Colour is a key component in your interior design toolkit. If you are able to tap into what colours you positively respond to and have the confidence to use them, they offer a cost-effective way to make your home more personal. If you are renovating, your money will be spent on base fixtures and fittings in your home regardless, so planning and managing their colours is a smart way to get the most bang for your buck.


We’ve all heard plenty of “rules” when it comes to colour. From my experience, here’s what I know to be true:

Rules-based on what colours mean or how they make you feel can be ignored in favour of your own personal preference. It is absolutely true that colours affect us but not all in the same way. I’ve seen a bright yellow and fresh white room described as creating a cheerful atmosphere and sleek look but for some people, it feels like living in a boiled egg.

The inherent physical properties of colour however – how they can change the appearance of a room or how they appear in relation to each other – are consistent and can be used to help shape the look and feel of your home. Just like a dress or a suit with a good cut and in a beautiful colour can highlight your best physical qualities, thoughtfully chosen colours, well placed in your home, can show off its finest features.

As with all design projects, be clear about your objectives – you are more likely to hit a clear target and all investments will be toward the same intended reward. Who uses the space and when? For what purpose? What mood do you want to create?

France_Fraser- Honour Creative


If you are not sure where to start with a new colour scheme, perhaps you have something you love the colours of – a ceramic, a piece of art or an article of clothing, If so, use it – someone has done the hard work for you! Within that place, you will find not only a combination of colours that resonate with you but also for the colours themselves (the hues) you will have a guide for the particular saturation (intensity of hue) and tone (amount of brightness) that make it work. It is in the subtleties of these components of colour that is magic.

Always look at the colour in the place you plan to use it, with the things you plan to use it with (for example, the colour of the floor and ceiling will reflect on the wall so that the pure white might look a lot more yellow when the timber floors are down.

Match the scale of your colour sample to the finished product. Rather than deciding the colour of a 25sqm room using a 2cm by 3cm colour chip, get at least an A4 drawdown to move around the room or better still, a test pot.

Remember that you don’t experience a room in isolation so consider how colour can be used to create both reassuring consistencies for the whole house and emphasise the distinction between spaces with different purposes.

Lastly, when working on a home or room update, gather a collection of material samples (paint, tiles, timber, fabrics, etc.) and keep them handy as you go about making other choices. Our perception of colour is not only influenced by the colour itself but also by its texture and its context amongst other colours. You can then avoid mistaken memory of a colour and also create the opportunity for finding happy surprises of complimentary or contrasting new materials.

Be brave with colour! Most people instinctively know what they like, but if you’re still not sure (you know that unobtrusive grey that now looks purple), do get expert help.


Check out Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay. Part travelogue, part narrative history, this fascinating book unlocks the history of the colours of the rainbow and reveals how paints came to be invented, discovered, traded and used.

Dulux Colour NZ App allows you to capture colour, visualise spaces and browse their range.

Nature is a bountiful source of inspiration. The online Resene Colour Palette Generator allows you to upload or link to an image and suggests similar paint colours to your picture. How you apply this palette is then of course not limited to paint.

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Article in collaboration with Interior Designer, Frances, Honourcreative

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