Don’t Be Afraid to Embrace Color in Your Home

An expert talks honing your tastes, color blocking and more.

living room
Choose an amount of color you feel comfortable with. Photo: Shapes For the People

Color can evoke a certain feeling in a home, offer an element of playfulness or drama. It can also be intimidating, especially when making a big change.

That’s where South Orange-based Madeline Shaw, owner of Shapes For the People, comes in. Her company paints geometric murals and offers color consultations for residential and commercial spaces.

Here are her tips for embracing color.


Start by asking yourself some questions, says Shaw. What do I want for my home? How do I want to feel in a particular room? What colors do I naturally gravitate toward? “Think about what you love,” she says.

Madeline Shaw

Madeline Shaw owns Shapes For the People. Photo: Courtesy of Aimee Ryan


If you live in a mostly neutral home, you can “take a gentle approach” to embracing color, says Shaw. Choose one hue to experiment with—something you’re drawn to—and start with accessories like throw pillows, which don’t require a huge commitment. “Most of the time, when I go into people’s homes, I can see there’s already a pattern emerging.”


“As much as I love color, I’m not about throwing it on anything and everything,” says Shaw of her approach to her own home. Instead, she uses color blocking. “Pretty much all of our walls, apart from our living room, are white as, like, a palate cleanser. And then we have a bright-blue ceiling in one living room; in our kitchen, we have a pink ceiling that runs sort of like a waterfall from the ceiling down. And we have a bright-orange kitchen counter.”

room with geometric mural

Shapes For the People creates geometric murals in people’s homes. Photo: Shapes For the People


When it comes to bold declarations like one of Shaw’s patterned murals, think carefully about where and how to make your statement. A guest powder room or a playroom, for example, can be a fun spot for playfulness or an element of surprise. “If it’s your dining room, it needs to be something that’s palatable for a longer period of time, perhaps, because it’s an investment,” she says.

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