Opposites Attract: Use Contrast For A Balanced Design

In design, contrast is important for creating interest and balance in a room. Even in a space where one element dominates, like a room with an all-white palette, a good design will bring in contrast in other ways, choosing different textures, shapes, and materials for visual interest and appeal.

There are so many simple ways to add contrast to a room’s décor. Whether you’re starting from scratch, repainting walls, or just picking out pillows to decorate the bed, keep these elements in mind to make sure your space has the variety it needs to feel balanced.


If bold is your thing, choose complementary colors. Every color has its natural opposite, or complement, like red and green, blue and orange, or coral and turquoise. Putting complementary colors next to each other makes each appear more vivid.

But contrast doesn’t mean colors have to battle for attention. Using coral as an accent in a room with lots of turquoise will provide enough contrast to brighten the whole room.

You can also create contrast by combining neutrals with more vivid hues. Add pops of color in an all-white space for a dramatic effect. But even without dramatic colors, you can create stunning contrast within a monochrome palette and even with simple black, white, and gray.


There are two general kinds of shapes: geometric and organic. Geometric shapes have straight lines, clear edges, and (unless it’s a circle) lots of angles. Organic shapes have more flow to them, more curves, and definitely less symmetry. If the furniture and patterns in your room are mostly geometric, adding organic accents can be as simple as putting up a curvy lamp or a live plant.


Using a variety of materials in a room is a fantastic way to create interesting contrasts. Choose different materials for bedding, rugs, curtains, and pillows, whether it’s touches of faux fur, satin, velvet, cotton, or linen, different materials mean variations in texture as well. Soft textiles contrast wonderfully with metal and wood elements. You can also create contrast within one type of material, like using different kinds of wood in the same space.


Contrast isn’t just for the eyes. Textures can be alluring, especially in a bedroom. It can be as dramatic as an exposed brick wall or as subtle as embroidery on a pillow. One easy way to play up texture is to juxtapose hard surfaces with soft textiles, like a woven rug on a hardwood floor.

Keep in mind that the elements you choose for contrast will have a lot to do with your design style. A contemporary bedroom that mostly uses geometric shapes, solid colors, and metallic accents would be a prime site for organic touches. A touch of bright white can make a traditional bedroom feel just modern enough. And in an eclectic space that combines elements from many different styles, contrast practically is the style.

Whatever your taste, there is always room for variety.