Moving into a new home is a thrilling moment, but it can also seem like a daunting task. With its bare floors and blank white walls, the house — particularly if it’s a new build — may not really seem as though it’s yours yet. The best way to overcome this is to add some of your own personality to the decoration. Good use of colour is an important part of this process. The right colour scheme can make a living room seem bright and cheerful, a kitchen warm and welcoming or a bedroom pleasant and relaxing.
Understanding your choices
The first step in choosing a colour scheme is to decide on the goals you want to achieve. Colours are deeply linked to human moods and perceptions. For instance, reds and oranges are great for kitchens because their association with fire makes them seem warm. By contrast, blues and other “cool” colours have a soothing effect. Each room can have its own colours, but be careful not to choose too many clashing hues — a house with one room in bright red, the next in blue and the next in pink may be memorable, but not in a good way.
Adding colour to a room doesn’t just mean painting. A room’s colour palette includes not only paint or wallpaper but also home furnishings and decoration. This isn’t to say that everything in a room should be the same colour; quite the opposite. A useful rule of thumb is that about 60% of the room should be the main colour, while 30% should be a secondary colour and 10% an accent colour.
Think past the main colour
Secondary colours can either be complementary colours, such as gold in a blue room or green in a red room, or harmonious colours, such as orange in a space dominated by red or blue in a purple space. In general, a colour scheme with harmonious colours will be subtler than one using complementary colours. The accent colour should always be a complementary colour, usually quite bright. For instance, a colour scheme of pale yellows might have a few items — a vase or some cushions — in bright blue, which will really stand out against the yellow background.
Accent colours remind us that we don’t have to completely redesign a home’s colour scheme to put our own stamp on it. Simply adding a few items in a complementary colour can change the feel of a room completely. If you want to put in a little more effort but still not go to the trouble of repainting an entire room, choosing a single wall — or even an area of a wall, like a chimney — and painting it in the secondary colour can change the whole appearance of a room.
A house’s colour scheme is one of the most important building blocks of its distinct character, and the one over which we have the most control. Making a few simple changes to yours can help you express your own personality through your home.