Interior designing can be a complicated process, especially when it comes to choosing the right colour scheme. It’s easy to become frustrated, confused, or just plain stuck! How do interior design experts know how to choose the perfect palette to create the perfect room? The colours you choose need to be put together in just the right way to create perfect harmony, but there are so many colours to choose from.
Fortunately, the experts have already done the hard work for us, because now there are colour rules we can use to ensure a perfect balanced look, every single time. In this post we’ll go through these colour rules to ensure you never have to feel frustrated when trying to style your home.
Rule No. 1: The 60-30-10 Rule
The 60-30-10 rule is the classic décor rule for creating the perfect colour palette for any space; and it’s become an interior designer’s best friend. This rule simply states that 60% of the space should be your dominant colour, 30% should be your secondary texture or colour, and the final 10% should be your accent, or boldest, colour. This rule applies regardless of your personal aesthetic or how you want the room to look – your colour palette will always be balanced.
A Simple ‘How To”
To start with, select the shade you want for your dominate colour. This will take up about 60% of your space. This will typically be a subdued or neutral shade that can cover a large area without overwhelming the space. This is the ‘background’ colour of your room: when looking at the space you’ll say it’s the ‘white’ room, or whatever colour you chose.
The second step is to choose your secondary colour, which will typically be a bit bolder than the first. This colour will support the main colour; however it will be different enough to create interest in the room. This will take up around 30% of your space, which is half as much as your main colour.
The final step is to select your accent colour which will make up the remaining 10% of your space. This will be the boldest shade in your colour palette, however it can also be the most subtle colour, depending on the look you’re going for. The 10% shade can either be the colour that keeps the room neutral or the colour that adds character to the room.
An Example of the 60-30-10 Rule
60%: Walls, rugs, large ‘foundation’ pieces, accent pieces, sofa.
30%: Painted furniture, curtains, smaller ‘foundation’ pieces
10%: Decorative accessories, patterned fabrics, throw pillows, artwork.
Rule No. 2: Warm Colours vs Cool Colours
When we refer to ‘warm vs cool’ colours we’re referring to where shades of colour fall on the colour wheel. Note that the energy of a space is affected by choosing warm or cool colours.
What are warm colours? We traditionally think of red, orange, and yellow as warm colours; also included in the mix are neutral shades like tan and brown. Warm colours are best used in entertaining areas, like a dining groom or kitchen, because they produce a welcoming yet upbeat feel to a room.
What are cool colours? Blue, green, purple, and gray, are considered to be cool colours. Because cool colours are more subdued, they typically work best in office spaces and bedrooms, where we need a calming energy.
Rule No. 3: Complementary Colour Schemes
The complementary colour scheme is perhaps one of the simplest rules used by interior designers, and the reason is that it only involves two shades. Specifically, it involves two shades that sit directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. The result is that you use combinations of red and green, yellow and purple, and blue and orange.
Knowing which colours complement one another helps you make great colour decisions. For example, complementary colours can be blended together for shadows; they can be mixed to create effective neutral shades, and they can make each other appear brighter.
You may notice that a pair of complementary colours is made up of one warm colour and one cool colour. Yellows, reds and orange are the warm colours while blues, green, and purples are the cool colours.
Rule No. 4: The Analogous Colour Scheme
An analogous colour scheme may work better for you if you’re finding the colour wheel difficult to navigate.
Analogous colours means that the grouping has similarities – that the colour scheme types are closely related.
Analogous colours are the colours next to each other on the colour wheel. To create an analogous colour scheme you simply choose any colour on the wheel and take note of its direct neighbours – to either the right or left. And that’s it! One suggestion for choosing an analogous colour scheme is to start with a primary colour, like blue, yellow, or red, then use the secondary and tertiary colours as accents.
Some examples of analogous colour schemes are –
- Blue, blue-violet, and violet
- Red, red-orange, and orange
- Violet, red-violet, and red
- Yellow, yellow-green, and green.
If you’re not interested in using vibrant hues, consider an analogous color scheme with neutral shades. This is known as a monochromatic color scheme, which can work very well because the colours create an elegant, streamlined design.
The colours you choose to work with should come from the same colour family to ensure the look you create is cohesive. Your design will be defined by the base shade you choose, and the colour scheme will be rounded out by selecting one colour lighter than the base-shade and one that’s darker. (A great way to narrow down your colour options and get the inspiration you need is to look at pamphlets of paint colour samples).