How to use colour in interior design

16 November 2022|7 Minutes

How to find your colour scheme

How to use colour in interior design is one of the questions I get asked the most. As I am mad about colour and have not spared it in my interior projects on the fabulous sheila shed that was born in the bottom of our garden, I’d like to think I have some insight into how to make colour work in most spaces, big or small, new or old, you too can do colour right!


Physical Moodboard

The beauty of using a physical mood board is that you can move all the colours around. These will all eventually be in the home and they’re still going to go. You’ll come up with some interesting pairings which you might not have thought of before.

I’m currently building a full house physical mood board to keep a track of how it is all looking together. I usually like white walls so the colour goes everywhere else. It’s like an illusion of colour when 90% of the house stays white which often surprises people.

How to pick colours that go together? 

Top tip – never decorate a room in isolation, your house is a whole, and each space should work in isolation AND together. This will add flow and cohesion to your home. Think of your house as a sandwich, each element needs to work together to make it tasty!

After all, you can’t go slapping tuna with peanut butter now, can you?

So how do you go about picking the colours to go together for your locked-in colour scheme?

I picked eight colours that form the basic/base of the whole house colour scheme and I will use them to then pick out everything else that’s going in the house. Paint cards are your friend! They’re going to do so much colour pairing for you. I always have one and take one everywhere with me. I have been using the Farrow & Ball so picking one that has the colours you love will work for this.

Colour cards have been created by experts. There is a lot of science behind them and they are in positions based on what paint is mixed into them. Therefore they are perfect if you are not yet confident in colour. You can order your free colour card from Farrow & Ball here.

One of the colours I have picked was the beautiful red earth. If I wanted to add other shades of pinky red, I would go for the closest to it in the line. So, in this case, I am going to have red earth in a room, want a tonal deep feel to it so I would then go ahead and add Picture Gallery Red and the one at the bottom ‘Incarnadine’ and I would be looking for cushions and fabric in those two colours darker.

Then we get to the crazy bit. You want to go ahead and then pick two colours from a different family. Let’s say you want pink and green but don’t know how to match the colours that go.

Here is my red earth, the colours going across the paint card have the same undertones in them. Basically, a little bit of paint that is mixed in could be grey could be black, who knows. You don’t need to know all that. What you DO need to know is that the lines going across are going to help you match. So if you are looking for a yellow shade you’d go for the Citron one. The Cardroom Green would work wonderfully too. It’s helpful to fold over your colour card to see if they work.

Sometimes they might be on the same line but unless they are next to each other you might not think they work but they do! The paint card isn’t just for paint so remember to take it out with you when you’re shopping for furnishings.

I have also paired the deep red ‘Incarnate’ with the ‘Arsenic’ blue shade which without the colour card I might not have spotted but the two work beautifully together and it’s a really interesting combination. This goes to show how these babies can really help you put togehter your colour scheme and inspire your choices.

If you are looking for a more unusual combination, you shouldn’t be scared to think and look beyond the box. I have been going mad about mood boards. They’ve been super helpful when thinking about the colours and all the elements I want in the house. I have gone a little bit beyond my comfort zone specifically with one room…the roof terrace. I have gone for a contemporary Moroccan look with a deep teal, beige and deep dark red.

Moroccan Inspired Roof Terrace Moodboard

Should I avoid colour if I have a small space?

I have also paired the deep red ‘Incarnate’ with the ‘Arsenic’ blue shade. Without the colour card, I might not have spotted this combination. But the two work beautifully together. This goes to show how these babies can really help you put together your colour scheme and inspire your choices.

For more interior design and home decor inspirations, I have more blogs and tips in-store.