Design: Creating a Colour Scheme

Design: Creating a Colour Scheme

If I was in a position where money is absolutely no object, my dream job would be to work as a Farrow and Ball colour consultant. In fact, if money were no object, I’d go chat paint charts with people for free. I don’t know why – I just love thinking about colours and how they work together.

In my own home we have finally annihilated the magnolia that dominated the walls for years. Whilst I’d still like to change furniture here or there, and would dearly like to replace the carpets. Each room definitely has colour. From the Plummett Grey in the Hallway, to the Radicchio in the bathroom, and the Blue Gray in the Kids Room – each has it’s own character and has definitely been the result of careful planning and consideration.

I’ve also been lucky enough to be able to assist my Mum decorating her flat in Edinburgh – and really enjoyed choosing the colours for her ‘seaside house’ with my Dad before he passed. As both properties were purchased as blank canvasses, it was a really great opportunity to think about the whole property instead of just individual rooms.

To my delight, other friends have also since asked for my help when choosing colours in their homes too. Most recently, Megan and I had a wonderful afternoon chatting about lots of different ideas for her beautiful Stockbridge home.

Whilst, I am by no means a colour expert – I’d share the stages I go through when thinking about colour schemes in homes.

1. Pinerest Safari

I think a really useful starting point is to get a very clear idea of what you like. Are you traditional? Modern? Boho? You may not know but just by searching for something as broad as ‘living room’ on Pinterest will soon present you with a range of options. It’s natural that you’ll be drawn to certain ideas and I’ve found that I usually end up with a common theme.

The second thing to consider at this stage is the age of your property. I personally, find it a shame when people rip out original features of older properties or don’t at least acknowledge what the shell of the building actually is. Whilst I would love to own a period property I have a new build – I can fight against that but ultimately I’m never going to have high ceilings.

My second search on Pinterest is then to look at what people have done in a similar space to the one I’m looking at. I achieve this just by being more specific with my searches – so maybe something like ‘modern living room’.

Of course, once I have an even clearer idea of what I’m looking for then I can add in more terms to narrow the results. ‘Grey, modern, living room, blue couch.’ will certainly generate a more specific selection and I can then get a feel of whether it would work in the space I have.

2. Think about what you have that cannot be altered

I once made the mistake of choosing a colour for our playroom without considering the flooring – or even the riot of colour provided by the toys. Setting Plaster looks absolutely gorgeous in my Mum’s bedroom – a haven of peace. It did not look good with a cream carpet with yellow undertones and the plastic fantastic that seems to invade my house.

Given that I didn’t have the budget to replace the carpet – I really should have taken this into consideration BEFORE choosing my colour. Let alone painting!

You may even want to go back to Pinterest and add in your immovable objects into search terms. For example, living rooms with bookshelves.

I also think it’s totally possible to disguise objects that can’t be shifted as well. Or actually include them into your colour scheme. This may be something obvious such as buying a very large rug to hide the flooring or up cycling existing furniture. But actually there’s more budget ideas out there.

For example, my friend Megan has lots of books. She doesn’t want to get rid of them as a lot of them are useful reference books. One possible solution therefore is to think about how they could actually add to the colour scheme. I absolutely adore this trend of sorting books by colour.

I think it turns the shelves into a much more cohesive focal point. But also encourages you to keep the shelves looking neat because it’s so obvious when something is out of place!


3. Flow of colour

I absolutely cringe when I think back to my teenage bedroom colour scheme of lilac and cream. Two walls in each. To be fair, it was better than my friend Emma who had opted for a lurid green/orange combo. But it still isn’t going to win any design prizes.

Particularly when you have a blank canvas, I think it’s really useful to think about the ‘flow’ of colour. Particularly in smaller homes, you can often be in a position where you can see multiple rooms at once. Perhaps on a landing for example.

In my mind, one would always want to avoid colours clashing or jarring that you can view simultaneously. I personally wouldn’t want to see a big mish-mash so I think there’s two solutions:

Either opt for colours from within the same palette. Farrow and Ball present their colour groups in columns – so you could adopt these and use them throughout your home for a very uniform look.

Although I’ve since redecorated, I initially used this trick in my living room through to my kitchen. I wanted the spaces to be linked but also different – so I simply changed the shade of paint that I was using. In some lights they looked identical, but the kitchen was Lichen (which has more of a green pigment) whereas the living room was French Grey.


Farrow and Ball colour change


Very few people noticed that the colours are different but lots of visitors said that they liked  the room.

The other option is to use similar ‘weights’ of colour. On Farrow and Ball paint cards these are generally presented in rows. Colours in the same row may be different palettes but offer the same intensity of colour. Often, you will find by choosing colours from the same row – or near enough – you will find that the colours really sit well together.

The Blue Gray in the kids bedroom is obviously very different from Plummett in our hallway. But I am really quite pleased with the balance between the two. Funnily enough – you’ll find them on the same row of the paint card.

This isn’t always the case  – I’ve used Skylight in Ben’s room (which is quite small) which is not from the same row or column as the Plummet it leads off. But when I was choosing the colour for the Hallway – I went to the Farrow and Ball shop to play with their samples.

They have much bigger samples of colours that you can compare with each other to get a really good idea of how things would work. I often take them over to the window to view them in natural light as well. I’ve found that the colours really can change quite dramatically in different lights – so I might look weird but think it’s worth it!

That said, if I were to repaint Ben’s room – I probably would go for a bolder colour. It was originally Katie’s nursery leading off a cream hallway. But I’m in love with the 2017 Botanicals theme and really want to find somewhere to paint Green Smoke!

Do you have a house I could come pick colours for? If so – I’ll bring the gin! If not – come hang out on Instagram or Facebook and we can dream together.

Real Mum Reviews


  1. May 10, 2017 / 9:04 pm

    These are great tips – but I still think I’d be rubbish at executing it. Can you just come up here and decorate my new living room for me?! #humpdaylinky

    • May 11, 2017 / 10:14 am

      I would actually totally do that. Although I actually chose the colours for my friend’s in Norfolk entirely via Skype and various videos they sent! Haha.

  2. May 10, 2017 / 9:33 pm

    I’ve just chosen new colours for my living room (decorator is arriving tomorrow so too late to change). I wish I’d read this first! I think I’ve got the colours right but this would have made me feel
    so much more informed when I made the decisions – fingers crossed it will look good when it’s done #HumpyDayLinky

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