We know that choosing a colour scheme for your home can be a fairly daunting task. That’s why we’ve put together than fantastic guide – to help you choose which colours to fuse together when it comes to tackling your next decorating project.
Back to basics: Primary, secondary and tertiary colours
Let’s go back to basics. Here’s a little fact you will have learnt in primary school (but may have forgotten). There are three primary colours – and from these three primary colours, all other colours (the complete spectrum) are produced. These colours are red, blue and yellow.
If you were to mix these colours together, you would produce secondary colours. For example, if you mix yellow with red, you orange. If you mix yellow with blue, you get green. If you mix blue with red, you get purple. And the quantities of the mixing decide the shade of secondary colour you produce.
So what, then, is a tertiary colour? A tertiary colour is the colour produced when you mix a primary colour with one of its neighbouring secondary colours.
The colour wheel
When you arrange the primary colours as segments of a circle, with the secondary colours sitting in between them, and the tertiary colours in between the secondary ones, you are given a colour wheel, which is useful when it comes to choosing colour schemes. Firstly, it allows you to see all the colours in one place – so you can decide which one catches your eye. Secondly, it allows you to pick out complementary colours (see below). Thirdly, it clearly separates warm shades from cool shades.
If you want to use more than one colour in your decorating project, and you want a nice, harmonious blend where the two colours work well together, you’ll want to choose a pair of complementary colours. To find a particular colour’s complementary colour, just look opposite it on the wheel. For example, purple’s complementary colour is yellow. Orange’s complementary colour is blue.
Warm and cool shades
You can divide the wheel into two halves – warm and cool. This is perfect when it comes to deciding what sort of scheme you want to go for in your home. Do you want to create a rich, warm, cosy atmosphere, to help capture the warmth of summertime all year round? Or do you want to create a cool, mellow, refreshing ambience you can relax and unwind in after a hard day at work?
From yellow, through to orange, red and burgundy – that’s the warm half of the colour wheel. They’re the colours we most associate with fire and sunshine.
From green, through to turquoise, blue and purple – that’s the cool half of the colour wheel. Those are the colours we associate with vegetation, water, sky, and twilight.
Adding tone for subtlety in your colour scheme
The pure colours above are great for adding bold blocks of character into your interiors. But using nothing but pure colours can become a little garish and cloying. In most decorating situations, as any interior stylist will tell you, a more subtle approach is called for. You can tone down colours using the following techniques.
Neutrals, in their purest forms, are black and white. Both are completely void of any colour. Should you mix them together, you’ll get a range of greys. Neutrals don’t clash with any colour; that’s why they’re so often used by interior designers. You’ll often see greys paired with all manner of manner – oranges, reds, greens. However, when left in their simplest forms, (a spectrum of grey tones), neutrals are fairly bland. Therefore, a splash of colour is often added – to liven them up a little – giving it a cool or warm tinge. It will harmonize that colour – making it less bold and in-your-face – taking away some of the edge and impact, and allowing you to use more of the colour in your room, without it become too much.
For example, in the image below, a bold blue has been mixed with grey to produce a more earthy, toned-down colour.
You can create the pastel version of any colour by mixing it with white. When using pastels, it’s difficult to create anything other than a harmonious scheme, with the majority of pastel colours going well together. Pastels offer a more pale, subdued version of the original colour.
For example, say you wanted to tile your room with bright red mosaics. That’s all well and good, for smaller areas, but it may become a little heavy on the eye, if you’re covering vast areas. The solution? Go for a more pastel shade of red mosaic. It will be in keeping with the same reddish scheme you were after, but it won’t over-power the room. For example, see the image below. Whereas the Pivione Tile on the left is fairly bright, the Fuschia Tile on the left is the pastel, toned-down version of it.
You can produce various shades of a colour by mixing it with black. Every time you add black in, a darker shade is produced. In a colour scheme, it’s usually good practice to use various shades of the same colour. For example, if you have a light green rug, it would look good to have a medium green plant pot and dark green cushions; all different shades of the same colour.
We hope this guide has given you some clarity, when it comes to choosing the colour scheme for your home. You have to ask yourself – do you want complementary colours, or colours that clash? Do you want a warm scheme, or a cool scheme? Do you want a bold colour, or a toned-down version? Are you going to mix different shades of the same colour, through use of accessories? Are you going to combine your main colour with pops of grey, as grey goes so well with any colour? For pre-set colour palettes, visit our collection of Dream Colour Schemes.