The art of using a colour wheel

Used by interior designers, a colour wheel enables you to successfully combine colours within a room whether they’re on the walls or floors, or a part of soft furnishings or accessories. The wheel is divided into colour segments: the three primary shades red, blue and yellow; the secondary colours orange, purple and green; and then the tertiary colours, which mix a primary with a secondary to create yellow orange, blue green and so on. Here are some tips on using a colour wheel for interior design.

Picking the palette

The wheel will show you which colours will work together and enable you to create the mood you’re after, too. For a restful atmosphere, you could put together a monochromatic scheme, which uses one colour to unify the room, but ensures the effect has interest by making use of different shades and tints of the colour.

Contrast & Impact

If you’d prefer more contrast, but like the idea of a calm ambience, choose an analogous scheme. Often found naturally, this scheme features three colours that sit next to each other on the wheel – for example yellow, yellow-green and green.

For a room that’s more attention-grabbing, pick complementary colours – those that are opposite each other on the wheel. If you team primary shades, such as red and green, your scheme will be bolder than a pairing such as orange and blue.

Not all colours are created equal

Proportion is important, so don’t aim to use equal amounts of each colour within a room. In an analogous scheme, a dominant colour used with a smaller amount of the second then the third as an accent can be very successful. For a complementary scheme, use more of your first colour if you don’t want a competition with an unhappy result.

Shape shifting

When you’re picking, bear in mind that the warm colours, such as red and orange, appear to advance towards the eye, while cool colours, like blue and green, recede. If you’d like a room to feel bigger, try a pale, cool colour on the walls, which creates a sense of space. if it’s open and barn-like, achieve an intimate feeling with a warm rich colour – think of traditional dining room red. Pay attention to the way in which your room faces in your selections as well. A north-facing room and cool colours are a chilly combination, while a warm colour in full sun could be overwhelming.