Top Tips for Choosing Interior Colours


A room without Colour is like a person without clothes. Colour is absolutely necessary to make a room appear presentable and finished, yet for a beginning decorator, it is one of the most feared additions in any space.

Choosing interior colours doesn’t have to be overwhelming or scary. In fact, choosing colours for your home can be downright fun. Consider these tips when you are choosing interior colours.

  • A great place for Colour inspiration is your closet. We are naturally drawn toward colours in clothing that enhance our colouring and personality, and these colours in your room will act the same way. After all, your home should reflect you!
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the number of Colour choices? Start with the golden rule of three. To begin with, choose three colours and build your palette around these, then repeat these colours around the room or space.
  • Use the ratio of 60:30:10, where 60-percent of the Colour in your space is the dominant or main Colour, 30-percent is a secondary Colour and 10-percent is an accent Colour. For example, the walls could be painted the dominant Colour, the upholstery could be in the secondary Colour and accessories such as vases or throw pillows will be in your accent (or 10-percent) Colour.
  • If your space starts to feel too matchy-matchy with only three colours, try using the same colours but in a different pattern, texture, sheen or shade – as in one or two shades darker or lighter than those in your existing palette.
  • If you are trying to add Colour to a room that is partially furnished, pull your dominant Colour from a piece of furniture or decor that is already there. That way, even as you add new pieces, everything will blend and flow together.
  • Mix a balance of warm and cool colours. For example, combine one rich warm Colour with two cool, light colours; or balance a bold, cool Colour, like cobalt blue, with a sunny yellow (warm) and soft lime green (warm).
  • For a sure match, choose colours that are on opposite sides of the Colour wheel, aka “complimentary colours.” (Hint: There’s a reason they are called this … it’s because they naturally flatter each other!)
  • Remember that soft, muted colours and simple patterns reduce visual weight and feel lighter in a space, thus they tend to work well in smaller rooms. Bold patterns and saturated colours will add visual weight and can help to ground larger rooms.
  • Don’t forget that white and black act as colours in a space. So do textures, patterns and wood tones. All of these “colours” count toward your Colour choices and should be considered when planning your decor.
  • Ground your space with the darker colours in your palette. Just like in nature, our rooms usually look best with the darkest colours lower in the space and lighter colours up high. Floors should be a little darker than walls to keep them from “floating.” Light walls and a dark ceiling can make a space feel like the sky is falling!
  • Go with your personality and style. For example, if you are introverted and feel overwhelmed in rooms with a lot of pattern and Colour, avoid a lot of bright colours and large prints. If your personality is as big as the moon, you may quickly get bored with a Colour palette full of neutrals.
  • Make yourself a swatch booklet and keep it with you whenever you go out. It is the rare person whose eye can retain a perfect Colour match longer than a few seconds. Don’t trust yourself; trust your swatches.

Decorator’s Tip

If you are more experienced with choosing colours or you naturally have a “good eye” for Colour, then by all means, feel free to break the rules. After all, Colour is about what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own home, not about what a decorator says should be done. Just remember that you want your guests to feel comfortable and happy, too, so maybe that black and neon yellow fabric should be used somewhere besides the dining room.

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