The Art of Colour Matching: How to Choose Complementary Paint Colours

The Art of Colour Matching: How to Choose Complementary Paint Colours

Colour can dramatically alter the mood and aesthetic of a room. Understanding colour theory is essential in choosing paint colours that complement each other, ensuring your space feels harmonious and balanced. This guide will help you navigate the colourful world of interior design and select the perfect palette for your home.

Understanding Colour Theory

At the heart of colour matching lies colour theory, which is based on the colour wheel. Developed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666, the colour wheel displays a spectrum of colours arranged in a circle. It's an invaluable tool for decorators and designers, as it visually illustrates the relationship between colours.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colours

  • Primary Colours: Red, blue, and yellow - these cannot be made by mixing other colours.
  • Secondary Colours: Green, orange, and purple - created by mixing two primary colours.
  • Tertiary Colours: Result from mixing primary and secondary colours, such as blue-green or red-violet.

Complementary Colours

Complementary colours are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. These pairs, such as blue and orange or red and green, create high contrast and high impact. When used thoughtfully, complementary colours can make a space vibrant yet balanced.

Analogous Colours

For a more harmonious and less contrasting look, analogous colours are ideal. These are colours next to each other on the wheel, like blue, blue-green, and green. They provide a serene and comfortable design, often found in nature.

Monochromatic Schemes

A monochromatic colour scheme uses variations in lightness and saturation of a single colour. This approach offers simplicity and elegance. Using shades, tints, and tones of the same hue can create a sophisticated and cohesive look.

Triadic Colours

Triadic colour schemes involve three colours evenly spaced around the colour wheel. This combination is quite bold and, when balanced correctly, can be stunning and vibrant.

Tips for Choosing Paint Colours

  1. Start with Inspiration: Use a favourite piece of art, a rug, or a fabric as a starting point for your colour palette.

  2. Consider the Mood: Decide what atmosphere you want in the room. Warm colours often create a cozy and energising feel, while cool colours can be calming and soothing.

  3. Test Your Colours: Paint swatches on your walls and observe them at different times of day. Lighting can significantly impact how a colour appears.

  4. Balance with Neutrals: If you're using bold colours, balance them with neutral shades to ensure the space doesn't become overwhelming.

  5. Factor in Furniture and Accessories: Consider the colours of your existing or planned furniture and accessories. They should complement the colour scheme of your walls.

  6. Consult a Professional: When in doubt, professional advice can be invaluable in ensuring your chosen colours work well together and in your space.


Colour matching can transform a room from ordinary to extraordinary. By understanding colour theory and considering the effect you wish to achieve, you can select a colour scheme that not only looks good but also feels right. Whether you choose bold and contrasting or subtle and serene colours, remember that the best design reflects your personal style and the mood you wish to create.

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