One of the most important parts of the initial design process is the choice of colour scheme. We look at different colour schemes with some handy tips on choosing the right colours and finishing touches.
Neutral colour schemes
The neutral colour scheme is by far the most popular. Neutral colours are the easiest colours to use for one obvious reason; they blend easily with most surroundings. Neutral colours can also be stylish and dramatic. For instance, black and white are neutral colours that create a wonderful palette for additional colours.
TIP: Take neutral paint swatches home and lay them on a white piece of paper in a shaded but outdoor location where there is lots of natural light. The white paper will reveal the true colours and help you to make the best decision for your space.
Bright Colour Schemes
The brighter the colour, the less you should use of it. For example, a bright red should only be used for smaller areas and preferably only as feature colour. Save bold colour schemes for rooms where you don't spend long stretches of time.
TIP: Colour usually seems more intense on walls than it does on a sample card.
Dark Colour Schemes
If you have plenty of natural light, a dark colour scheme may just give you the wow factor that you are looking for.
Remember that a north facing room receives more natural light than a south facing room. A west facing room receives strong, warm light in the evening, casting an orange tint. An east facing room receives strong bright, light in the morning, casting a white glow.
TIP: Bedrooms are often the best room in the house to use dark colours, so that an intimate feel is achieved, consider using luxurious reds or deep natural colours.
Which colours work well together?
• Get yourself a colour wheel. It is a very handy tool for colour selections, not only in decorating your home, but for any other colour decision.
• A monochromatic scheme uses different intensities of a single colour. It gives a very soothing, clean and elegant feel.
• If you have one single favourite colour, this might be the way to go, and use colours next to each other (like aqua and green) on the wheel for a slightly enriched feel.
• For more pizzazz, use a complementary scheme which incorporates two colours that are opposite each other on the wheel (like blue and orange). Complementary colours stimulate the eye.
• Another colour scheme to consider is a triadic scheme, which uses three colours equally spaced on the wheel. The most common of these is yellow/red/blue, the primaries. You can change the intensity to suit your space or personal preference.
If you have a neutral palette try adding interest in the way of accent colours or textured accents.
An accent colour should be a darker, brighter or stronger colour than the basic colour you have chosen.
TIP: the brighter the accent colour, the more careful you should be about placement and quantity of the colour.
• An effective way to narrow down all the choices out there is to find an item of inspiration. You may start by finding a curtain, bed cover or upholstery fabric that you like and the colours in the fabric will lead you into a scheme.
• Less is more! The most common error in decoration is over doing it! Keep it simple and choose strong, interesting objects to decorate your home. Think about things like the balance of the room and the object s in it, how your eye travels around the room and what pulls your attention in the space.
• There should be at least one element of surprise, something unusual or unexpected to create a sense of surprise or unpredictability…perhaps a certain piece of art, a sculpture or collection.