7 Color Palettes Inspired By Famous Paintings
When decorating a room, it can be challenging to decide on a color scheme. For example, do you choose light colors or dark contrasts? Restrained neutrals or quirky pops of color? Warm tones or cool?
When searching for interior design inspiration, sometimes there can be no better place to look than the world of fine art. Throughout history, famous painters have created masterpieces with beautiful and revolutionary uses of color.
To help you choose the perfect interior design color palettes, we’ve compiled 7 colorful paintings from history with a little background on each. Then, with images courtesy of 1stDibs, we’ll show you some examples of how to incorporate the colors and mood of each painting into your home.
1. Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (1495-98)
This well-known Renaissance masterpiece was painted in tempera on a dry wall. Even though the work has been through tremendous changes over the centuries, including significant damage and restoration efforts, The Last Supper is still recognized in part for its bold colors.
Use the palette and furniture ideas below to create a Leonardo da Vinci-inspired color scheme. Specifically, take inspiration from the red, blue, yellow, and greens in the Biblical scene and on the apostles’ bright robes.
2. Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665)
Girl with a Pearl Earring is a painting famous for its mysterious subject. Created by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, the painted girl wears exotic, colorful clothing and an overly large pearl hangs from her ear.
If you’re looking to create a soft color palette with contrasting yellow and blues, this color palette could be perfect for you.
3. Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa (1820–31)
This iconic woodblock print portrays an enormous tsunami nearly swallowing a tiny Mt. Fuji in the background. You’ve likely seen images of The Great Wave off Kanagawa everywhere for a reason; the scene beautifully captures the power and grandeur of nature, and was hugely influential to later artists. The painting also stands out for Hokusai’s masterful combination of Prussian blue and indigo.
This color palette of the ocean interplaying with soft peach is perfect for a nautical-themed room or simply any space that could benefit from some cool-toned blues.
4. Mary Cassatt’s In the Loge (1878)
Famous Impressionist Mary Cassatt has many iconic paintings, but In the Loge makes use of lovely golden-yellows, browns, and reds that are perfect for a warm-toned interior. The painting shows an elegant woman peering through opera glasses in the audience of a Parisian theater.
Take inspiration from this sophisticated piece with persian rugs, mahogany, and other decor that incorporates its warmth along with rich, dark black and browns.
5. Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889)
Though his works weren’t well-known when he was alive, Vincent van Gogh is celebrated today for his vivid, poignant use of color. The Starry Night, one of his most famous works, was inspired by the view from van Gogh’s window in an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France. The remarkable painting shows a swirl of dazzling colors dancing across the night sky.
If bright blues and yellows catch your eye, consider a color scheme inspired by this masterpiece. Make sure to also choose furniture and decor pieces with playful, serpentine shapes to capture that swirling, cosmic atmosphere.
6. Claude Monet’s Water Lilies (1915)
Monet was a famous Impressionist artist who painted with vibrant colors. He was interested in capturing the evolving nature of light in various locations, and often painted one scene over and over at multiple times of day. He created 250 paintings of the water lilies in his garden in Giverny, France, and many, like this one, incorporate a calming combination of blue-green, blues, and purples.
For a tranquil and nature-inspired interior, use the soft pink of the water lily flowers as well as the deep greens and blues of the water and vegetation around them.
7. Wassily Kandinsky’s Composition 8 (1923)
Kandinsky was a key player in the abstract art movement in the early 1900s. He held a special interest in pure shapes and colors, and simplified works down to convey powerful emotions. Composition 8 is full of clean, overlapping lines as well as primary colors, purples, and beige.
For a modern interior, consider using these colors. To further capture the atmosphere of the painting, choose decor pieces with sharp lines and geometric shapes.
Hopefully studying these fine art masterpieces will have helped inspire which kinds of color schemes speak to you. However, there are many more astounding pieces of art out there to look to for inspiration. If you ever find a piece of art that draws your attention, take note of the colors, and you might just find that they can create the perfect accent for your space.