Colour theory

The basics of designing with colour

The idea of a ‘colour wheel’ showing the relationship between different colours has its origins in the 17th century. Sir Isaac Newton discovered the visible spectrum of light and designed a divided circle to demonstrate his findings – his rudimentary experiments are the reason we think in primary (red, blue, yellow) and secondary (green, orange, purple) colours today.

A colour wheel is helpful for working out what colour combinations and schemes would look good for your home.


Use shades of the same colour to create a unified look with depth. Mixing different tones can add energy to a room whilst keeping colours simple.


This scheme is made up of colours found on opposite sides of the colour wheel, like blue and orange or purple and yellow. Used correctly, the colours seem brighter when next to each other.

Split complementary

This takes one colour from the wheel and then the two colours adjacent to its complement. 


Main image: Loaf Facebook page

Caitlin Bowring

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