Do you live in fear of fire engine red? There are less dramatic ways to add color than with a paintbrush.

For years now, you've been too timid to buy those pumpkin-tinged dinner plates for your dining room table. As it turns out, you're not alone.

A recent study conducted by May Department Stores International found that most homeowners are tied to a whiteout.

Forty-five percent of bedrooms use white or beige for their bed linens; 60 percent choose white or beige for their everyday dishes; and 34 percent haven't changed color schemes in more than five years.

“Professional decorators often recommend a palette of at least three or four colors to make a room look pulled together, but that's where it becomes tricky for people to figure out how to decorate on their own,” says Carol Williams, president of May Department Stores International.

Bold colors, despite their aura of permanence and tackiness, can make a fashionable statement in any home as soon as people figure out which colors to use and how.

“We know that orange has been out there,” said Lee Eiseman at her color forecast seminar at Chicago's 2005 International Home and Housewares show. “We have seen it come over to other areas, as in the gates in Central Park.”

Eiseman says such bold displays help reinvent a color's many shades and also lengthen the dramatic tones trend.

Television has done its part as well.

“With the rising popularity of home decorating shows, we've noticed more interest from readers on how to decorate rooms themselves,” says Mark Mayfield, House Beautiful magazine's editor-in-chief.


House Beautiful recently unveiled a line of home products in May stores to solve the color conundrum with unexpected color pairings that help remove the guesswork. “We receive questions everyday on how to use color creatively,” says Mayfield.

Color is a cause of concern for decorators mainly because most doubt their abilities. The May study also found that 31 percent of respondents owned-up to having the worst taste of anyone they know, followed only by their next-door neighbors. Kitchens and master bedrooms proved to be the DIY designer's biggest obstacles.

Eiseman sees orange continuing to be strong, as well as the rise of yellow, organic greens and aquamarine the color many believe will be the “it” shade of 2006.

As you move toward a more colorful kingdom, try these tips from the designer's of the House Beautiful Home Collection:

Update a white bedroom by adding shades of blue and modern accent colors;

Mix plain white towels with reversible towels, in complementary colors such as bright pink and orange; and

Complement white dishes with colorful glass accents in a different shape like square bowls in bright green.