Written by Hugh Metcalf

How to create a decorating colour scheme

Working out how to bring colour to your home can be daunting, but our quick guide will help you to pull together a cohesive palette.

neutral scheme moodboard from furniture village - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Furniture Village 

Colour can be a challenging thing to add to your space – maybe there’s a colour that you’d love to include in your home, but aren’t sure how; or you’ve tried to recreate a scheme you loved, but it’s not quite worked out. It’s no wonder so many people choose to play it safe with a neutral home.

However, once you get to know the basics of building a colour scheme, you can start to experiment and really commit to your own personal style.

Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Start with your space

good homes magazine living room in jewel tone colours - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Good Homes 

When it comes to first choosing your colours, think about what you want to use the space for. Is it a relaxing space, or an energising one? Colours can have a strong effect on our mood, so having a quick read of our guide to colour psychology is no bad idea before you start.

Also consider which way your room faces. North-facing rooms get cold light, so work better with warmer hues to stop them feeling stark, while south-facing rooms get plenty of natural light, making them easier to work with a range of colours in.

Choose 3-5 colours

bedroom in warm berry and orange tones from dulux - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: deVOL 

Sticking to 1 or 2 colours can sometimes cause your scheme to fall flat, so unless you’re a confident decorator, opting for at least 3 is a good idea. When you do eventually decide on your colour palette, the next task is to install it into your space in good proportions. Decide which of your colours is going to be dominant, and which is going to be a slight accent. The magic ratio is 60:30:10 split across 3 colours, but if you’re using more, try to pair near colours to make up these percentages between them.

Use colour theory

Not sure where to start pair colours? Using a colour wheel and so simple colour theory will mean you have an instantly cohesive scheme. Here’s the room schemes you could create, starting with blue as a base colour as an example.


blue tonal living room colour scheme good homes magazine - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Good Homes 

Building a palette using one colour can be effective if using different shades. This scheme layers blues to create a striking look, but for a less intense hit of a single hue, you could always use a white base in a monochromatic room.


living room with pooky light and tonal green/blue scheme

Image: Pooky 

Picking colours that sit next to each other on the colour wheel is another simple way to build a look. This scheme from Pooky marries blue, teal and emerald green for a sophisticated space that still has accent highlights, but that doesn’t rely on bold contrasts.


blue orange colour palette for living room good homes - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Good Homes 

Complementary colours are picked from opposite sides of the colour wheel, meaning they’re the boldest contrast to each other – yet, they still work together in harmony. Orange is the opposite of blue in this instance, making for a strong accent.

Pick from a pattern

little greene national trust wallpaper Pomegranate Bazaar in a kitchen scheme - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Little Greene National Trust wallpapers

If you’re not confident in creating your own cohesive colour palette, why not start your scheme with a patterned wallpaper of fabric. That way, you can pull a palette from the design to tie in with the print. This idea Little Greene, for example, pulls the olive green and red hue from the wallpaper for a scheme that feels really well put together.


Want us to take a look at your colour scheme plan? Let us know on social! Tweet us @goodhomesmag or post a comment on our Facebook page, or post a picture of your colour scheme or moodboard on Instagram using the hashtag #ThisGoodHome.



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