creating the color story

Event Decor Series: Creating the Color Story

Color is one of the most basic elements of any event. It’s the foundation of your theme, it informs the rest of your event decor, and it’s one of the first things you decide on when you’re working with a client. But just because it’s basic doesn’t mean it’s easy!

Even with your handy color cheat sheet, mastering color takes practice. Not only do you have to choose a palette that goes together—you also have to find the colors that express the event’s theme, mood, and story.

Not sure where to start? We’ll take you through a crash course in creating that color story!

A quick refresher…

bright hues primary colors

Before you get into the complexities of color stories, you need a good grasp of the basics. Working with color gets a lot easier when you can communicate what you’re envisioning. That means knowing your color terminology!


  • A hue is a pure color
  • A tint is a hue mixed with white
  • A tone is a hue mixed with grey
  • A shade is a tone mixed with black

Capturing the mood

For every individual, colors can have different meanings. Cornflower blue might remind one client of her grandmother’s kitchen, while it might make another client think of ugly paint in the office of a job she hated!

blue decor primary color

But in general, certain colors tend to stir particular feelings in everyone. Knowing a little bit about color psychology can help you capture the mood your client is looking for in her event decor.

Red is exciting, dramatic, and emotional. It helps to warm the body, stimulate the mind, and create energy in a space. It’s a bold color choice associated with passion, fire, and romance.

Orange is associated with decision-making and optimism. Another warm, upbeat color, orange helps create a space that feels rich and natural. Watch out, though—it can also make guests feel rushed.

Yellow is a happy, sunny color, often associated with hope, energy, and positivity.

Blue is a tranquil color that’s commonly linked to spirituality and religion. This relaxing, cool color can give your event decor a feeling of calmness and strength.

Green is associated with nature, growth, and renewal. It creates a sense of peace and hope, and is often considered to help with healing and health.

Violet is commonly used to instill a sense of regal luxury in event decor. It’s also linked with magic and imagination, especially in lighter tints.

White can help your event decor or stifle it. Used right, it can be crisp, clean, and cool—but misused, it turns your event decor sterile, cold, and distant.

Black is traditionally associated with death, mourning, and mystery. As an accent, though, it helps create a sense of formality and elegance.

Choosing your colors

choosing the colors for your event theme

Now comes the tricky part—actually working with those colors! Nervous? Don’t be. Just keep your trusty color wheel beside you!

Your clients will have their own personal reactions, responses, and preferences for certain colors. But color psychology can help you and your clients get a sense of the mood your event decor color story will create for their space and their guests.

Primary Colors

Your event planning client may already have an idea of the colors she wants to use. Or, she may come to you ready to start from scratch. Either way, you can keep things simple by starting with the primary colors. This might just be one color, or it might be a few. The primary color or colors will make up the foundation of your event decor. The decision will be based on your clients’ preferences, her vision, and any inspiration she’s come across already.

Ease the process along by having your portfolio on hand. It’s also worth checking out Pinterest or other sites for mood boards based around certain colors and color stories. That way, it’ll be easier for your client to visualize how certain colors can be used within a space.

Base Color

So your client has picked red as her primary color—does that mean every single component of event decor is going to be red? Definitely not! A good color story lets the primary color shine without making a space feel overwhelming or flat.

Base colors are usually shades of white, cream, beige, grey, or black. These colors aren’t overwhelming in large doses, and they’re subtle enough to make your primary color stand out. When picking the base, think about the effect your base will have on your primary color. Red as a primary color will look very different with a black base versus a cream one!

Accent Colors

red accent color

Accent colors help add interest and dimension to your event decor. They also create a more detailed color story. Just like picking your base, picking your accent colors can totally transform the way you use your primary color in a space. The possibilities are just about endless!

To pick your accent color, look back to that trusty color cheat sheet. Complementary? Double complementary? Split complementary? Monochromatic? All of these color schemes are based on the color wheel, and they can all help you create a unique color story for your event decor that captures your client’s special vision.

Bringing the color story to life

We’ve come to the last step in our color story journey—actually applying that color scheme to your client’s space. This isn’t just something you do on the day of the event when you’re putting the final touches on your event decor. You should use it to help inform your client’s choices—and your vendors’ creations—when they’re picking everything from linens to flowers.

Luckily, there’s a simple rule for applying your color story, though it may take some practice to perfect your technique. To really bring your color story to life…

  • The primary color should take up about 60% of the space
  • The base color should take up about 30% of the space
  • The accent color should take up about 10% of the space

Of course, there are other considerations to keep in mind as well. The size of your space and the areas you want to draw attention to (or distract attention away from) will also impact how you apply your color story.

While creating your color story might seem simple, don’t overlook how important it is! Even the best vendors may struggle with a mediocre color story—while a good one will bring your event decor to life!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment!

Want to offer professional decor services to your clients? QC’s Event Decor course will teach you how to design gorgeous events!

One response to “Event Decor Series: Creating the Color Story”

    Wonderful explanation of colors, and mixing of colors.

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