Design Lesson

Design lesson: Colour confidence

Design lesson: Colour confidence Author: Style At Home

Design Lesson

Design lesson: Colour confidence

For many of us, making a commitment to colour can seem like an insurmountable task. We long to be adventurous and free spirited, but something gets in the way. Maybe it's a fear of judgment or a painful memory of the last colour gone wrong. Maybe it's the misconception that a colourful decor has to be bold and bright. Well, it's time to build up your confidence. Regardless of whether your taste is for dramatic colour-drenched rooms or a subtle, fresh palette of natural shades, the following tips will help you select the best hues for your home.

DO determine the overall mood you'd like to create before choosing paint colours for a room. To create a bold look, choose high-energy colours like brick, terra-cotta, antique gold or Pompeian red. For a seductive scheme, pick smoky charcoal, mauve or pewter. To play up a room's prettiness, select a palette of blush pink, oyster and icy blue.

DO establish a colour scheme for the whole house (or at least the main floor) at the outset. For example, midtone khaki walls in a living room look fetching when viewed from a putty-colour entranceway. A consistent trim colour throughout further emphasizes the connection between rooms.

DO reinforce a noteworthy design element, such as a fireplace or bay window, by painting it the lightest colour in a room. Light-colour objects appear more prominent than their darker counterparts.

DON'T forget that a colourful decor doesn't have to be bold and bright – it can be subtle, too. For example, you can enhance sunlight in a room with warm, pale colours like ivory, bisque, mushroom and shell pink.

DON'T ignore nature's palette, which encompasses many colours. Be inspired by the multiplicity of tones and textures that gives natural hues their depth.

Kimberley's guide to contrast
Contrasting colours don't have to be extreme to work favourably in interiors. Here are some ways to use colour to solve design problems and enhance the look and feel of a room.

Emphasize impressive mouldings by painting walls a contrasting colour. In most cases, architectural elements such as crown moulding, baseboards and ceiling medallions look best in classic neutrals like bisque, parchment and soft white.

Modify a room's scale with contrasting colours. Shorten a too-tall ceiling by painting or papering it in a contrasting colour; create the illusion of a wider hallway by painting an end wall a deep contrasting shade; distract from a room's less-than-ideal proportions by painting the walls, ceiling and trim a single shade, eliminating contrast altogether.

Highlight ceilings that are worthy of attention with a signature colour. A room with ample or pleasing proportions is well suited to an enhanced ceiling.

Visually expand tight quarters by using low-contrast colours. A monochromatic scheme that includes shades similar in tonal value can have a powerful effect.

Frame an impressive view by eliminating contrast between the wall colour and the draperies. When those elements are the same colour, the eye is drawn past the window to the view beyond.

Visually expand tight quarters by using low-contrast colours. A monochromatic scheme that includes shades similiar in tonal value can have a powerful effect.

Kimberley Seldon is STYLE AT HOME's decorating editor. For more great decor and design ideas, visit

For more paint colour tips, check out our ultimate guide to painting.


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Design Lesson

Design lesson: Colour confidence