Colour Scheme Guide For Your Home

Need a quick tutorial on what colour schemes to use for your home? Use this as your cheat sheet.

Updated on June 09, 2017 9:06 am

Camille Besinga


Ever felt excited about doing a home redesign or renovation, but were paralysed in your tracks by the idea of picking out a colour scheme? Don’t fret; millions of newbie home renovators have been there.

It’s easy to leave the job to an interior designer, but if some of us can’t afford the services of one, then it’s best to do a bit of research (right here on Cromly!). It’s as simple as having a colour wheel at hand, and figuring out which colour configurations you’d like to have, a.k.a. a scheme or palette that you or your decorator will follow when repainting, changing out wall coverings or floor treatments, as well as choosing furniture, décor, and other accessories.

First things first: We must define some terms in order for you to understand more clearly how colours work and relate to each other.

Hue is, simply put, pure colour based on the light spectrum.
Value refers to how light or how dark a colour is.
Saturation refers to how much of a hue is present in a colour.
Tint is any colour or hue mixed with white.
Tone is any colour or hue mixed with grey.
Shade is any colour or hue mixed with black.

Source: By J. Arthur H. Hatt (The Colorist) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Now that we have those definitions at hand, let’s move on to the colour wheel. According to Corky Bingelli in the book Interior Design: A Survey, “colour wheels help designers learn about the relationships of colours. [It] organises colours into three primary colours (red, yellow, and blue) and three secondary colours (violet, orange, and green).”


A tonal colour scheme (also known as a monochromatic scheme) uses one hue in different tones. In the example above, the bedroom makes use of several tones of the colour yellow. To keep the look from becoming too boring, textures and patterns are introduced so that the eye sees a bit more variety and won’t get tired of the hue too easily.


A harmonious colour scheme makes use of colours that sit right next to each other on the colour wheel. The powder room and hallway above show how this scheme can be used in adjacent areas as well, to create a seamless flow between spaces, but still differentiate each space depending on its function. Blue, a primary colour, and its varying tints, tones, and shades, sits next to green on the colour wheel. Because different values and saturation levels of the blues and greens are utilised here, the colour scheme creates a pleasant (hence, harmonious) mix.


A complementary colour scheme makes use of hues that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. Here, the complementary colours blue and orange are used to create a Mediterranean feel to this outdoor dining and living area. Complementary schemes tend to provide more drama to a space. To keep hues from clashing or overpowering each other, pick one main colour and use the other as an accent.

Cover photo courtesy of HGTV


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