How to Mix and Match Colours Like a Pro

Do you ever sit in your flat, itching to give it a spruce, but unsure where to begin? When you look at images on Instagram, Pinterest or in magazines, interiors look perfect. They combine unexpected colours in effortless harmony. You could never create anything even close to that on your own, right? Wrong! Of course, hiring an interior designer – a professional with years of experience and a trained eye – will make the process significantly easier. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create a Pinterest or Instagram-worthy interior on your own.


Today we will walk you through some of the tricks of mixing and matching colours, which will help you step away from the boring colour schemes of greys and whites and create a unified colour palette.


Learn how to use the colour wheel


Think of the colour wheel as your cheat sheet for colour matching. Once you learn the basic rules of using it, you’ll be able to easily identify colours that work well together.


Image source: Lifehacker.com


Blue, yellow, and red are the primary colours. By mixing them you get the secondary colours of green, orange, and purple. Combining primary and secondary colours results in tertiary colours. Primary, secondary, and tertiary colours are known as hues. They are a solid place to start your colour matching process.


Colour variations are achieved by adding white to a primary, secondary, or tertiary colour and, therefore, making it lighter (called a tint), adding black and darkening a colour (called a shade), or lightly darkening a colour with grey (called a tone). Once you select your basic colour scheme, you can then play around with how bright or muted you want those colours to be.


Complementary Colours: two colours directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. Going with such colours creates high contrast, so we suggest to use them in moderation.


Analogous Colours: three colours next each other on the wheel. Picking analogous colours gives more gentle results in terms of colour contrasts. Decide on your dominant colour, use the second colour to support it, and leave the brightest of the three to accessories and colour pops.


Split Complementary Colours: three colours where one is across from two colours adjacent to its complementary colour. This is a perfect solution for those who want to combine drastically different colours, but are hesitant to use high-contrast hues as with complementary colours.


Triadic Colours: three colours equally apart from each other. Imagine drawing an equilateral triangle and placing it on the wheel. Colours that are on each corner of the triangle form a triadic palette. These hues create a strong visual affect as they form a high-contrast colour scheme. As such, we recommend to use these colours with caution.


Tetradic Colours: two sets of complementary colours. This colour scheme is by far the hardest one to make work for beginners. It uses high-contrast colours, which can’t be combined according to the 60-30-10 rule, which we will go over in a second.


Now that you’ve learned how to use the colour wheel, you can easily create your own colour schemes. The next step is to learn how to best apply these colours.


Follow the 60-30-10 rule


This is an easy rule to learn and, once you do, you’ll start noticing it in most interior designs that you come across in magazines and on Pinterest boards. Here is how it works. Select a dominant colour and decorate 60% of the space in that colour. Give your secondary colour 30% of the space. Use the third colour to add colour accents, allocating to it about 10% of the space.

Image source: Pexels


You don’t have to be precise with this rule, measuring out every square centimetre of your space. Rather, use it as a guideline, something to aim for. For example, in your living room you can paint walls in a dominant colour, and, perhaps, have your largest furniture pieces in the same colour. The second layer of colour comes from your secondary hue (30%). You can use it for throws, curtains, area rugs, a coffee table, or an accent wall.


Finally, bring the interior together with your third colour, which you will strategically use for smaller accents – lamps, planters, picture frames, etc. Here you will find a few great tips on how to add a pop of colour to your space.


When in doubt, try it out


For a small fee, most home and garden stores will provide you with samples of the materials you are interested in purchasing, be it a paint or a fabric sample. Use the opportunity to see how different hues and shades work together by applying a couple of coats of paint onto your walls. Make sure to give paint a few hours to dry before you evaluate the results.


If you are still unsure how to combine and apply colours or need a source of inspiration, check out these colour palettes. It’ll get you started in no time. Good luck!

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