The definitive guide to decorating with colour

Unless you are starting from scratch with a new build, chances are that your home already possesses the foundations of a particular style. When picking furniture and décor it can be difficult to imagine how that particular design will work with the rest of your interior. Will it create balance and flow between different rooms?

While furniture and soft furnishing placement can make for stylish and functional spaces, colour is the foundation of a well-executed interior.

Scheme and mood

Colour preferences vary as much as personalities – some people prefer to be surrounded by bursts of boldness, while others long for the subtle serenity of neutrals. Is your Pinterest board overflowing with colour schemes that you would love to recreate in your own home?

You don’t need to be an interior designer to infuse your home with magazine-worthy splashes of colour – all you need is a little colour know-how.

In saying that, there is no point in filling your interior with particular colours simply because they reflect the latest trends; this is your home, so choose hues that you will enjoy being surrounded by – choices that will resonate with your personality. The colours of your interior are not only a reflection of your personality; just like fast food chains use reds and yellows to stimulate appetite, the colour palette of a particular room can really influence the way you think and feel.


Colour theory basics

Before you dive head first into the sea of interior colour – only to emerge with a newfound anxiety from all the plethora of options – it is worth getting a better understanding of colour.

The most straightforward method of cracking the colour conundrum is with a colour wheel. You may remember this rainbow circle from your classroom days, but the colour wheel is more than just a tool for teaching school children; it is a sure-fire way to choose colours that will work in harmony with one another and avoid an abstract colour disaster. Instead of confusing, scaring or boring you with various terms like ‘primary’, ‘secondary’, ‘cool’ or ‘warm’, we will delve straight into the most tried and tested colour schemes – so you can get straight to the styling part!


  • Monochromatic

This scheme may sound like a plain old black and white palette, but it isn’t. Rather, it is about choosing one colour and applying it consistently throughout your home. This is for those who want to test the waters with a particular colour without committing to an entire interior overhaul.

Monochromatic schemes are easy on the eyes – but they can also err on the side of boring. The key to bringing this scheme to life is to use a wide variety of shades; this way the colour choice will stay interesting and create a flow between spaces.


  • Harmonious

Like peanut butter is to jam, harmonious – otherwise known as analogous – colours pair perfectly because they sit side by side on the colour wheel. Sit a burgundy velvet cushion next to an earthy orange throw on the beige Sondra 3 seater sofa and ‘boom’! Instant harmony is born.

Using ‘best friend’ colours are bound to leave you with a crowd-pleasing interior – just be sure to leave some breathing room in the form of white walls or a cream sofa. Like adding too much water to a watercolour painting, you can flood a room with too much harmonious colour.


  • Complementary

They say opposites attract – and this couldn’t be truer for two colours sitting directly opposite one another on the colour wheel. The contrast between these two starkly different tones creates a tonne of excitement inside a home.

Pops of a complementary colour can also help cut through too much of a particular colour. You don’t have to use each colour in equal parts to create a complementary colour scheme though. If you prefer blue over orange, choose a scheme dominated by shades of blue and incorporate orange to warm up the room or draw attention to specific elements of the room.


Balance and flow

Experimenting with different colours and schemes can be a wonderful way to breathe life and personality into your home. However, too much colour can make your interior appear busy and overwhelming. Neutrals such as greys, browns and creams can help tone down the space and restore balance.

The key is to plan ahead and tackle one room at a time. This way you will be more likely to select colours that flow between different zones – as well as not get overwhelmed by an entire interior. Even though the living area might be separated from the hallway they will be viewed as a combination as people pass through each space. An easy way to unify the colour scheme of your home is to pick the same wall colour throughout and then pick complementary focal colours to produce a look that is both cohesive and consistent.


Every room is unique

Creating flow does not mean scattering identical purple cushions in every space – that would only produce too much similarity (and make you seem like a purple cushion addict).

The aim is to create flow between rooms while maintaining a point of difference between each one.

The function of the particular room you are redecorating will play a vital role in your colour choices. A bright and lively feel in the kitchen might call for warm and contrasting tones, while the master bedroom may command more cool and monochromatic hues. Don’t forget to consider the actual size of the space as well  – always pick colour schemes that will enhance a room’s assets. Darker palettes can make a small bathroom feel even more cramped, while lighter choices will create a sense of openness.



The way colour appears in a room is governed by more than just material, style or placement. Lighting – be it natural or from a globe – is one of the most important aspects of colour styling. However, with so many other elements to think about when decorating a space, it can be very easy to overlook.

Light changes constantly throughout the day – the rich hues of the Espen scoop back dining chair won’t look the same for the entire twenty-four hours. Early morning rays will pick up different shades to the direct glare of the afternoon sun, while a warm light from a hanging pendant can cast shadows and alter the appearance yet again. The amount and type of exposure the colours in your home receive determine how much impact they have on the rest of the interior. Always consider the number of windows there are, as well as the ceiling, wall, desk or floor lights and where they are positioned – this will ensure your colour choices look and feel as glamorous as you expect them to.


Testing and commitment

Injecting colour into your interior does not have to be an eternal commitment. Soft furnishings such as throws, cushions and rugs can be a great way to incorporate bursts of colour without entirely changing your interior. Pair the grey Pia ottoman with the playful Calicut large floor rug to easily create a colour statement; add wow factor and personality with an accent of cushions and funky wall art. Combining colours through small furniture and décor like this make for interesting colour schemes that can easily be updated at any time.

The good news is that, when it comes to colour choices, there really is no right or wrong – don’t be afraid to express yourself and experiment with different colour schemes until you find something that suits you.

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