A Santa Fe, N.M., home designed by Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey of SCW Interiors. (Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey)

Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey is an expert on family-friendly design, kitchens and everything that goes into making a comfortable home. Her work on a retreat on the Eastern Shore for an active Arlington family was recently profiled by staff writer Jura Koncius. Cavin-Winfrey joined Koncius in a recent online Q&A to discuss everything design and shared a helpful approach to choosing a color palette. Here’s an edited excerpt of her advice:

There are so many ways to approach color in your home. Because I love being outside, I find cues from the natural surroundings most often. In more urban areas, I like to incorporate colors from artwork. Sometimes I have clients who naturally gravitate to colors they enjoy wearing. I typically refer to the immediate surroundings of a home when possible. I recently installed a project in Santa Fe, N.M., where my cues were taken from the clay adobe, blooming Russian sage (purple) and amazing sunsets. When you walk into homes inspired by such great landscapes, you definitely feel as if they are part of the larger setting.

The most important thing in putting together your palette is consistency throughout. Make sure that you use colors that work well together, then thread them through the entire house in different increments to build cohesion.

Consider the times of the day that the spaces will be used and the feeling you want to convey in the space. If you only use your dining room in the evenings, light candles in the space when testing the colors and think about the mood you want to set. Alternatively, if you have a breakfast room with great morning light, keep in mind that this is the space where you begin your day and that maybe something with more energy would work best.

Lastly, keep the values of the colors the same. Whether you prefer pastels, bold brights or monochromatic neutrals, the values should be consistent. In a nutshell, color can elevate the human spirit, so it is one of the most important elements in designing a home.