Interior Design Course Week 3: Choosing A Colour Palette

Interior design colour palette

Welcome back to my 6-week Interior Design Course! In the countdown to the Easter Holidays (which provide a great opportunity to do a spot of decorating, whilst the kids are off school), I’m going to teach you the basics of interior design, to help you create a stylish, thought-out, functional scheme out of your next decorating project. In week one, we looked at putting together a design brief, to help you assess what your finished room needs to achieve. In week two, we identified your own personal style by creating a mood board / Pinterest board. Now, in week three, we’re going to be choosing a colour palette!

Colour is extremely important, when it comes to planning out a decorating scheme. Colour completely effects the mood of a room, so you need to make sure you get the colours right for the project you’re working on! Also, unless you’re creating a really out-there, clashing, rebellious look, you sort of want to make sure the colours you choose work well together. So let’s look into the art of choosing the perfect colour palette…

Week Three: Choosing A Colour Palette

The most important thing, when it comes to choosing the colour scheme of your pending project, is to understand a little about colour. What mood each colour evokes, and how to know if colours will work well together.

The colour wheel: Back to basics  


You may have seen the colour wheel back in school. It’s simply an arrangement of colours, put into logical order. You may have heard of primary, secondary and tertiary colours, too.

There are three primary colours – YELLOW, RED and BLUE. Out of these, after endless bouts of mixing, you can eventually make any other colour in existence.

Mixing primary colours together will land you with secondary colours:




Mix primary colours with their neighbouring secondary colours, and you’ll end up with tertiary colours:



BLUE + GREEN = TEAL, etc. etc.

Where’s white, black and grey, you ask? These are achromatic – they aren’t technically colours, so they aren’t displayed on the colour wheel. However, we can use white, black and grey to modify our primary, secondary and tertiary colours. We’ll come to that later.

Complementary colours

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.

Orange and blue lounge

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.

Magia mosaic tiles

Contrasts and Accent Colours

If you’re unsure what ‘contrast’ means, here’s a simple definition: ‘to differ strikingly’. When talking about contrasting colours, several types of contrast come into play. But to keep it simple, we’ll focus on three: light/dark, plain/bright and cold/warm. Introducing a contrasting colour into your scheme can help bring balance to a decor scheme. For example, an all-black room might look too dark; so introducing white ‘accent’ colours will help to add some light into the room. An all-white room might look incredibly plain – so a ‘pop’ of bright colour would massively help to add interest. An all-red room might look too warm; so adding some blues or whites into the mix will help to cool things down – creating balance.

For example, below, a white backdrop has been broken up with the introduction of some eye-catching red wall tiles (Eden Tiles)…

Floral eden tiles

Colour Pyschology

As mentioned earlier, different colours can effect our moods in different ways; environmental colour has been proven to affect human health and behaviour.

Reds, oranges and yellows tend to excite and stimulate. In experiments, these colours have been shown to increase pulse, respiration rates and blood pressure, with red being the most effective. They are also warming colours, and project energy, activity, secrecy and intimacy. Therefore, these colours and qualities fit well in rooms where you’ll entertain and welcome guests – such as the kitchen, or the living room.

Blues, greens and violets promote feelings of peace and relaxation. This becomes more true, the paler the shades used. Contrary to reds, oranges and yellows, these colours actually slow the heartbeat and relax muscles throughout the body. They help simulate and meditation and healing. Therefore, use them in rooms that are dedicated to harmony, relaxation and rest – such as the bathroom or bedroom.

Here are the symbolisms associated with different colours:

Red – exciting, bold, passionate. Will add warmth into a colour scheme.

Yellow – radiant, joyful, cheerful, optimistic. Effective in dark hallways; can provide a warm welcome.

Green – fresh, tranquil, relaxing. Ideal for injecting a natural look into any room throughout the home.

Orange – warm, lively, sociable, energetic. A good choice for rooms lacking in light.

Gold - The colour gold is the colour of success, achievement and triumph.

Silver - The colour silver has a feminine energy – it is fluid, emotional, sensitive and mysterious.

Soft pink – soothing, calming. Will add a relaxing quality to a room.

Purple – joy, creativity and power. Best for bedrooms.

Blue – sea, sky, truth, faith, loyalty. Good for creating a refreshing coastal look.

Black – statement, dark. Blacks absorb a lot of light, so important to incorporate reflective surfaces and bright accents. Gold, lime and orange work well with a black backing.

Grey – quiet, calm, understated. Goes well next to any other colour. Perfect for grounding a room full of colourful accents.

White – light, fresh, hope, holiness. Perfect for adding a sense of spaciousness to a room.

Calming blue decor scheme

This Week’s Task: Identifying the Colours within Your Style

Look back to the style board that you chose in Week Two. From what you’ve learnt this week about colour, what do the colours in your chosen scheme tell you?


For example, in my chosen style board (above), which focuses on a tropical botanical scheme, the green shades convey a fresh, tranquil and relaxed setting.

Also, I found that gold was a reoccurring colour in my tropical botanical scheme, which portrays success, achievement and triumph.

Purple is present throughout my style boards. It represents joy, creativity and power.

White seems to form the backdrop to the examples in my chosen style. White represents light, hope and space.

Another thing I’ve noticed whilst looking through my style board is the consistent presence of wood textures. Brown is a very natural colour, which ties in perfectly with the tropical scheme. This is something I will take into consideration when it comes to sourcing products in Part Five.


Bring the colours you’ve identified in your chosen style with you to Part 4 of the Interior Design Course, where we will be learning about the importance of using textures in your scheme.






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