Choosing Room Colours

How to pick the right colours for the rooms in your house

The colours used in a room can make or break its aesthetics value. A rightly chosen colour combination can enhance an old room. A wrong colour combination can make even the newest of room laden with the latest in furniture and room décor look unattractive if not outright unsightly.

Choosing the colour combination for a room need not be hard. When faced with a thousand and one colour swatches, the colour selection could be really overwhelming. But, aside from getting an interior decorator to choose the colours for you, you need to take time to decide on what colour combination you would like to have for a specific room.

Which room is to be painted? What room are you planning to paint or repaint? The selection of the colours should be in direct connection with the room's function. If you are about to choose the colours for the nursery, do you really think fuchsia pink or fire engine red is desirable? If you are considering of repainting your teenage son's bedroom, do you think your son would prefer your choice of pastel pink and mint green? In other words, you have to choose colours for a room based on its functions and, of course, based on the person who will use the room. A living room is a common area. However, painting its four walls in solid aquamarine (because it's your favourite colour) might be a bit too much. This is where the importance of dominant colours, secondary colours and accent colours will come into play.

  • Dominant colours make up more than half of the room. In most cases, the dominant colours will be on the walls.
  • Secondary colours should more or less make up 30% of the room. This means that the sofas and upholstery, window treatments like the colours of the framing or drapes, should be in secondary colour.
  • The accent colours will be the last 10% in the room. This colour is more intense and is usually in the form of throw pillows, décor, flower arrangement and more. It's for emphasis and overusing the accent colour would break the colour scheme.

In the case of the favourite aquamarine colour, a suggested scheme would be in beige or ecru for the dominant colour; off white or white for the secondary colour and different shades of aquamarine for the accent colour. A splash of yellow orange and orange can really bring the room together.

Coordinate Room Colours and other Materials

Really study the colours that you want to combine. There are sample strips that you can get for free at any paint store. Study the colours that you want. Lay them side by side together with some swatches of upholstery or wallpaper that you intend to apply in the room. There are different ways of coordinating and combining colours. Do the colours have to match? The colours do not necessarily have to match as the important thing is for the colours not to clash. How then can you mix and match colours for them not to clash?

There are four ways to mix and match the colours in the colour wheel.

  • Complementary Colours - These colours are opposite each other on the colour wheel. Examples are red and green, yellow-green and red-violet. Each opposite colour brings out the value of the complementing colour. Note that when you use complementary colours it is best not to make the intensity of both colours equal. For example if you should choose to use dark orange make sure you use a lighter shade of violet.
  • Monochromatic Colours - These are colours of the same hue but of different in tone or value or saturation. These schemes can be soothing and calming than a complementary scheme. An example is a paint card sampler with different shades of one colour.
  • Analogous Colours - These are the colours that are side by side in the colour wheel. This combination is more attractive. An example is the colours red-violet, violet and blue-violet. You can add a twist by taking the complementary colours of the three analogous colours- yellow-green, yellow and yellow-orange.
  • Triad Colours - To get the triad colours, get two complementing colours say red and green. The triad with red as the point of reference would be the two colours on the left and right side of green - yellow green and blue green.

Of course these guides are just "guides". You don't have to strictly adhere to any rule. As long as the colours do not clash and have some sense of cohesiveness, then your scheme could work out just fine.

If you are to decide on your colour scheme based on a fabric, choose the background colour of the fabric as the wall colour. Then for your flooring and large furniture, choose a mid-toned colour from the fabric solid or patterned. Look which colour in the fabric is the brightest and select that colour for accents - throw pillows, accent rugs, picture frames and more. If the three colours in your fabric are pink, olive green and white with the latter as the fabric colour then your walls should be white. Between pink and olive green, the latter is mid-toned which should do well for the colour of your floor tiles, carpeting or area rug. If the brightest colour is pink, then your accents should be different shades of pink.

You can use the fabric for some of the throw pillows or for curtains or as upholstery for one of the armchairs. Remember the basics in dividing the colours: 60% for the lightest colour, 30% for mid-toned colours and 10% for the brightest colour.