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How to Create an Accessible Color Palette for Interior Design

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When you take on an interior design project for a commercial client, one of the first things to do is select a new color scheme, right? But here’s something you should know: If you don’t create an accessible color palette for your client, you may be doing them a disservice. Incorporating the right mix of shades into your client’s space doesn’t just make it more appealing; it also makes it more accessible to everyone.

And as a bonus, it positions you as an interior designer who goes above and beyond. 

Are you ready to try a better way of choosing colors for your clients?

In that case, you need to know what an accessible color palette is, how to create one, and how to apply it to a client’s space. But first, it’s worth getting a refresher on the role color plays in interior design…

Why the Right Color Scheme Is Crucial in Interior Design

As an interior designer, you know the colors you choose for a commercial space can have a major impact. The right shades can make all the difference in how people view, interact with, and feel in a client’s facility. That’s why it’s vital to select hues carefully. 

Your ultimate goal is to ensure your client’s space is safe, functional, and beautiful. And although it may not seem like it at first glance, color plays a big role. In fact, a well-chosen color scheme can do more than you may realize!

Here are a few examples:

By selecting a color scheme that fits a client’s existing brand identity, you can help them reinforce their brand. The more often people see the same color combination inside and outside of the building, the more likely they are to remember it. Even research shows that color can improve brand recognition by up to 80%

Chances are you’ve studied the psychology of color in commercial interior design. So, you already know the right color scheme can have a positive effect on how people react to a space. Choosing shades for a client’s building based on the good feelings they evoke can encourage happy staff members and repeat customers. 

Deciding on a group of colors that pair well together can also make a client’s space more aesthetically pleasing. Regardless of your client’s industry, appearances are important. This can lead to positive first impressions from visitors and new staff. 

An accessible color palette can make it easy for new visitors and those with visual impairments to navigate a building. The use of contrasting shades and transitional hues can help people move from one room to another. This is a great benefit to everyone within the building and can paint a client in a great light. 

The proper use of color in signage can also keep a client compliant with federal law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public facilities to have signs with high contrast between text and background. By meeting this requirement, you can prevent your client from getting hit with a fine or lawsuit. 

What Is an Accessible Color Palette? 

Basically, an accessible color palette is a group of identifiable shades. In this kind of palette, each color is easily visible on its own. But more importantly, there’s high contrast between color pairings to distinguish one from another. 

Although these palettes are frequently created for website accessibility purposes, they’re becoming more common in interior design. That’s because they can help meet the needs of those with visual impairments, including color blindness. 

5 Tips for Creating an Accessible Color Palette 

Creating an accessible color palette can be tricky, especially if you’re not well versed in accessible interior design. Fortunately, the following tips can help. By using them for your next project, you can develop a beautiful and practical color scheme for your client’s space. 

  1. Aim for Color Pairings with a High Level of Contrast

First things first, you should select color pairings that offer a high level of contrast. For example, a light color like tan paired with a dark color like black. Although it’s not necessary to apply contrasting colors in every case, it’s beneficial for room transitions, shape definitions, etc.

  1. Avoid Introducing Color Blind Combinations 

Approximately 4% of the population has some form of color blindness. So, it makes sense to avoid combinations that could be difficult for such individuals to distinguish. This includes red/green, gray/purple, and yellow/blue.

  1. Limit Your Palette to Roughly Three Main Colors 

It’s a good rule of thumb to stick to about three main colors for a color palette. This prevents people from getting overwhelmed. However, you can play around with different tones of the colors you choose. 

  1. Choose Bold Colors from Your Client’s Brand Identity

If a client has established their brand identity already, work with it. But make sure to choose a few of the boldest colors for their interior design project. That way, elements will stick out more. 

  1. Use Color Palette Generators for Guidance

If you’re struggling to come up with an accessible color palette, use an online generator. There are many available for website design use, and they can be helpful for commercial interior design too. Some examples include Accessible Palette and EightShapes Contrast Grid

How to Apply an Accessible Color Palette

A gray room sign with red and orange design elements and the name Cascade from Erie Custom Signs.

Once you’ve settled on an accessible color palette for a client, it’s time to apply it. Of course, that’s where your own creativity comes into play. But it’s also important to implement the right shades in the right places. 

The ADA Standards for Accessible Design don’t include color requirements for most aspects of physical spaces. However, some features (like signage) do need to follow certain rules. If you are getting new identification signs for a client’s space, you must make sure there’s a high level of contrast between text and background. Fortunately, there aren’t any color restrictions, so you can order signs that complement decor for a cohesive design

Additionally, you should consider the colors of flooring, walls, and furniture. Making these features stand out can help those with visual impairments navigate the building. And it can make the space more accessible for everyone. 


The way you use color in a client’s space can affect nearly everything—from how visitors perceive the organization to how easily new staff can navigate the building. So, if you want to deliver the best results possible, create an accessible color palette for every project. Use the tips provided for guidance moving forward. And if you need to order new signs for a client, check out our predesigned sign packages

Filed Under: Design and Customization

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