How to match colours in interior design

Tips and tricks to avoid mistakes

Selecting colours for your interior is not an easy task.  People often think that everything can be solved by using grey, or black and white… This is not the case.

Creating nuances for the different rooms of your house is a complicated process because one must consider many factors when selecting the right shades and colours.

For example, you should take into account:

  1. The style you want to achieve
  2. Your taste and your perception of shades (not everyone likes taupe!).
  3. Your old furniture and the new pieces you want to buy
  4. How much daylight you get in the room
  5. The shape of the walls

So, if you ask: Which colour shall I start with? Then my answer is: What story would you like to tell with your interior?

Now for the bad news…

There is no one colour that is suitable for a particular room in advance. However, there are colour combinations that can be devised to help define a MOOD.

If clients or friends ask what colour they should give a certain wall, an (interior) architect would not recommend just any colour. Advice for certain shades is given in connection with the interior project, and the colours are always tried out in the space.

Colour is an indispensable part of the design and as I said, it is part of the package in which daylight, the shape of the walls, furniture and other objects play a role. One should ask themselves, Which of these elements should stand out…? Which is my priority?

GREY fits with everything is a misconception.

Colour is an important element to give rooms a personal touch. Colour determines the style of your interior.

Just as wood makes your interior “warmer”, colour can change the perception and the feelings of a given space.

Thus, in this article, I will not suggest to you what the perfect shades are for decorating your home or which colours you will never get tired of…

However, I will mention methods that can help you find the right colours for your specific interior.

Subtle distinctions in combination with your furniture

Let me illustrate this with a few examples.

In this photo, the interior is contemporary, with neutral shades in which grey dominates.

From the wooden floor to the furniture and accessories, everything is coordinated to achieve this look.

When the floor was chosen, the designer already knew what kind of colour design and effects he wanted to create. In this case, the choice was made to let the floor be pure colour.

Halftones and dark shades of grey form a perfect background from which light grey elements can light up the space. 

Modern and bright

In this next design, the interior is modern and bright, but here the approach of the designer is different.

The wooden floor has kept its old look … (here it’s not just pure colour). Wood is warm. The walls have deliberately been left white to do justice to the warmth of the floor and the wooden furniture. The material, and not the colour, is the most important element in this design.

The style remains modern, but the perception and the feeling about the space are distinctly different… Here the choice of colours followed another strategy. 

What’s more, photos on the walls decorate the room in the same way as colours or bookcases do.

The strong point of this interior design concept is that the walls have minimal impact on the interiors because the floor, the furniture and the prints on the wall have to stand out. 

… Scandinavian?

In our last example, we see a parquet floor with white furniture and walls.

What is going on here? A bright blue accent breaks through the Scandinavian look of the light wood in the living room. Patterned cushions, accessories and lighting all tie together in harmony.

In this case, the colour was chosen in connection with the interior project. It is, therefore, no coincidence that the cushions on the sofa and their geometric patterns are also blue, just like that blue wall.

In short, the choice of colour is never made lightly, but is part of the design and depends on the atmosphere you want to create.

Adapting colours from the walls to the floor: start with white

White is a basic colour but also the colour you can start with.

Once you have decided what kind of floor and what style you want in your home, you can start decorating.

Step by step you can try out whether you want to keep everything white, or whether you want to create soft contrasts.

Please note: there are different shades of white that do not match well together. If you want to have a house in one colour, I advise you to use neutral colours. For example, there are all kinds of shades of very light grey that can easily be adapted to a white background.

The effect is very chic and sophisticated… but also a little bit more refined.

However, if you have a (light) wooden floor, then your (almost) total white house will have a somewhat warmer look.

The rule of contrasts

Colours must be balanced. The brightness of colours can diminish or nuances can disappear if you combine a colour with a neutral tint such as black, white or grey.

Neutral shades help to soften the colour and at the same time create subtle effects.

A good interior project always contains a good colour balance.

The combination of warm and cold shades sometimes leads to a very interesting interior in which this sharp contrast creates a special harmony.

Colour is a powerful instrument in which, used correctly, you can completely change the experience of the space. This makes the various rooms more dynamic and impressive.


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