6 ways to pick a colour scheme for your space


There are seven colours in a rainbow and about 10 million in the world – and that’s just counting the ones we can actually see. It’s no wonder that colour choice is such a common dilemma.

We ease that #firstworldproblem with six approaches that will work for any space.

1. Begin with the biggest and boldest

…rooms, that is. Your living room and dining area are examples of the biggest and most visible rooms in the house, while your workspace takes up most of your office. Pick a favourite colour or a comfortable neutral for a wall or even a piece of signature furniture, then select complementary colours for the other parts of that room and the other rooms. The biggest room will help set the tone of the whole area.


Pins Studio
Project: Setia Eco Park -Semi D, Shah Alam

Consider a similar approach, which is choosing a colour for your would-be boldest coloured room. If you want the office waiting area to be the biggest standout, then pick a bold colour for that room and choose complementary colours for other areas.

2. One hue, several shades

Speaking of complementary colours, an easy way to colour several rooms and ensure that they look like they belong to the same house, office, or café, is by painting and decorating it with different shades of a single colour, like blue.

Stylish turquoise and gray interior

© Katarzyna Białasiewicz | 123rf

Keep walls, furniture, and décor in lights and darks of the same colour, barring accent pieces that can be neutrals like white and black or metals like gold, bronze, and silver. This approach works especially well with whites and neutrals which create a modern luxury interior.

3. Two’s company, three’s a party!

Pick three colours to fill a room; choose a main colour that will take up 60% of the room (think walls, ceiling, rugs, and big furniture pieces), a secondary colour that will take up 30% of the room (upholstery and smaller furniture pieces), and an accent colour that will take up 10% of the room. Have fun with that last one – go for a bright colour, a pretty pastel, or a sure-win metal like gold.

Turquoise couch against white wall with painting in flat interior with ficus and chairs at table

© 123rf

Another good way to arrange these colours is to mimic nature – anchor the bottom of the room (i.e. flooring and rug) with the darkest colour and keep the top of the room (i.e. ceiling) light. Use the mid-tone colour for furniture and walls. This formula works because it mimics nature’s ground, sky, and all the other stuff in between.

4. Don’t reinvent the (colour) wheel

colour wheel

© Nattaya Makerd | 123rf

An easy way to find complementary colours is by referring to the colour wheel. Colours that are near each other and opposite each other match well. There are also split complementary colours: choose any colour on the wheel plus 2 other colours equally spaced from the colour you chose.

If you don’t know where to start, refer to a colour wheel and choose a favourite colour or a colour you can see yourself living with (in large chunks of your living space, no less!). Then choose the complementary colours based on the wheel.

5. Determine the mood

Colour psychology is the reason why different colours make you feel differently. Decide on the functionality and intended mood of a room before picking a colour. A peaceful colour like green is great for the home office and harmonious spaces like the living room.

Black lamp next to green armchair in living room interior with p

© Katarzyna Białasiewicz | 123rf

Meanwhile, a red bedroom can really set the mood *nudge nudge* while a blue room creates a calming sanctuary for the weary.

6. Well-coordinated rooms

Yes, it’s important that the different rooms in your space are complementary. This doesn’t mean that your whole house has to be that one shade of plum, it just means that rooms that are close to each other should be at least complementary.

© 123rf

Take special note of rooms within the same vicinity; determine for example, all the rooms you see from the living room. This might include the hallway, kitchen, and dining room. If you have more than one storey in your space, pick different colour palettes for the different storeys as one storey is not visible from another.

This article was originally published as 6 ways to pick a colour scheme for your space by atap.co and is written by Charmaine Kon.