The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Color Scheme

Want to know the quickest way to ruin your interior design plans?

Choose the wrong color.

The color scheme that you choose can make or break the room. It is one of the most important aspects and can change the mood, style, and atmosphere in a room all on its own.

With hundreds of different hues and shades available, it has never been easier to get it wrong. But it also means that if you take the time to understand color, the limitless options mean you can create the perfect room that will bring you joy for years to come.

Check Color Connotations

Each color has a myriad of meanings and connotations attached to it which vary from person to person. Many of these, however, are cultural and social associations that we collect from those around us over the years.

Take weddings and funerals as an example. Many Europeans will wear black to a funeral. Whereas Egyptians will tend to wear yellow, Koreans blue and in Thailand they favor purple.

Western weddings tend to see the bride wearing white as it is thought to symbolize purity whereas Hindu brides favor colors from a red palette as it is thought to be an auspicious color. Interestingly, in many Western countries red is often associated with sexual passion and therefore connotes a very different message for a bride!

Color absorbs meanings from cultures and traditions.

It is therefore wise to take the time to think about the cultural connotations of colors for you and your visitors.

I’m sure nothing would please Aunt Marge more than being able to visit you, stick her nose in the air and proclaim loudly that it’s like walking into a brothel or funeral parlor!

Evoke your Memories

Of course, connotations are not always cultural. Sometimes they are evocative of memories and events.

If you have spent your childhood happily playing on the beach, learning to surf the waves and gazing at the Aztec blue sea and sky during your summer holidays, then a blue color scheme can rekindle memories and feelings of those times.

Or perhaps you grew up surrounded by beautiful rolling countryside and spent many happy days strolling through the fields and climbing trees. Being surrounded by earthy tones and greens will bring these times flooding back to you.

So before you start narrowing down your color palette, take some time to think about what different colors mean to you and the feelings they evoke. Identify the ones that match with the atmosphere you want to create with your interior design.

Below you can find some common associations of colors, to help you get started:

Red – passion, danger, love, excitement, energy, war

Black – death, evil, anger, unhappiness

White – purity, innocence, piety, birth, winter

Green – nature, environmentally friendly, health, vitality

Blue – peace, calm, sea, technology, cold

Yellow – joy, happiness, sunshine, summer, illness

Work with the Wheel

No color scheme should be decided without consulting the color wheel.

The classic wheel consists of twelve different hues. There are the primary colors (red, yellow and blue), the secondary colors that are created by mixing two of the primary colors (green, orange and purple) and finally the tertiary colors that are a combination of primary and secondary colors making hues such as violet and turquoise.

Once you have these 12 colors around the outside of the wheel, different tones and shades are created by adding black or white to create the full wheel.

But how on earth does this help you with choosing a color scheme for a room? Well, working with the color wheel means you can ensure you select colors that complement each other as well as allowing you to avoid awkward color clashes.

There are a number of different ways in which you can use the wheel.

Complementary Colors

If you want to create contrasting highlights in a room, you can use what is known as complementary colors. These colors are opposite each other on the wheel and can help you create a balance between warm and cold hues in your interior design. Including a complementary color can also provide a striking effect.

For example, in an interior with cool, natural yellow-greens, adding a shocking pink can add a touch of warmth and draw the eye to specific details within the room. A room that is mostly warm oranges could be complemented by a splash of cool blue perhaps in the soft furnishings.

Color Harmony

However, looking at the opposite color on the wheel is not the only way you can use it to help you choose your color scheme.

Another approach is to use harmonious hues. These are found next to your main color on the wheel. Think about the colors sitting next to each other as being good friends who will work great together within your interior design!

So, if your main color is red, you can confidently include orange-reds or violet-reds and create a vibrant, warm space that feels full of passion and energy.

Alternatively, you might have chosen blue as your main color as you love the ocean.  Using blue-greens such as aquamarine will help to evoke the beautiful beaches and shallow waters whereas violet blues will offer more depth and memories of deep blue skies.

Monochrome Schemes

I know what you’re thinking…how can a color wheel that doesn’t have black or white included on it, possibly help with a monochrome color scheme!

The truth is, the root “mono” comes from the Greek term “monos” meaning single or alone. Therefore, the word monochrome actually refers to the use of one color.

This is the easiest color scheme to create. Using the color wheel can help you to identify other shades and tones that you can incorporate into your single color scheme. However, because you are focusing on just one hue it can end up being a little boring if you don’t add interest to your interior design in some other way.

Sticking with one color though does makes it much easier to mix patterns within the room such as those on wallpaper and cushions as you can simply match the hue. Furthermore, some variety in pattern, as well as textures, can assist in adding more interest.

From an Item you Love

Now, this is all well and good if you are starting entirely afresh. However, we all recognize that we are often emotional buyers, throwing all practicalities aside when we see that one “must have” item that has us falling in love.

This can be anything from a bespoke piece of furniture, a designer roll of wallpaper or a simple soft furnishing.

If you’ve found yourself in this position, do not worry. The wheel can come to your rescue.

Simply decide on what the main color of your object of love is, find its place on the color wheel and use the three rules above to create the perfect color scheme around your “must have” item.

The three ways of using the color give you plenty of variety so you are bound to come up with a combination that lights you up.

Play with Space

For some people, the most important aspect of their interior design is the impact it has on the illusion of space. Your use of shades and tones has a big role to play in this.

If you have a small space and want to give it a spacious feel, use light shades as these will appear further away. Or, if you want to make a room feel cozier, darker colors appear closer so will bring the room in.

This technique also works if you have a long, rectangular room and want to make it feel squarer. Simply use a darker color on the shorter walls and a lighter shade on the long walls and it will change the feel of the dynamics of the room.

Have Fun

Most important of all is that you have fun when deciding on your color scheme and that you love what you create. If you are worried you’re going to get it wrong, create mood boards to try out different combinations and play with your ideas before making any final decisions.

Alternatively, you can get the help of a professional who has that artistic eye and knows exactly how to perfectly create the effect you seek. If you would like some help, you can contact me here and I will be able to guide you through the entire process.

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