An eye-catching color scheme is essential for making any space look stylish and put-together. However, combining colors can be tricky, with some combinations coming across as harsh or disjointed. If you stick to the basics, like analogous or monochromatic schemes, you may end up with a color palette that’s safe yet boring. The good news is, with a bit of creativity and risk-taking, you can find unique color pairings that are both unexpected and beautiful. Here are 10 unexpected color combinations that work wonderfully together.
Citrus Delight: Tangerine + Lime Green
This combo pairs a punchy orange tone with a bright lime green for a scheme that’s fresh, fun and full of energy. It brings together warm and cool shades in a complementary way that’s still high-contrast enough to make a statement. Use it to give a muted space a major dose of color and vibrancy. It works beautifully in kids’ rooms, adding whimsy and visual interest.
Try pairing a tangerine accent wall with lime green bedding or furniture. You can also use tangerine pillows and artwork against a lime green sofa or headboard. For maximum citrus delight, paint the upper half of a wall tangerine and the lower half lime green.
Sophisticated Contrast: Navy Blue + Mustard Yellow
Navy blue and mustard yellow shouldn’t work together, yet they manage to create an elegant color combo. The rich navy acts as a neutral backdrop that lets the bright, golden mustard shine. While both colors are bold, their contrast is more sophisticated than harsh. Use this scheme anywhere you want to add a touch of stylish flair, from living rooms to bedrooms and offices.
Some ideas include a mustard sofa or accent chair against navy walls, mustard and navy striped pillows, or a navy headboard with mustard bedding. Navy cabinets or shelves filled with mustard knick-knacks also pop beautifully.
Retro Chic: Robin’s Egg Blue + Burnt Orange
This pairing channels retro style in the best possible way. Robin’s egg blue is a pale yet lively pastel teal that pairs nicely with the earthy vibrancy of burnt orange. Despite their stark differences, the two colors complement each other, creating a cheerful 1960s/70s aesthetic. Use this combo to brighten up a boring space or add a playful splash of color to a neutral room.
Try blue walls with orange furniture or accents, an orange sofa with blue throw pillows, or a blue concrete coffee table with an orange area rug. Blue kitchen cabinets also pop beautifully against an orange tile backsplash.
Sunset Safari: Burnt Orange + Deep Purple
For an exotic color scheme, try pairing the warmth of burnt orange with rich, regal purple. These two shades complement each other perfectly, creating a bold palette inspired by an African sunset. Use it in spaces where you want to create an earthy yet luxurious feel, like bedrooms or dining rooms.
Some chic ways to use this combo include a purple sofa or armchair with burnt orange pillows, purple walls with orange artwork and decor, or an orange area rug layered under purple furniture. Purple drapes or valence also help balance out the strong orange tones.
Retro Rainbow: Mustard Yellow + Bubblegum Pink
This playful pairing instantly transports you back to the funky 1970s. Bubblegum pink is an unapologetically bright, sugary shade that pops against golden mustard yellow. Together, they create a joyful, nostalgic color scheme that’s upbeat yet sophisticated. Use it to brighten up a child’s room in a retro way, or add it to a living area for a spirited splash of color.
Some fun ways to use it include a pink sofa or chairs with yellow walls, pink and yellow patterned curtains or bedding, or a pink shag rug layered on top of yellow hardwood floors.
Calming Contrast: Light Blue + Burnt Orange
Robin’s egg blue makes another appearance, this time paired with earthy burnt orange. What makes this combo work is that the light blue has a subtle calming effect that perfectly balances out the strong orange tones. Despite their differences, the two colors complement each other beautifully.
Incorporate this palette with orange walls and light blue furnishings or accents, an orange sofa dressed up with blue throw pillows, or a blue area rug that adds a cool counterpoint to orange floors and furniture.
Modern Jewel Tones: Eggplant Purple + Turquoise
If you love rich, dramatic colors, pair dark eggplant purple with vivid turquoise blue. These jewel tones contrast beautifully while still complementing each other. The cool tones of the turquoise balance out the warmer purple for a modern color pairing. Use this scheme anywhere you want make a bold statement, from living rooms to bedrooms.
Try turquoise dining chairs around a purple dining table, purple walls with turquoise art and accessories, or a vibrant turquoise sofa against purple walls. For bedrooms, a turquoise headboard pops beautifully against purple walls.
Retro Diner: Mint Green + Cherry Red
Bring back the 1950s with this color pairing inspired by retro diners. Mint green and cherry red are both playful, retro hues that feel fun and nostalgic when combined. Despite their vibrant colors, the two tones work surprisingly well together, keeping the scheme feeling unified. Use it to add spirited color to a kitchen, dining area or kids’ space.
Some ways to try it: a cherry red kitchen island paired with mint green cabinets, mint walls with cherry red bar stools or accent furniture, cherry dining chairs around a mint table, or mint and cherry stripes.
Sophisticated Gray: Light Gray + Olive Green
For a soothing, sophisticated color scheme, pair light gray with olive green. The muted gray takes on a greige tone beside the natural earthiness of olive green. Despite their differences, the two colors complement each other perfectly, creating a relaxing vibe. Use this combo in bedrooms, living rooms, offices and other spaces where you want a subtle, elegant color palette.
Incorporate it with an olive sofa or armchair against gray walls, gray shelving filled with olive green decorative objects, olive and gray patterned curtains, or an olive area rug layered on gray floors.
Vintage Jewel Tones: Emerald Green + Navy Blue
Emerald green and navy blue are rich jewel tones with vintage appeal. Together they create a luxurious, romantic color scheme with timeless sophistication. Use this pairing anywhere you want to create an elegant, lush aesthetic. It’s perfectly suited for bedrooms, home offices, dining rooms and living spaces.
Incorporate it with emerald walls and navy furniture or accents, a navy sofa dressed up with emerald pillows, or an emerald area rug layered on navy hardwood floors. Navy kitchen cabinetry also looks striking beside emerald green marble countertops or backsplashes.
When it comes to color pairing, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Complementary colors and analogous schemes can work beautifully, but unusual combinations add visual interest, personality and style to any space. The next time you need inspiration for paint, furniture or decor, look at colors in a fresh way. Experiment with bold or unexpected pairings for a color palette that’s uniquely you. With creativity and a daring attitude, you can find colors that complement each other in beautiful new ways.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some tips for combining colors that seem to clash?
Some tips for making seemingly clashing colors work include:
- Use one color as an accent, against a larger backdrop of the other color. The accent color pops instead of overwhelming.
- Add a transitional color between the two to bridge the gap. For example, put purple between red and green.
- Repeat one of the colors throughout in the same tones to create cohesion.
- Use contrasting textures like glossy and matte to heighten the color contrast.
- Add pops of a third complementary color, like yellow with purple and green.
- Anchor the colors with plenty of neutrals like white, black or wood tones.
How do you mix warm and cool colors in a room?
Some ways to successfully mix warm and cool colors in a room include:
- Use warm colors for large areas and cool colors for accents. For example, warm peach walls with teal decor.
- Choose furniture and decor in one temperature, and paint or accessories in another. Like a cool blue sofa with warm wood and orange pillows.
- Pick a warm and cool version of the same color family, like yellow-orange and blue-green.
- Use warm grays and cool grays together since they act like neutrals.
- Add pops of black and white, which work with any palette.
- Repeat a warm and cool color throughout to tie the scheme together.
What are some color combinations to avoid?
Some color combinations to generally avoid include:
- Red and green, as they can look very Christmas-y.
- Bright yellow and purple, which can be garish.
- Light blue and brown, which tends to look disjointed.
- Red and orange, as they compete for attention.
- Bright pink and red, as they often clash.
- Light green and bright pink, which can look dated.
- Adjacent complementary colors like orange and blue, which are very high-contrast.
How do you make a small space look bigger through color choices?
Some tips for making a small space look bigger through color include:
- Use light, bright, cool colors like whites, pastels and airy blues and greens. Dark or warm colors recede.
- Avoid high contrast between colors. Graduating light to dark can expand a space.
- Repeating colors from room to room creates flow and the illusion of more space.
- Minimize clutter and busy patterns, which make rooms feel smaller.
- Use glossy finishes and reflective surfaces to bounce light around. Matte absorbs light.
- Paint ceilings white or the same color as walls to make the space feel more open.
What are the best paint colors for a north-facing room?
Some great paint color choices for a room with northern light include:
- Warm whites and soft cream tones that maximize the natural light. Avoid stark white.
- Light grays with a greige (gray-beige) undertone. Avoid cool grays.
- Soft sage greens, light sky blues and pale corals work well. Avoid dark shades.
- Warm yellows like lemon, butter or gold. Avoid bright yellow.
- neutrals like tan, taupe or warm cappuccino brown.
- Peaches, apricots and melon shades add warmth. Avoid bright oranges.
Creative color combinations open up endless possibilities for adding visual interest to any space. Trust your instincts, take some risks, and embrace unusual pairings to discover your own signature color palette. The most important rule is that there are no set rules – color is meant to be fun and expressive. With an open mind, even colors you never thought would work together can create beautiful and unexpected harmony.