Let Colour Be Your Friend

04 Oct Let Colour Be Your Friend

Recently, I attended my eldest daughter’s ballet “watching day” class.  If watching a gathering of seven year olds wasn’t delicious enough, I heard one child say “I made a mistake!”  A gentle, reassuring touch on the shoulder by another child said, “don’t worry, mistakes are your friend”. I loved it! The other parents loved it! And I’m sure the parent of the child who actually said it, would never have been prouder.

Now-days schools are big on teaching children to “take risks”. Indeed it is a strong part of the teaching philosophy. All too often as adults, we lack this risk-taking ability. We opt for a path that is safe. A path successfully followed by others or indeed, we may not even travel down any path at all.

When asked, most people will opt for a safe neutral palette for their interior colour scheme. Many will say they are afraid of choosing colours in fear of choosing the wrong colour scheme or something they will easily tire of. The reality is that colour is everywhere around us. It is in nature, it is in our closet reflected in the clothes that we wear and it is in our homes already – the rich tones in the timber floorboards that attracted us to our home in the first place, that cushion we just had to buy whilst on vacation.  It’s endless. Even those Grandma-looking curtains that we hate take us one step closer to choosing colours that we actually love!

For those not confident to experiment with combining colours or groups of colours, start with this very simple strategy. Look to nature! Nature never gets it wrong. Nature always feels serene and nature always seems to have just the perfect balance of…well… everything. Ever noticed how the different nuances of green in trees hits the blue sky and chocolate coloured earth? Mix in some white clouds, a bright coloured sun and a sparkling (read: metallic) stream. BAMM. There’s a colour scheme!

Other combinations to get you thinking: an angry sky over an ocean beach; the fishing villages of the Cinque Terre; the early winter tones of that road trip in June.


Inspiration may not always arrive to you in the form of travel. Try looking at the flowers you recently received for your birthday or that brightly coloured shell you’ve always treasured…


Even the thought of combining the attributes of your “best friend” can sometimes provide the basis for a colour scheme that is warm and inviting…or what about that trip to Africa that you’ve dreamed of taking?


The great outdoors need not be your only starting point. Inspiration truly is everywhere! Try looking more deeply at the beautiful foods that we eat…


A vintage piece of furniture or rug can easily become the focal point of any room. Maybe it’s an heirloom piece or artwork that you just can’t part with. It exists to remind you of your origins. Any of these precious items can be used to extract colour and create a unique colour scheme. Hopefully you are now starting to get ideas of your own…


Of course, there are many other elements to the theory of colour.  People choose colour for all sorts of reasons such as:

personality – eg outgoing types are attracted to red, feminine types to pale pink  (by contrast fuchsia pink is considered sexy);

a prior experience with a colour – either positive or negative;

cultural influences – different cultures have different meanings for colour eg in China white is for mourning;

psychological response to colour – eg a pale blue room may feel cold but instantly feels warmer when the same space is painted a warm orange colour; or

physiological response to colour – eg red can be arousing so is an appropriate accent for areas where there is physical activity such as playrooms or kitchens  but might not be appropriate in a study, office or child’s bedroom.

Alternatively, colour can be used to create a spatial illusion to:

  • make a room appear larger or smaller;
  • make a feature wall look closer or further away;
  • raise or lower a ceiling; or
  • orientate a room.

Two days after my seven year old’s ballet class, I watched my youngest daughter at her ballet “watching day”.  The three year old class was a whole different experience. By contrast those participating did just what they felt and loved every minute of it. Their expressions came directly from the heart and it looked absolutely gorgeous.  The feeling was relaxed and playful. A little rough around the edges for sure but it was interesting, fluid and organic.

Experimenting with colour is just like that three year old ballet class….have fun, express yourself, be creative and it’s highly likely that you’ll give others something really interesting to look at and an experience to behold.  Take a risk and “let colour be your friend!”

Featured images courtesy of www.design-seeds.com via Pinterest

About Linda Delaney and North Shore Interiors

Linda Delaney is the owner and manager of North Shore Interiors, a company that provides interior design, decorating, styling and project management services to Sydney’s lower north shore and greater Sydney metropolitan area.

Linda has been seen in Habitus, Inside Out, Grand Designs Australia and Money magazines. She is also a regular contributor for leading Australian interior design publications, Home Design and the annual Design & Decoration. Watch out for more of Linda’s work featured in the media.

Contact Linda at  Linda@nsinteriors.com.au or on 0432 716 558.