Creating a whole house colour scheme

Many of my clients are very keen to create a sense of flow throughout the different spaces in their home, but have a preconception that this will involve sticking to a neutral colour palette — not so!  I recently worked on a project where the clients were very keen to push themselves and be bold, but were really emphatic that there should be cohesion as family and visitors moved through the house.

This was part of a whole house design; as you can probably tell, the house is large and imposing with some very striking architectural features. The clients didn't really have favourite colours, or a set style, or even a rug or scarf or piece of art to show me as a springboard. So basically, we looked at creating a 'master colour scheme' for the whole house, with the intention of picking out different colours and dialling them up and down in different rooms.

Bold colours can still be soothing if well thought through.

Bold colours can still be soothing if well thought through.

Given the requirement for so many different permutations through the house, I picked a triadic colour scheme (three colours distributed evenly around the spectrum) and because I was going for a more sophisticated mood, I picked tertiary colours, red-violet, blue-green and yellow-orange (which translated in real life into aubergine, yellow ochre and teal).  A scheme based on primary colours, red, blue and yellow, while giving as many options, would have conveyed a very different mood.   Any permutation of these was up for consideration, from the palest tint to the darkest shade of off-black.   I also added infill colours of a stoney grey with a hint of green and palest pink with a hint of orange and an extremely deep blue-violet.  If you have a colour wheel to hand, you can see that these again are distributed around the spectrum.  We didn't stick 100% rigidly to this, but it did provide the reference point throughout.

The starting point for this particular room was actually the room next to it (through the large doors to the left); a dining room with a an extremely high ceiling, which we totally immersed in aubergine paint to close it in and create an intimate mood, including covering a whole wall in aubergine wool curtains. So I definitely wanted some reference to the aubergine, while having a less 'shouty' colour overall. There are Crittal doors leading into this room (with that hint of dark blue-violet in the metal) and also some architectural blue steel on the fireplace (not shown), which informed the choice of greyish blue. The curtains and sofa are the stoney green-grey as mentioned above and the mustard yellow chairs, throw etc. are there to 'complete' the triad.

In other rooms, pale pink took the lead, or yellow ochre played a more dominant role. However, every room has some kind of visual link to its surroundings, be it in a fabric pattern, a lampshade, or a diluted or intensified version of the main colour references.

Triadic colour schemes can be challenging to balance well, and sound in theory as though they'd be overwhelming, but for clients and followers who are looking for impact and cohesion, I'd suggest this approach is well worth considering, to give you enough options to play with across an entire house.

Too much theory to get your head round? If you need help, drop me a line via my contact page!