The Basics of Colour Schemes

Are you looking at your next project and wondering where to start with the design?

We believe that colour schemes should be your next major focus once you have your layouts pinned down. 

This blog will take you through the basics you’ll need so that you can get cracking on picking the right colour scheme for your project.

Colour can have a much bigger impact on our emotions and how a space feels to us than we might realise; that’s why it’s crucial to get the basics right. There is no need to stumble at the first hurdle.

Before We Drill Down Into Colour

Before we get into it, you need to make sure you have the following decisions made:

Who is the end user?

Will the property be sold, and who will buy it if so? A family? Or, if it will be rented out, what will your tenants be like? Students? Professionals? Couples?

Knowing who you want to attract to your property will help you decide what colour scheme you need.

What will each of the rooms be used for?

Which of the rooms will be bedrooms? Will there be a lounge space for relaxing? Which room will be for entertaining or socialising?

Knowing the answers to these questions is crucial as each part of our scheme will be best suited to different functions.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s crack on with getting to know the basics of colour schemes. First up, the colour wheel!

The Colour Wheel

We’ve all seen one of these before, right!? But have you ever considered how much impact the placement of this wheel can have on what colour does for us?

Understanding the colour wheel will help us decide on our colour schemes and the rest of our design.

A colour wheel has every colour we could possibly make on it. It has a “cool side” (purples, blues and greens) and a “warm side” (reds, oranges and yellows). We can use either side to our advantage.

Cool colours help to create a calm and relaxing space, great for bedrooms and snug areas. Whereas warm colours help to bring energy and stimulation to a room, making them suitable for social and dining spaces.

Each of the colours on the colour wheel in their purest form is called a “hue” (the outer ring). Different amounts of black, white, and grey can be added to form different shades, tints and tones of that hue which helps to create different lightness or darkness of the same colour.

We will often ignore the hue of a colour and choose a toned-down version of that colour.

For example, we might add orange into our colour scheme in the form of a tan chair or some red/orange brickwork. Of course, there are subtle ways to add that bright hue into our scheme, but all of these colours still need to be considered.

We will choose our colour scheme and then decide on the actual colour palette by selecting a shade, tone or tint of the colour we would like to use more specifically.

Our basic colour schemes

I always find it helps to have some theory to follow when creating my design schemes, so let’s run through some basic colour schemes you can use to build the rest of your design scheme.


Our first colour scheme uses just one colour from our wheel in different forms mixed with blacks, white, grey and neutrals. Not just black and white as lots of people know it.

Now just because we are only choosing one colour, doesn’t mean the whole room should be painted that colour. You’ll want plenty of neutrals, creams and whites in there too.

A Monochromatic colour scheme can create a sophisticated and calm feeling space. It works great in bedrooms and sitting rooms where you want a more relaxed feel.


Analogous or harmonious colour schemes use 2 colours that sit side by side on the colour wheel, such as blue and green.

This creates a restful and elegant scheme and can be brought to life with crisp whites or creams. Choose one of your colours as your main colour (use it 2-3 times throughout the room) and the other as an accent (use it 1-2 times).

This colour scheme is another excellent option for bedrooms and sitting rooms.


This is probably the most well-known way of creating a colour scheme. For this one, we choose colours opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as yellow and purple or blue and orange.

A complimentary colour scheme creates a very straightforward and unsophisticated design which can be great for kitchens, communal spaces, games rooms and any other social spaces. But, again, remember to always choose one dominant colour out of the two, and the other should sit as an accent colour.


A triadic colour scheme, much like complimentary, uses colours equal in distance from each other on the colour wheel to create a fun and lively colour scheme. However, it can be overdone, so make sure you choose which of the 3 colours will be your main colour, and the other 2 should be accents used sparingly. 

This colour scheme is excellent in social rooms and children’s play spaces.


Finally, as simple as it sounds, we can create a colour scheme from black, grey, white and beige. This makes a tremendous minimalist scheme which helps our furniture and artwork pop.

A neutral colour scheme can be great in properties with lots of character because it allows those architectural features to shine.

So there you have your basics! Our best tips for applying these to your design are:

  • Consider your building materials when you’re putting your colour scheme together. A brick wall will add red/orange to your colour scheme, so to balance the room, orange/red must be considered when picking your colour scheme.
  • Don’t forget to check your neutrals – every neutral colour will have an undertone (usually red, purple, yellow, or grey). Make sure you don’t have an undertone in the neutral that will clash with your colour scheme.
  • If you are unsure, mood board it out! Put pictures of the colours you’re planning to use along with the furniture you plan on using on one page. You can see how it will all go together and tweak it until you are happy. Don’t wait until the paint is on the walls!

If you need more help with your colour scheme, you can download our guide for creating your colour schemes here or book a colour consultancy with us by booking a free discovery call.

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