Interior Design & Colour

Colour can be used to create a space that has a distinctive look, suggest a mood or embrace a particular style. When you walk into any space, the way your eye translates colour and colour combinations can affect how you interpret style, mood and comfort level. There is a thoughtful and precise effort made through colour choices to create the desired effect. Interior designers use colour theory as a foundation to achieve their design goals.

Colour Theory

Colour theory is the science behind how we interpret the colours we see in the world, and how we respond to specific colour combinations and proportions. I present to you…

The Colour Wheel

The colour wheel is a sort of road map for understanding colour combinations and how our brain processes these combinations. It is familiar territory for me as it also applies to artists. I learnt this in my art classes at school a long time ago, refreshed again when I attended to my art classes and I apply it on a daily basis for my interior design projects and artwork. It is the make-up for colour schemes and room designs. I will try an explain the theory as simple as possible.

Primary colours are the three colours that cannot be created by mixing two other colours together. They are the components of all the other colours – RED, YELLOW and BLUE.

Secondary colours are the ones that can be created by mixing two primary colours. These are orange, green and purple.  

Tertiary colours are often explained in two different ways. Some say they are created by mixing one secondary colour with one primary colour and others say that a tertiary colour is two primary colours mixed at a 2:1 ratio. Tertiary colours are yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, and yellow-green.  

Complementary colours are the two colours across from one another on the colour wheel, like red and green, blue and orange or purple and yellow. When mixed together, they will cancel each other out, creating a muddy brown or black hue.

Monochromatic colours A monochromatic colour scheme is created when you use a single colour and add white, black or grey to its various hues. This brings up the point of tints, shades and tones…  

A tint is where white is added to a particular colour, and new colours are created by increasing the percentage of white to that colour.  

A shade is a similar process, but adding black rather than white, the colour becomes darker with the percentage of black that is added.  

A tone is where grey (white+black) is added to a colour. An entire colour palette can be created through the full saturation of a colour alongside with various tints, shades and tones.  

Colour “Temperature” Warm colours: reds, oranges and yellows. They are the more vibrant and seen to bring a sense of liveliness and intimacy to a space. Cool colours: blues, purples and most greens. They can be used to calm down a room and bring a relaxed feel.  When it comes to colour scheme, complementary is the simplest. One colour acts as the dominant shade and the other as an accent. Red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple. This colour combination is of high contrast which means that it is best used in small doses and when you want to draw attention to a particular design element. If you choose a complementary colour scheme, you really need to embrace neutrals.

Warm colour schemes

Cool colour schemes

Light colours are airy and, as a general rule, they make rooms feel larger and brighter.

Dark colours are sophisticated and warm; they make rooms feel intimate. Colours should either coordinate or contrast. When they coordinate they make the space harmonious and relaxing; when they contrast – interesting and dynamic.


I hope that my blog inspired you, gave you an understanding of colour and guidance to start your own colour scheme for your next project. All you need is red, blue, yellow, white and black acrylic paint, and you can start exploring the magical world of colour mixing. I use it as guidance, not as a ‘rule’ because after all rules are there to be broken and most times when we break the rules we can create a new style, a new trend.

Choosing a new paint colour for your living space is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to update a room, creating a new individual style to perhaps a tired-looking or uninspiring space.

Thank you for reading and on my next blog, I will be writing on how to decorate with one of the ‘hottest’ colour in town.

Style inspiration through my eyes…

The Visual Aficionado – Sol Aires Designs

  • Some photos were sourced from Google, Instagram and Pinterest.

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