Understanding colour theory for your home

Choosing the right colour scheme really bring your interiors to life. Read the Lendlease tips on colour theory to take your home design to the next level.

Home Design

Adding a little (or a lot) of colour to your walls can transform the look and feel of your interiors.


Whether you’re a fan of bold colours or neutrals, follow our quick guide to paint colour selection to make every room a stylish space.

Harmony and contrast – using colour theory

Understanding colour theory is the first step towards deciding on a scheme. There are plenty of references online but the basic rules come down to understanding the colour wheel and choosing complementary and analogous colours.

So if, for example, coral with navy or dusky pink with mint green are your thing, think about choosing complementary colours (from opposite sides of the colour wheel). These combinations can create a vibrant, playful interior style.

When you select from analogous colours next to each other on the wheel – like teal and green, or red, scarlet and orange – the effect is calming and more natural. Dial up the intensity to add drama to analogous schemes (like orange, amber and yellow) or choose gentler, lighter hues (like teal and green) to soften the contrast of complementary colours.

Working with available light  

For rooms awash with natural light, cool blues and greens will balance the sense of warmth from the sunshine. When you have less light available, warm colours like pink, red and orange can make a space feel more comfortable and welcoming. Neutral tones can also have a warm or cool base colour, so select carefully when choosing whites, greys and charcoals.

There are almost as many paint finishes and textures to choose from as colours. If your rooms are a little gloomy, a pale colour in a satin finish on walls can boost the light reflected back into the space, plus it’s easier to clean. Gloss paints and enamels are less prone to chips and stains so they’re ideal for protecting architraves, skirting boards and doors from scuffs and knocks.

Colours for work, rest and play

Be sure you consider the purpose of each room you’re decorating when choosing wall colours. While indigo might work beautifully to create a secluded bedroom sanctuary, it could be too overbearing for a kitchen or breakfast room. A dark, dominant colour in one space can act as a link to another room when it’s used as a highlight colour for tiles, joinery, furnishings and curtains.

Current colour trends

By announcing two soft and harmonious hues of pink and blue as their “Colour of the Year” Pantone have inspired professional and home decorators everywhere to play with this gentle pastel palette. Rose Quartz and Serenity work beautifully together and are easy to combine with a whole range of colour schemes and decorating styles from French Country to Scandinavian. Expect to see them teamed with other on-trend finished for 2016 such as copper, leather and cork.

No matter which colours you favour, if you take some time to consider how your whole house will look and choose a unified colour palette, then with just a lick of paint you can make it more peaceful and relaxing (or even more dramatic and energetic, if that’s what you want). And better yet, if you change your mind, re-painting is a lot cheaper and easier than buying new furniture and carpets – so don’t be afraid to experiment.