The basics of colour theory for the DIY-er

Colour theory is so important to interior design that it's often considered the cornerstone. It helps you to create a balanced and harmonious colour scheme in your home. But what if you're not an experienced designer? Try these tips on how to use colour effectively in your next project. 

The Basics
The choice of colours in a room are used to create a cohesive look, and the colour wheel is a helpful tool for selecting the right colours. Traditionally, there are three primary colours (red, yellow, and blue), three secondary colours (orange, green, and purple), and six tertiary colours (red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, and red-purple). By understanding how these colours interact with each other, you can create a harmonious scheme for your interiors. There are lots of tutorials on You Tube that walk you through how to effectively use the colour wheel so why not check one out today?

Another good thing to remember is the 60-30-10 rule. It is a good guide to follow when choosing colours for your decor. This rule basically means that 60% of the room should be one dominant colour, 30% should be a secondary colour and the last 10% should be an accent colour – think cushions and throws, as if we needed an excuse!

Mood & Atmosphere
When selecting a colour scheme for a room, it's important to consider the overall mood you want to create. Do you want the space to feel relaxed and calming where you can chill at the end of the week with a glass of wine, or energising and exciting to motivate and get some work done? Once you've decided on your mood goal for the space, you can start to build your colour palette. For example, light colours tend to make a room feel more spacious, while dark colours can make a room feel more intimate. Be sure to consider how each colour will work with the others, and how the different shades will interact with the natural light in the room. Colour can have a powerful effect on our emotions, so it is important to select colours that will promote the desired atmosphere.

Study with green chair and floral wallpaper


Tone, Shades & Hues
When we talk about colour you will also hear people refer to tones, shades and hues. A tone is a colour with black or white added to it. When testing paint colours, paint a large enough area so you can see how the tone changes under different lighting conditions. One trick here is painting large panels to move around the room and test the paint in different light before you commit to a colour on the walls. The tone of your paint will appear different in morning light than it does in afternoon light. You may love a colour in your living room, but hate it in your bedroom. To create interest and depth in your room, choose tones of the same colour for your walls and furniture. For example, if you have a grey couch, use a tone of grey on the walls. Add depth by using shades of the same tone on the floor and ceiling.

By using shades – colours with a similar tone but different hue – you can also create interesting effects. For example, using different shades of blue in a room might give the impression of looking out at a calm sea. Tone and shade are important tools in creating the perfect atmosphere in your home.

Contrast is one of the most important principles of interior design. It refers to the use of two or more elements that are different in order to create visual interest. Contrast can be created through the use of colour, texture, pattern, light, and darkness. When used effectively, contrast can add depth and dimension to a space. It can also be used to highlight specific features or to create a focal point. Contrast is an essential tool for any designer (yes, you are a DIY designer now) looking to create an engaging and visually interesting space. It can be a bit tricky to get right, but when done well, it can really make a space pop. If you're looking to add some contrast to your DIY project, Greg Natale is the perfect place to start. His use of contrast is masterful, and he always seems to get it just right. If you're looking for some inspiration on how to use contrast in your own design, be sure to check out his work. You won't be disappointed.

Lounge room with grey couch and orange accent cushions and lamp shades


When used correctly, colour theory can be a powerful tool to create an interior that’s both cohesive and striking. By understanding the basics of tone, contrast, and cohesion, you can start experimenting with different combinations to see what works best for your space. With just a few small changes, you could see a big difference in the look and feel of your home. Have you tried using any different colours in your decorating scheme? What was the outcome? We’d love to hear about it, tag us @Lux_Hax so we can check it out!