How to Use Tone On Tone Color In Your Decor

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Image: BWArchitects

I’m always interested in the simplest ways to update my interiors, and one of my favorite ideas is to use tone on tone colors in your decor. It’s a process I’ve used over and over again: just choose an existing color—from your room’s finishes, furnishings, even art—then use it to create matching (or sometimes a shade or two off) walls, rugs, and other pieces in the space. The result always feels elegant and modern. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to approach this style of decorating.

Going Monochrome

This bathroom space uses the polished concrete floor color as the basis for its sophisticated monochromatic décor. The matching wall and drapery color bring a calm beauty to the room and provide a great backdrop for the pristine white porcelain tub. I’ve also seen this done effectively in a dining room where the walls were painted the same shade as the dining chairs, offsetting the wood dining table beautifully.

Adding Anchors

Tone on Tone Black and White Table on the Interior Collective
Image: Penny Hay

While the bathtub in the previous example stands out like a gem in the monochromatic environment, the example above uses both white and black to anchor the room. These colors also provide beginning and ending points for the range of related tones. Starting again with the hue of the concrete floor, the modern sofa is a slightly lighter shade while the plush rug is a deeper version of the same color. By adding black and white to the tone on tone selections, one is able to expand and ground the palette.

Graphic Appeal

Tone on Tone Print Bedroom on the Interior Collective
Image: Oliver Yaphe

This example is one of my favorites. Using art as your basis for what color range you employ – or incorporating art in your decorating plan – adds a graphic element to your space. Visual texture is a wonderful way to create variety in your tone on tone design scheme.

Start Small

Tone on Tone Dresser on the Interior Collective
Image: Remodelista

It can be overwhelming to take on a decorating concept that’s new to you, and a great idea is to start with a smaller, more manageable space. Instead of tackling an entire room, experiment with an area like the kitchen space shown above. This also shows a wider range of hues, but that’s okay—after all, décor is about expressing your own take on these principles, right?

How are you using tone on tone décor in your home?

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Dave Hime, founder/curator of, has been an interior design addict for as long as he can remember. In 2005, he bought a house-in-progress and missed several opportunities to have an influence on his own home decor–leaving him wanting more. With design heroes such as Blake Dollahite ( and Robert & Cortney Novogratz (, Dave began seeking out online resources that would exemplify the interior design practices he's most drawn to: using color, texture and simple materials well. Bringing all of this together, along with his specific focus on providing interior design inspiration from a man's point of view, is Dave's mission: masculine design.