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17 September 2014
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Shades of red

Planning a scheme

Start planning your scheme with that indispensable tool, the mood board.

Using a mood board will give you a direction for your creativity, somewhere to crystallise your thoughts and a way to share your ideas with others.

Begin by choosing your main base colour from the colour wheel. This might be a colour you particularly like. Most people are always drawn to a certain colour. Look around you, what colour do you wear the most? Is there a colour that you'd love to wear but doesn' t suit you that you'd love on your walls instead?

It is rare we get a total free rein or start with a totally blank slate, the base colour might be dictated by something you're stuck with such as a grey carpet or an avocado bathroom suite. However, this doesn't have to hold you back. Use the colour wheel to look at what colours go with this colour and decide whether to go for a tonal, harmonious, or complementary scheme.

Colour schemes

For best results, choose one of the following schemes.

  1. Tonal - use just one colour but varying tones of it throughout a room or use more than one colour but all with the same depth of tone.
  2. Harmonious - pick colours next to each other or near each other on the wheel. These schemes generally give a look that's easy to live with and are tranquil and restful.
  3. Complementary - or 'contrasting' colours lie opposite each other on the colour wheel. Complementary colours generally inject some life into a scheme, are more daring and will make more of an impact but might not be so easy to live with.

Create a mood


Colour is the easiest and most effective way of instantly creating a mood for every room in your home.

Try using warm, advancing colours in areas where you want people to feel welcomed such as living rooms, dining rooms and halls.
You may want to make your bathroom a relaxing, stress free spa with watery colours reminiscent of the sea. Or you may want to nudge your family to get going in the morning and inject some energy with splashes of zesty acid pastels. Take your inspiration from nature.
You may want your dining room to be smart and formal for lots of corporate entertaining with navy blue or you may want a relaxed, informal feel where all the family can chill.
A chic, contemporary bedroom could be conjured from layering neutrals or create a dramatic boudoir with purples and reds.
Play around with lighting to create moods for different situations, for example, romantic, practical, formal, entertaining etc.

Linking rooms with colour

You may have loads of ideas for different colour schemes in each room of your house and be dying to give them all a try. But stop and think of the overall effect when all the doors are open and you can see into each room. In a smaller house this can tend to look a bit of a mish-mash.

If you'd like to draw the whole scheme together, choose an overall colour for the entire house and then use it in different ways in each room. Larger houses are slightly more forgiving as long as you pay attention to the meeting points.

Choose harmonious colours. You could paint one room blue, the adjacent one a greeny blue, the next purple etc.
Alternatively stick to one colour but use a different tone of it for each room, for example, going from a pale shade of blue to a dark one. This works especially well if your rooms open into one another.
If one room is wallpapered, try picking out one shade from it to paint the next room or use the background colour of the wallpaper as your base colour.
To unify your whole house, keep all the woodwork the same colour - preferably white. If you are going for neutrals on your walls, get some paint mixed up for your woodwork that is a ratio of one part of your neutral colour with three parts white. You can use the same shade on your ceiling.
Don't forget the colour on the opening side of the door into the next room - it doesn't have to match but pick a shade that won't jar.

Before you start

Once you've done your mood board and decided on your colour(s) you are ready to go. But before you start painting:

  1. Buy some tester pots of your chosen colour. Use the whole pot and paint quite a big stretch of wall (no smaller than four feet square).
  2. Don't paint lots of different striped colours in a rainbow. Paint onto pieces of non-absorbent white paper and stick onto the wall.
  3. Leave the sheets up for a few days, move them round the room and look at the paints in all lights. See Light and Colour.
  4. Remember if you want to keep up with fashion but don't want to have to start from scratch every time, keep the floor and large items of expenditure, such as the sofa, in a neutral colour. That way you can simply change the colour of the walls and accessories.

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In Lifestyle

Examples of colour schemes
Light and colour
Inspiration from nature
Paint calculator
DIY planning

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Colour inspiration
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