How to colour palette your home, post-iso
Written by Bea Taylor
At first, it seems fun and then it quickly becomes horrifically daunting. Here’s how to make choosing a colour palette for your home easy.
You’ll find advice online that says, “if you don’t like the colour after a few years, don’t worry, you can always paint over it.” Which is true, but anyone who’s actually painted a room themselves knows how much hassle it really is — and definitely wouldn’t opt in to do it again.
So how do you create a cohesive colour scheme that you won’t get sick of in two years’ time? Start with the fun bit — look at magazines or on Pinterest and identify colours and interior styles that you like. A moodboard is the perfect foundation to work off and a great point of reference to go back to when you’re feeling stuck.
Once you’ve got a good idea of what you want, see how you can apply it to your own home. Identify existing features such as flooring, furniture and art, and whether they have cool or warm undertones. Matching undertones is a key step in creating a cohesive colour palette.
Look at the light in your house, both artificial and natural. Light changes the perception of colour, so the same paint could have a completely different effect in different rooms. When you think you’ve chosen the right colour, paint a few large sheets of A3 paper and hang them up in different spots around the room. Check on these swatches at different times of the day to see how they look in different lights.
Let’s talk colours. White is arguably the most versatile paint colour and a great base for any home. But, despite its adaptive nature, choosing white is not as foolproof as it might seem; there are warm whites and cool whites.
Cool whites, in general, make a room feel larger. Cool colours tend to neturalise bright light, therefore work best in rooms where there is an abundance of natural light. They look great with dark grey flooring, charcoal carpet and other colours with cool undertones.
Warm whites, on the other hand, make a room feel smaller and cosier. They are perfect for rooms that don’t get a lot of sun. Warm whites have brown, yellow or red undertones and therefore pair beautifully with wooden floorboards that also have warm undertones.
One step away from white is the neutral colour group. Like whites, these are safe base colours that set up a space for other colours to be brought in through soft furnishings, art and furniture. But unlike white, neutrals can also inject a small amount of ambient colour into a room. Don’t think beige on beige on beige. Neutrals can be rich too — such as warm taupe or tan — and, because colour trends often follow wider cultural trends, we’ve seen an increase in what have been dubbed the ‘new neutrals’; powdery pink, muted citrus, minty-blue greens and soft earthy tones. These all have the ability to work as reliable background hues or as a standout feature.
Basic colour theory rules dictate two main categories under which colour palettes should be created; monochromatic/tonal and complementary.
A complementary colour scheme consists of colours that are exact opposites on the colour wheel, for example, yellow and blue. But here’s where this colour theory tends to put people off. Instead of thinking as yellow and blue in their primary forms (because who the hell wants that in their home?) the trick is to think how this theory can be applied as a general guide. So, instead, picture a warm beige wall paired with gentle grey-blue furniture or soft furnishings.
Restful and relaxing, a tonal or monochromatic colour scheme starts with one single-base hue. The other colours in this palette are varying tints and shades of the base colour. Although it’s used regularly with whites and beiges, tonal decorating shouldn’t be limited to just neutrals. Just remember, it’s all about the shade of colour you start with, so check that the other colours have the same undertone.
Once you’ve decided on your colour palette, buy your linens and furniture first — it’s much easier to match your paint colours to furniture and bedding than the other way around.