How to choose colour palette for home design

Starting a home design project starts with inspiration and imagination. It is a creative process, so you need to get inspired by different designs and styles, and at the same time, it is a problem-solving process where you need to address the requirements of your home. 

Before choosing materials, designers like to have a colour palette to work with. This colour palette (or colour scheme) is subjective. Therefore, there is no right or wrong. It needs to feel right to you. In this article, we look at some tips on how to make your colour palette. 

 Table of Content

  • Search for Inspiration 
  • Use room elements
  • Limit your palette to just three colours 
  • Pick one colour
  • Start with designing formal spaces
  • The interior is like exterior
  • Use your clothes as a hint of colours
  • Consider light effects
  • Make small spaces bolder 
  • Make use of warm and cold contrasting colours


    a vibrant and colourful room with many art pieces hanging on the wall. There is a blue sofa in the room with a dog sitting on it.

    Search for inspiration

    Find images that you like online or in print. Use these images as inspiration and learn from their colour scheme. You don’t need to copy exactly what they have done, but looking at all these images will help you in creating your own colour palette. 

    There are tons of sources out there to help you out on this. Of course websites like Pinterest are a number one go-to for most people, but dont limit yourself. Try finding different sources and study colour schemes. 


    spacious room with light brown sofas and chairs and big windows

     Use room elements

    Choose your colours based on less flexible items such as furniture or tiles rather than the paint colour. Paint colours can be easily changed but less flexible elements in your room can’t. 

    Try to choose this from the largest elements in your room. If you have a big sofa in the room you are designing, that would be a good item to work with. 


    living room with grey floors and creamy colour couches.

    Limit your palette to just three colours

    This is one of the primary pieces of advice for choosing colour schemes. Try not to exceed four colours when choosing colour palettes for a design. This will help you in making the colour palette seem too messy. Always remember: less is more. 

    To choose these colours you can get assistance from a colour wheel. 

    the colour wheel

    A colour wheel is a grid that helps you in finding colours that are harmonious with one another based on their geometric relationships presented on the wheel. 

    The colour wheel is widely used by designers and artists. Here, we show you how to use this in brief.


    Same Colour Variations 

    the colour wheel showing the variations of the colours

    By choosing the light and dark variations of the same colour, you can create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere or a more moody and striking one. This method is very simple and highly effective. It is the primary colour scheme in your toolbox. 


    Two Complementary Colours 

    colour wheel showing complementary colours

    All the colours on the wheel can be complemented with the colour placed on the opposite side of the wheel. For example, blue and orange or red and green. You have seen these colours combined many times. 

    Using this variation you can add a second colour to your palette that is in harmoney with the primary colour. You can combine both and give each one equal presence or use the second one as an accent colour for some contrast. 


    Three Complementary Colours

    colour wheel showing three complementary colours
    This variation is similar to the two complementary colour method. However, instead of one contrasting colour you choose two. The diagram above shows you how to choose the third colour. 


    minimalistic design with staircase and a green colour chair
    Pick one colour 

    To start your work, pick a colour. It can be any colour. You can choose a colour you like. Then work with that colour. Find other colours that are harmonious. Eliminate colours that don’t go well with it. 


    a cosy living room with earthly colours and white colour palette
    Start with designing formal spaces 
    When unsure where to start, begin with formal spaces such as the dining room or living room rather than the bedroom. These areas have some of the main furniture of your house. Use the colour scheme from these pieces of furniture and create a palette. Then try to keep the colour palette cohesive when designing other areas. 


    a living room with blue walls and brown sofa
    The Interior is like exterior 

    A tip from designers is that divide your room into three sections: floor, walls and ceiling. Think of it like an exterior space and choose colours from dark to bright. The floor should be the darkest and the ceiling the brightest (like the sky). 


    dark academia interior design style
    Consider the colour meaning 

    Every colour has a meaning and mood that it expresses. These feelings include excitement, serenity, calmness and elegance. For instance, we know that the colour blue and green are often associated with serenity and calmness and red is associated with verve and excitement. Choose your colour palette according to what kind of mood you want to get from the room. 


    a rack with clothes on it
    Use your clothes as a hint of colours

    If you are not sure what colours are your favourite colours, take a look at your clothes. People often wear colours that they like the most. Choose those to work with. 


    a modern style bedroom with natural light
    Consider light effects

    Lighting is the most important aspect of any room. Before choosing the colours of any room, make sure you know what kind of lighting it will receive and the functionality of the room. 

    Natural light is considered the best kind of lighting and it tends to be uniform but it changes during the day. 

    Before choosing the colour palette for a room spend some time in it and consider how the light affects the room and colours. If the room receives less natural light (for example in case of a room with only northern light exposure), warm colours may work better to soften the shadows. 

    You need to know the usability of the room during different times of the day. For example, if it’s a bedroom where you are only going to spend hours without sunlight in it, think about how incandescent or fluorescent light will affect the room colours. 


    dark colour living room with dark green walls and dark colour furniture.
    Make small spaces bolder 

    The common idea is that you should use light colours in smaller spaces to make them look more spacious. Well, that’s an old school concept. What we suggest is doing the opposite. Use darker colours for smaller spaces to make them pop! 

    You can make use of walls in small spaces and corners as feature walls and use accent or darker colours to create a unique space. 


    fun and lively living room well lit with natural light
    Make use of warm and cold contrasting colours 

    When choosing your colours, try to have two contrasting colours that are in harmony. This will help you avoid having a boring design. For doing this, you can use contrasting warm and cold colours. 

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