The perfect complementPublished on April 25, 2011

  • A colour wheel. (Provided)

Combining colours in your space may seem difficult, but with a few simple tips and tricks, in no time you'll be on your way to a beautiful, harmonious colour scheme.

Monochromatic schemes are the simplest to work with, especially for the novice, as they use a single main colour, usually in a variety of darker shades and lighter tints.

Remember, this doesn't necessarily mean black and white; your scheme could be based around various shades of blue, for example.

To keep a monochromatic scheme interesting, it's a good idea to mix up patterns and textures and consider adding a neutral colour such as white, grey or "greige."

To understand complementary colour schemes, it helps to look at a decorator's colour wheel, and we've attached a simple version to the article for you.

Complementary schemes are formed by putting together colours which are on opposite sides of the wheel, for example yellow and violet, or blue-green and red-orange. Normally we will pick one colour to be dominant and the other colour will be used in a tint.

Triadic schemes involve the use of three different colours, spaced equally around the wheel, such as yellow, red and blue, or green, orange and violet. Again, you'll want to choose one as your main colour and utilize the others as tints.

With all the schemes above, you'll often add a neutral into the mix. As an example, you'll often see a room with a neutral wall colour, using strong complementary colours as "pops" to liven up the space.

A couple of final tips: firstly, keep things simple - one or two colours with some bright accents is usually as much as you need.

Secondly, the stronger the colour, the smaller the area it should cover - that bright orange bathroom might seem like a good idea now, but you may well get tired of it more quickly than a slightly more muted scheme.

That's it for now! Enjoy playing with colour, thanks for reading and speak soon!


Graham is the owner of Blueberry Interiors, an interior decor consultancy, specializing in modern design themes. You can keep up with him here at Ottawa at Home, on Twitter by following @grahamcowen, or you can reach him directly at


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