room, you could repeat those colors in a few more sofa cushions. A combination of burnt orange (as in the painting) and dark, glowing brick red/terracotta (fireplace, leather seat, blanket) would work!

In addition, I would probably add a few more turquoise cushions (in the same material & color you have already used).

Your coffee table looks just a bit on the purple side - this may be due to the lighting in the photo/video. To counteract any pinkishness in the room, I would try to keep large surfaces (e.g. your wall above the chair rail) strictly neutral. In the 'after' picture, I've desaturated the wall color a little to show the difference.

There ... my two cents. I hope this works for you, Giulia. Do let me know what you think!

All the best,

Hi Renate,

Your 'two cents' is quite valuable. You immediately recognized what I forgot to say--when I was looking at fabric samples, the lighting in the showroom didn't show the olive hue at all! That's exactly what happened. The difference in lighting in the store and my room didn't occur to me at the time. Needless to say when the sofa arrived I was taken aback by the color difference.

I thought my sofa & chair purchases had put me in a situation I wouldn't be able to live with. You have helped me appreciate the colors, and I have actually begun to like them because they are different, and interesting. I can see your point with adding more red/orange hues. I hadn't thought to do that, but the pillow in the "after" picture helps make the point (how did you do that?)

Also, I plan to purchase a media unit for the television, so I will remember to keep the piece more neutral. There's a whole other side to the room (beyond the sofa) that my husband will use as an office area, which we need to furnish eventually. I will keep the idea of neutral surfaces in mind for those purchases as well.

Thank you so much for your time and your (very prompt) input. Your website is one of the best design sites I've seen. I love reading design magazines and find your website to be more magazine-like with very interesting reading. I plan to subscribe to your newsletter as well.

Great advice. I'm very thankful.

Warm regards,

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