The Grand Illusion

Colour Guide

Colour Scheme
Dynamic, calming, soothing, relaxing

Key Textures
Sheer voile, lacquer, velvet, linen, matt finish paint, wool, concrete, chrome


This weeks colour breakdown is an interesting one in that it is layered with optical illusions. To date interiors I’ve deconstructed have all involved a single rooms colour palette; one that is contained. This image shows another space or room leading off. What we require from our interior spaces has changed massively over the years. Some prefer the interior partitioned with a closing door whilst others dream of big open plan living areas. The phrase ‘warehouse living’ gets bandied around by estate agents and developers a little too freely (I could bang on about my thoughts on this but I will save you the pain) but you understand where they’re heading, they are referring to open plan living areas. In terms of colour in these sort of situations one colour is used throughout. This doesn’t have to be the case you can use a creative paint effect- no, not the 80’s sponging type of thing- you could paint graphic lines and shapes directly on the wall, use wall stickers or there may be a the natural line or change in architecture that can be used as a transition between one colour and the next.

It’s important when planning a colour palette to take in the wider issue of the surrounding rooms and how they flow from one to another. As you can see in this image, the colour in the connecting hall has a huge effect on the colour scheme of the sitting room. So if you find yourself in this situation you need to consider this as one space.

Colours are popping up all over the room but white prevails at 46% overall. The cool white bounces the light off the walls and ceiling. This blue base hue, generally used in modern interiors, reinforces the contemporary furnishings and in this context as a result of the natural light it will become bluer at different times. This is due firstly to the light rebounding off the blue furnishings, and secondly because this home is in the northern hemisphere, the colour of the natural light is literally bluer, as well as softer and colder.

The grey floor appears to be darker than it would be in reality as it’s surrounded by white. Or to put it another way, think of how you look when wearing white with a sun tan. The contrast between light and dark makes one darker and vice versa. The mid grey totals 20% overall.

As large as the petrol blue sofa is it only totals 10% of the colour palette. Appearing in velvet, it absorbs the light and adds texture to the space. The velvet is juxtaposed with gloss M&M’s in the centre of the room. With the interior architecture being very clean and linear, the use of velvet adds depth.

At 8% is the dark purple blue in the hall. It draws you in or out depending on were you stand. When white or lightly coloured rooms lead off a corridor or room that is painted much darker you create an optical illusion of the room leading off being lighter and/or larger than it is. Effectively you are achieving the same affect as the white walls and grey floor but using a different method.

An interesting touch is the flesh coloured curtains at 2%. The same colour also appears on the book spines on the shelf. It’s a subtle change in colour that differentiates them from the wall, along with adding texture. Also, and more importantly, this colour puts the emphasis back on the bolder coloured items. It allows them to dominate the room.

Also at 2% is purple which appears, in what I would describe as a pillow, not cushion, on the sofa and the flowers on the shelf. It’s just a dash of colour but it’s a nice inclusion to what is a majority of white along the wall.

Think of black as the quotation marks of the interiors world. The touch of black in the sofa legs, curtain pole, hat rack and picture frame each emphasising their beginning and end. Black also appearing in the artwork- that mirrors the vision of the hall- is visually deep and heavy and counterbalances the depth of colour in the hall. Note though, this works due to this scale of the artwork being proportionally in balance to the weight of the rectangular dark void that is the hall. If you follow me? Black totals 5%.

When you have so much velvet upholstery and you need to start working on your material check-list to see what would counterbalance it. It’s the yin and yang shall we say, and the use of high gloss M&M style occasional tables is a perfect match. The gloss adds a touch of glam whilst their shape is yang to the sofa’s yin- opposites: circle and square. Olive gives depth while the turquoise brightens the space. There is also a hint of the turquoise on the vases on the shelf. Both hues account for 2% each.

My all time favourite reading lamp, is the 1950’s designed Jielde lamp.  I’ve had the money aside for years to buy one but I can not decided on which colour! This chrome vintage version is just as beautiful but hard to find, especially at a good price. Mixing the piece of vintage amongst the new gives a sense of character. Chrome adds 1%.

1% yellow pops out from the other cushions, it’s a splash of freshness and shows that the yellow was only ever intended to be an accent. It wouldn’t have the same impact otherwise.

Also at 1% is the green which can be seen in the artwork. Definitely a different hue to the M&M round stool. It’s in sharp contrast to the black and the white on the wall and angular lines within it highlights the roundness of the stools.

Last but not least is the baby Aubergine coloured table. Not worth a percentage but worth a mention. The dark droplet positioned diagonally across from the rich coloured hall creates a visual balance: a low point to the entrance hall high point.


TIP: Look at a different view points within a room to see what rooms and walls come into view. Note these points on a plan so you are able to see how each rooms colour effects another.

TIP: Try using feather bed pillows instead of normal cushions on sofa’s to accentuate the length. It will open your options for covers available and they are squishier and cosier.

TIP: Material check-list. Light adsorbing materials: velvets, wools, wood, earth ware and paper. Light reflecting materials: silk, glass, metals and gloss paints and lacquers. As the saying goes, everything in moderation!


*The colour on screen is not a true representation of actual colour.