Color Your World: Select the Perfect Outdoor Color Palette in 3 Easy Steps

Outdoor throw pillows

Palette selection can sometimes feel like an infinite swirl of color swatches. Choosing the perfect outdoor color palette is rarely easy! While many picture-perfect outdoor designs may appear effortless, color theory is a complex practice implemented by many knowledgeable designers. Today, we’ll reveal their secrets. When the rainbow of options feels overwhelming, turn to these three simple rules:

  1. Explore the Environment – Take inspiration from your surroundings. What colors and shades can you see from your outdoor space? Evergreen pine trees? Steel grey skyline? Turquoise waves on white sand? Jot down a list of all the colors you can see.
    Now, consider this list. Which shades do you prefer? If you find these colors attractive, you might want to select an outdoor color palette that mirrors the environmental color scheme. If the colors don’t resonate with you, opt for complementary or contrasting shades.
  2. Consider the Mood – Fact: The palette you choose will influence the mood of the room. Color conveys many nonverbal cues, and can even trigger psychological responses. Are you hoping to create a spa-like atmosphere? A family friendly gathering space? An outdoor entertainer’s oasis? Consider how color may influence your design objectives. Later, we’ll explore the common meanings & effects of color.
  3. Create Cohesion – Consider the interior design. You’ll want to create a natural transition from indoor to outdoor spaces. Include similar colors, patterns, materials, and design elements to achieve a more seamless flow. If you choose to change the outdoor color palette, follow these general guidelines: dark or muted shades support traditional decor, lighter shades look transitional, and bright shades appear more modern.

Complementary vs. Analogous Colors

Complementary Colors: Any two colors which are directly opposite each other on the color wheel. Opposing colors create maximum contrast.
Analogous Colors: Any three colors which fall side by side on a 12-part color wheel. These colors create harmonious softness.

Professional Opinion: Hot Tips from Two Interior Designers

Mallory Mathison Glenn Outdoor Patio

“Summer Classics has such a wonderful range of outdoor furniture styles so we can find the perfect pieces to work for any client from traditional to contemporary. My favorite Summer Classics collections would have to be the Classic Wicker (seen here) and the new Roma collection.” ––MMG                                                                               Photo courtesy of Legacy Homes by Bill Clark

“The most important thing to consider is how your client’s are going to use the space and making it as beautiful, comfortable and functional as possible,” explains Atlanta interior designer Mallory Mathison Glenn. She continues, “I love to use blue and green in outdoor spaces, taking nature’s palette as inspiration. I also love to mix patterns and fabrics on pillows, but keep the cushions on outdoor furniture the same to create consistency.”

Julie Glew of Wilmington’s Custom Home Staging & Design also weighs in: “The most important element to consider when selecting an outdoor color palette is the surrounding natural features.” Admitting that it’s difficult to select a prefered palette, she adds, “cool tones of blue and grey, punches of aqua, and textured wood are my favorite…today!”

Moody Hues: How Color Influences Mood

Countless studies have shown that each shade on the color spectrum may have a profound influence on behavior and mood. Use our color wheel cheat-sheet to discover how your favorite hues may impact your mood.


Orange outdoor color cushions

Adding a pop of *orange* to our Aire Chaise Lounge Chairs makes this rustic-style pool house turn into the perfect summer-time hangout spot!

Vivacious and approachable, orange hues are perfect for family-friendly spaces. Fresh shades like tangerine are especially youthful, making them ideal for homes with children or teens.

Sunflower Yellow 

Yellow outdoor cushions

Adding a hint of yellow to our Ocean Teak Outdoor Dining Chairs screams summer!

Like the petals of your favorite childhood flower, bright yellow brings feelings of warmth and nostalgia. This cheerful color may promote happiness and meaningful conversation.

Emerald Green 

Black wicker furniture

Considered the most restful color for eyes, green encourages relaxation and togetherness. A rich shade of emerald sets the tone for a fresh & formal atmosphere.

Aqua Blue 

Outdoor Teak Furniture

Blue palettes mirror the free-flowing nature of water, promoting serenity and peace. Hoping to create a vacation-ready vibe? Aqua is perfect for your poolside paradise.

Want to learn more about outdoor color trends? Check out our latest blog highlighting 2018 Outdoor Fabric Trends!