How to Pick Paint Colors that go with an Oriental Rug/Carpet

Picking Paint Colors that go with, in this case, a predominately Burgundy oriental rug.

Picking Paint Colors that go with, in this case, a predominately Burgundy oriental rug.

When interior decorating a single room, or a whole house you have to start somewhere. A colorful oriental carpet, also thought of as an inspiration piece will provide many color options for you to work with. This post is about looking at paint color strips, matching them to your inspiration piece and working with shades, tones and tints of color as the professional decorators do.

Looking at the Predominate color of the oriental rug.

Looking at the Predominate color of the oriental rug.

When interior decorating a room you normally want to work with four colors: one Predominate color, one Subordinate color and one or two Accent colors, (plus the color white). The Predominate color is the first color that you see when entering a room, as it is probably the strongest color and used the most in the space. The Subordinate color is the second most used color in a room. Finally, the accent colors are colors that are used sparing, here and there in the space.

Looking at the above photo and the cover shot for this post (click on photos to enlarge) you can see that burgundy is the predominate color of the oriental carpet. Starting with the predominate color burgundy, I found three dark samples of that color that I think look similar to the color found on the carpet; they are at the bottom of the paint color strips closest to the pin that holds the Sherwin Williams paint color fan together. When looking for paint colors get samples from many different paint companies, as every paint manufacturer produces different versions of colors. No paint color will be an exact match to something like the color of the wool oriental carpet, but try to find something that looks good, even if it is not a 100% perfect.

The three paint color strips, seen in the above photo, show the predominate color of the rug, and are found consecutively next to each other in the paint color fan. All three, in different lights, work well with the burgundy of the rug. The paint color strip on the left is a burgundy that is a bit more plum colored, as it has more blue in it. The paint color strip in the center is a bit more red, and the deep dark red, on the right has some yellow/golden undertones to it, which send those paint colors in the salmon direction.

Looking separately at each of these three paint color strips, you see both shades and tints of each color on that one paint color strips. The darkest color is called the shade, and each of the consecutively lighter colors, on that paint color strip, have different amounts of pure white added to them to lighten the colors. The lightest color at the end of the strip is called a tint, as it is the lightest version of that color produced by the paint manufacturer.

Looking at all three of the paint color strips, from the darkest shade to the lightest tint, any of the colors seen would work with the burgundy of the oriental rug. If a person wants something dramatic, the darker versions of the colors from the paint color strips would be great. If a person wants something a bit lighter, they could choose from the middle colors on the strip, which I call jewel pastels; and if they want something that just has a hint of the color, they could pick the lightest versions on the ends of the strips. Being that the lightest versions are really watered down (white added) versions of the darkest shades, they are all part of the same family of colors.

When painting walls a dark color, or a middle range color ( a jewel pastel) get the paint in an egg-shell, satin finish, or even semi gloss finish, as dark colors can easily bruise if brushed up against, which shows a lighter kind of scuff mark.  The shinier paint finishes provide a more protective/washable coating to the color.

Looking at the Subordinate color of the oriental carpet.

Looking at the Subordinate color of the oriental carpet.

The three paint color strips, shown above, are what I feel are the subordinate, second most seen colors on the rug. Golden tones appear in many of the leaves and flowers, as well as the background of the border. All three paint color strips, which are next to each other in the paint color fan, possess tones of gold that are seen in different times of the day on the rug; depending on personal taste, any of them would work.

The paint color strip on the left shows tones of gold that are a bit on the orange side of gold. The paint strip in the middle shows golden tones that are a bit brown, and the paint color strip on the right has subtle green undertones. When looking at different parts of the carpet, where burgundy is next to gold, the eye wants to blend the two in a pointillist kind of way, which creates a more orange toned gold (yellow + red = orange), and in places where gold is next to the colonial blue, a kind of green appears (yellow + blue = green).

Looking at the Accent Colors of the oriental rug.

Looking at the Accent Colors of the oriental rug.

The two accent colors on this oriental carpet are colonial blue and navy blue; the above photo shows paint color strips that possess those colors. The paint color strips, again were next to each other in the paint color fan.

First of all look at the three dark versions of the navy blue at the bottom of the paint color strips, seen next to the pin that holds the fan together; they are the shades (darkest value) of each of the different blues on each of the individual paint color strips. On this oriental carpet, the darkest shade, and a lighter version of that color make up the two accent colors used to create the rug.

Now look at the paint color strip on the left, it shows tones of colonial blue that are a bit purple. The paint color strip in the center shows tones of colonial blue that are a bit gray, and the strip on the right, ever so slightly possessed green tones.

Again, any of the tones of blue on these paint color strips, as well as all of the burgundy and gold tones covered earlier in this post would work with the carpet. If you like, you can go for an exact match, or something that is darker or lighter. If you are afraid a color might be too dark to live with, pick the next lighter version of the color on that single paint color strip and that should be fine. The thing is that, if you can isolate your original color on a paint color strip, any of the lighter or darker colors will work with your inspiration piece.

Now let’s look at the room again and how the colors, pulled from the rug, were worked around the space.

IMG_1834 Interior decorating is really all about working color, pattern and texture around a space.  In most cases, no color, pattern or texture should ever be seen only in one spot in a room, as the eye will go to it and stay there. By using color pattern and texture in many places in a room it keeps the eye moving around the space.

Now look at the above photograph of my TV room. The inspiration piece for the room was the oriental rug. The burgundy of the carpet is seen moving up onto the modular sofa in the form of the pillows and the throw. The burgundy red them becomes the wall color, and is also seen as part of the color story of the wallpaper border that runs around the top of the room by the ceiling (it is view-able in the next photo). Also notice how the artworks also have some red in them, which keeps the red moving around that side of the room.

Next look at the patterns in the room. The oriental carpet is composed of round-arching shaped elements (flowers and leaves). The pattern of the carpet is considered small. Now look at the throw on the sofa. It is composed of the same colors as the rug and also has rounded-arching shapes, but the pattern is larger scaled, and the large burgundy red spaces on it make it more relaxed looking than the much more busy rug.

In interior decorating there are predominate, subordinate and accent colors in a room, and there are also predominate, subordinate and accent fabrics, and in this room the throw is the predominate fabric, because of its pattern size. The second most seen fabric (subordinate fabric), which also has all of the colors seen in the carpet are the striped pillows. One is on the sofa, and two others are on the gold toned club chairs on the other side of the room (seen in the next photo). The striped pillows also have a green stripe in them, that is why the two small green pillows also work in the room. At the center of the sofa is a pillow with a solid background. Because of the large amount of its background color, and its subdued pattern, in a way it reads as a solid.  The oriental carpet, even though it was the inspiration piece, really turned out to be one of the accents. The next photo shows the throw, a striped pillow and the rug next to each other so you can see the different sizes/strengths of the patterns.


Now look at the room again. Notice how the colonial blue of the rug moves up onto the sofa, and forms the top of the balloon valances, which are part of the window treatments. The colonial blue also appears as part of the wallpaper border that is seen in the next photo.

Finally, look at how the gold of the carpet is also used on the two chairs on the left side of the room, and how it is seen on the pillows and throw on the sofa, as well as on the large painting in the form of the cats, and how it is also seen as the framing for the artwork. Interior decorating really all about moving color, pattern and texture from floor, up onto the walls, and even to the ceiling.

IMG_1848 Looking from the sofa you can see the other side of my TV room. First notice the wallpaper border that runs around the top of the room, below the crown molding; it is composed of different tones of burgundy, colonial and navy blue. Secondly notice the two striped pillows on the two gold club chairs. They are mates of the one opposite them on the sofa. Look at my collection of Audrey Grendahl Kuhn original serigraphs, she is an artist friend of mine, we did shows together, back in the day. All of Audrey’s prints, as well as the door that I painted have the four colors in them that are pulled from the oriental carpet. In the foreground you see a Chinese bench, it too keeps the red working around the room.

Looking at the room from this side, you can also see that the green from the two throw pillows on the modular sofa (talked about earlier), appears as the color of the Norfolk Island Pine, is part of the color story of one of the prints, and is seen on the painted door.

So there you have it, a look at how I pulled colors from my oriental carpet and created, what I think is a warm and inviting TV room.  I choose to have red walls, but how different it would look if I did them in a dark version of the colonial blue, or even one of the golden tones.  My objective with this post was to get you looking at, and thinking about using color, and even pattern and how to work color and pattern around a room to create something that is beautiful.  Now I want you to go through better decorating magazines like Veranda, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, etc and see what the pros did. Knowing some basics of design, you will be able to understand what others have done.  The pictures in magazines will not be just pretty things, but knowing some basics, you will be able to look at them and know why they look pleasing to you.  Happy Decorating!

Companion Posts on Fred Gonsowski Garden

Pick (Use) four colors when Decorating a Room 3-7-2011,
Paint a Room a Dark Color, then add light Accessories 3-27-2011,
Interior Decorating is all about Equal Balance 2-27-2011,
Color Theory..When Interior Decorating a room, REMEMBER wood is a color too 3-9-2013,
Accent Walls..Some Ideas for Painting or Wallpapering an Accent Wall in your Home 10-29-2013,
It’s EASY to Paint Horizontal Strips on a Wall, step-by-step instructions 11-8-2013,
Interior Decorating ideas for a Small House, Condominium or Apartment 11-24-2014,

Hanging Window Treatments…
The Right Way to Hang Curtains and Drapes 5-3-2011,
Hanging Valances, Curtains and Drapes on Different kinds of Windows 7-15-2012,

The Right height of a Table Lamp for your End Table 5-19-2011,
The answer to…”Can you put a Floor Lamp next to a Sofa?” 10-4-2012,
Interior Decorating with Accent Lamps 12-5-2012,
Interior Decorating with Table Lamps 12-12-2012,
Interior Decorating with Buffet Lamps 12-19-2012,
Looking at the Different Shapes of Lamp Bases 12-21-2013,
Matching the Right shape End Table with a Table Lamp 1-12-2014,

Hanging Pictures and Mirrors…
Hanging Pictures over a Sofa 9-12-2011,
Picking and Hanging the Right size Picture or Mirror over your Fireplace 6-23-2011,
It’s Easy to Make a Grouping of Picture 6-29-2011,
Making an Interesting Arrangement of Pictures 7-8-2011,
It’s Easy to Hang Pictures up on the Wall 7-17-2011,
Hanging Pictures Around a Room 8-3-2011,
Step-by-step instructions for Hanging a Gallery Wall 2-15-2015,
It’s Easy to Decorate a room with a Tall/High Ceiling 2-3-2013,

Arranging Furniture…
Arranging Living Room furniture so Sofas talk to Chairs, like the Pros do 9-7-2012,
Arranging Furniture TWELVE different ways in the Same room 9-15-2012,
Arranging Furniture around a Fireplace in the Corner of a Room 9-29-2012,
When buying Living Room Furniture, FORGET the Love Seat, buy two Wing, Club or Occasional Chairs instead 10-13-2012,
It’s EASY to Arrange Furniture in a Square Living Room, some ideas that will inspire you 11-29-2013,
Arranging furniture in a 12 foot wide by 24 foot long Living Room 2-5-2014,

Looking at Fabrics, Wallpapers and Carpeting….
Looking at Patterns used in Interior Decorating on Fabric, Drapes, Wallpaper and Carpeting 3-10-2012,
Interior Decorating..Looking at the Different sizes of Patterns used on Wallpaper and Fabric 3-20-2012,
Mixing and Matching Fabric and Wallpaper Patterns 4-13-2012,

Personalizing a room with collectables…
Arranging your Decorative Accessories (Knickknacks and Collectables) 6-7-2011,
Arranging Decorative Accessories on a Sofa table, Buffet, Sideboard or Credenza 3-10-2015,
A Bridge unites Tablescapes and Wall Decor 6-10-2011,
Hanging a Collection of Plates/Dishes up on the wall 1-19-2013.


About fredgonsowskigardenhome

Your eyes deserve to view beauty. I hope Fred Gonsowski Garden Home helps to turn your vision, into a reality.
This entry was posted in Interior Decorating Principles, Picking Paint Colors Interior / Exterior / Front Door / Roof. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How to Pick Paint Colors that go with an Oriental Rug/Carpet

  1. Njeri says:

    Absolutely loved the article!!! Very well explained with examples!!! Thumbs up!

  2. you have no idea how much ua article is of great help to me. i have been stuck with color errors for years. such informative piece.

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