We’ve talked about decorating trends before, so we thought in this piece, we’d go back to basics and talk about colour theory and how that helps inform decisions about decorating.

What is colour theory? You might recognise the colour wheel, it has the primary colours of red, blue and yellow, alongside the secondary colours which are green, orange and purple. We can create colours like magenta by mixing a primary with a secondary – these then give us our tertiary colours.

Any colours that sit next door to each other on the colour wheel are known as analogous or harmonious colours, and are generally good at working together in a room. They can help create quite natural, tranquil looking spaces. However, do this too much and you might find that the room lacks some vibrancy or vitality.

This is where the complimentary colour comes in – the colour right opposite on the colour wheel. Red is opposite green (or pink opposite lime), orange is opposite blue, yellow is opposite purple. Of course you can vary on those, for example a mid-yellow to orange is opposite a very dark blue. Once we start to add complimentary colours to the colour scheme, the room begins to have a bit more energy.

How can we use the colour wheel to help us decorate? Now that we understand a little more about how the colour wheel works, we can look at the different types of decorating with colour that we can do.

The first to mention is monochrome. Despite popular belief, this doesn’t mean black and white, it’s actually just one colour. For example, using the colour green to decorate your room. We don’t want the same colour throughout, but what we can do is use different tones and shades from that colour for the room.

The second way to utilise the colour wheel is to go down the route of using those harmonious colours. These colours are already easy friends because they come from the same family – and this is why you’ll see a lot of pink and red together, or yellow and green. These colours work well with neutral colours to help highlight a wall, or an element.

The final way is to use the complimentary colour scheme that we mentioned above. Match the colours with neutral or darker earthy colours for a more striking look.

And to finish, the most important thing to remember is to be aware of the tones – and make sure when you are using different colours, to match their tones well so that they don’t clash or look out of place.

The colour wheel really can teach us a lot!