Creating a Color Story to Design Your Apartment

If you are DIY-ing an apartment design, this post can help! In it, I will discuss a step-by-step guide (using advice from our in-house designers) for creating a color story that will help you design a cohesive, stunning apartment.

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Step 1: Get Inspired

The first thing you will want to do when creating a color story for your apartment is to come up with an inspiration for your palette. If you are designing a model apartment, I suggest that you spend some time thinking about your prospective residents. Who are they? What do they like? What are their main hobbies and interests? For more on how to create an ideal resident persona, check out this post on our blog: Designing for Your Ideal Resident Persona.

Choose Your Muse

Once you have an idea of who you are designing for, choose a colorful topic that fits their aesthetic. For example, if your community is in Tacoma, WA, and your ideal resident is a young couple who works during the week and enjoys outdoor adventures on the weekends, you might consider the nearby mountains to set the stage for your color story. 

Additional Sources of Inspiration

There are countless sources to choose from when it comes to creating a color story for design. Apartments for short-term use or model staging can be based on your preferences as well. After all, nobody knows your target audience better than you do! If the ideaI provided above doesn’t get your creative juices flowing, check out the list below:

    • Emotions/ Feelings
    • Places
    • Photography/ Art
    • Landscapes
    • Clothing/ Designers
    • Seasons
    • Design Styles/ Trends

… And these are just off-the-top-of-my-head ideas! Really, the possibilities are endless. 

Step 2: Mood Board It Out

Creating a mood board is a really important part to developing your color story. How else are you going to see if it all comes together the way you want it to?  When our designers begin a project, they use apps like Pinterest to find imagery that jives with their color inspo.

Today my inspiration is Scandinavian. And with that in mind, I am going to create my mood board! 

Check Out Adobe Spark... Seriously

Personally, my favorite application for creating stunning mood boards (for email campaigns, etc.,) is Adobe Spark. It offers great templates and helps you search the internet for free photographs. The best part is, you don’t need an Adobe account to use it! You can create a login via Google, Facebook, or Apple.  (If you don’t like the idea of using an online tool like Adobe Spark, you can use PowerPoint or a similar program to organize screen shots and photos on one screen.)

Below is a simple, FREE, mood board I created using Adobe Spark. First, I chose to create a picture collage. I typed “Scandinavian” in the bar that allows you to search for free images. From there, I just selected images that evoked the same feelings I want from my color story. 

Another Way to Go About It

If you are struggling to summarize how you want to feel from your color story (like I did using the keyword Scandinavian) that’s ok! You can also type in phrases and make your mood board that way. Check out the board below that I created using the following phrases:

    • Primary Colors
    • Modern Interior Design
    • Mid Century Modern
    • Young Couples
    • Cozy
    • Adventure



An added bonus to creating a mood board for your color story is that it can also help you cultivate the style of art and decor you want to incorporate in your design. Additionally, mood boards are great for working out resident persona characteristics. 

Not so keen on using Adobe Spark? Here are a few other free mood board websites worth checking out:

Step 3: Putting Your Colors Together

Now that you have your mood board all sorted out, it’s time to create a color scheme! Fortunately there are tons of free color scheme generating websites out there. A few that I recommend based on personal use are: 

Use Your Board to Find Your Favorite Palette

Because I am already logged in to Adobe through Spark, I am going to use Adobe Color CC in the same browser to create my color scheme. I personally like the free tools provided by Adobe Color CC because they are easy to use and I can save them to a library for future reference. Additionally, each inspiration you upload to Adobe Color CC generates five different themes to choose from. They are:

    • Colorful
    • Bright
    • Muted
    • Deep 
    • Dark

Below are some screen captures I took from Adobe Color CC using the Extract Theme and Extract Gradient tools provided. Note that I chose to use my second mood board from above, which was based off of emotions, concepts, and phrases. 


Playing Around With Gradients

In addition to the five schemes provided by Adobe, I also like to play around with the Extract Gradient tool. This helps me to develop different pallets for a number of uses. Our designers suggest that you always specify a neutral pallet for walls, fixtures, and finishes. Check out the neutral gradient I sourced from the mood board below, as well as a gradient for colorful decor, bedding, and art.


Neutral Vibes
Colors That Pop

Step 4: Desing Your Apartment

Once you have your colors locked down, you can begin designing and sourcing. The design boards below reflect the Adobe color scheme, bright. Once you are complete, you will have a full presentation that you can not only follow to ensure design cohesion – but that you can also deliver to your team before procurement and installation to ensure visions are aligned.

Bright Scheme:
Bedroom, Living, Office
Kitchen, Dining, Bath

Thanks For Reading!

I hope you found this post useful. If you are currently designing an apartment for any of your communities, or have future projects in your purview, we can help! Contact us today for more information. 

Amanda Beausoleil

Model55 purchases, designs and installs model apartments quickly and efficiently, reducing the cost and time of setting up your own model apartment.

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