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Why colour contrast is vital in home interior design?

  • Interior Design
Oct 30, 2022
Cream & white colour contrast for this modern living room design - Beautiful Homes

Curious about what contrast has to do with interior décor and design? Wondering how you can use colour contrast to add personality to a slightly boring room? Love a little drama in your space and want that perfect showpiece home you can be proud to show off? If you answered yes to any of those questions, this article is for you!

If you’ve been doing up your home and keep hearing or seeing the terms “contrast” and “colour contrast” at every turn, but aren’t sure what exactly this means and how it applies to interior design, then you’re not alone. As a design principle, contrast can be a little confusing at first glance – Why is it important? How do you properly use colour contrast for living room spaces? Where and when should you use it? Why is it that you mostly only see colour contrast for home walls, and not much about it in other ways? What is the best contrast colour you could use in any given space? And is there such a thing as too much contrast? If any of these questions have occurred to you, then never fear, we’ve got you covered!


Read on as we explore the basics of contrast, give you some contrasting colours examples, and take you through why colour contrast for house interiors is something you should care about.



What is Contrast?

When talking about contrast from the perspective of an interior design principle, what we mean is the use of opposite elements or effects within a single space. When arranged together, contrasting colours or objects will help highlight their opposing features and characteristics, thereby creating a greater, more attractive, visual impact.

The Principle of Contrast:

While we’re mostly talking about colour contrast here, it’s important to think about all the different ways that you can define contrast. Essentially, other than the pretty accessible concept of colour contrast for house interiors, what other types of contrasts can you use in a room to create a truly dynamic and interesting space?


Well, some examples of the types of contrast you can use are:

  • light vs dark colours
  • smooth vs rough textures
  • hard vs soft materials
  • large vs small objects
  • rounded vs angular shapes
  • high gloss vs matte finishes
  • positive vs negative spaces
Monochrome colour contrast for this bedroom interior design - Beautiful Homes


The Importance of Contrast in Interior Design

  • The use of opposing colour and contrast can prevent your room from looking flat and boring – e.g. using pale colours in negative / open spaces and using bright tones and colours in the positive spaces / areas that draw the eye, adds depth and dynamism to the space.
Brown & white colour contrast combinations for the bedroom - Beautiful Homes
  • By picking the best contrast colour for a space, or choosing contrasting elements (like fluffy rugs and cushions, paired with wooden chairs), you can create focal points that attract attention and give the décor of your room a more deliberate feel.

  • If you want to add variety and visual interest to any space, judicious use of contrasting colours can make a major impact – e.g. in an all white room, having pops of a single bright shade, like teal, adds that wow factor.

  • Using high contrast colours or contrasting objects and elements adds drama and personality to an otherwise dull décor scheme.

Making Colour Contrast Work for you

Contrast, regardless of if we’re talking about a basic colour contrast for walls in your home, or a more elaborate mix of objects, elements, textures and colour contrast for room designs, don’t have to be overdone. In fact, a little restraint is a good thing! When designing a material or a colour contrast for living room areas, stick to a more focused use to keep the magic of contrast alive. Pair a simple colour contrast for home walls with a textural contrast; such as using a silk textured wallpaper in cream for three of your walls, contrasted with a painted focus wall in a deep blue; or stick to a mix of material and shape contrasts when doing up your master bath. Avoid walls with colour contrast for room interiors that have a smaller square footage; essential furnishing can become your focus for this design concept instead.


Some of the best ways to explore the use of contrast in your home are:

1. Mixed Textures

As mentioned above, contrasting texture can easily be paired with a colour contrast, or used on its own to create a more subtle effect. Soft furnishings, wallpaper and even the type of tile, or paint you use can all contribute to the textural effects of your room.


2. Play with Materials

In most cases, contrasting materials have an inbuilt element of textural and colour contrast. For room interiors that have an open floor plan, using the same contrasting materials, but different colours can create differentiation with a smoother visual flow.

Black, grey & white colour contrast combinations for the living room - Beautiful Homes

3. Experiment with Shapes

This works well in a smaller room, or if you’re trying to create a focus area in a larger space; colour contrast isn’t your only option, you could create a collage of art prints in frames of different sizes and shapes to create a similar effect.


4. Colours for an Immediate Visual Contrast

The idea of using colour contrast for walls is well-established as it’s not only easy to do, but (in large part due to the scale of such a contrast) can also quickly set the mood for a space.



8 Colour Contrast Ideas to Try

Turquois, grey & white colour contrast for house - Beautiful Homes

1. The Classic: Light vs Dark Colours

This is usually a method where you use two contrast colours or shades that are diametrically opposite in luminance to create your aesthetic. One thing to keep in mind when using a dark vs light colour contrast, is that you could use two tones of the same colour to create the best contrast colour combination for your room. Of course, a black & white colour contrast, for house interiors, is one of the most well loved classic examples of this. Mostly because these are good contrasting colours to use in both large and small spaces, and look great no matter your décor style!

2. Nature Inspired: Contrasting Colour to Green

Most of us find that organic and natural colour tones are some of the most soothing and accessible colours to use in interiors. Finding a good contrasting colour to green is easy when you look at a nature inspired palette. Contrasting colours examples like green and lavender are relaxing to the eye, while blue and green are evocative of a waterscape. Most nature inspired contrasting colours, especially when paired with different shades of green, can bestow happy or calm vibes to a room and are good contrasting colours for bedrooms and other private spaces.


3. Negative Space: White Contrast Colour

The best contrast colour if you are looking at a small or narrow room, white reflects the natural light adding to the feeling of airiness and space. When paired with white, contrast colour options are truly infinite. This is in part because the classics, white and black, serve as base neutrals that can enhance and play off a wide range of contrasting colours from both the cool and warm slides of the colour wheel. If you are embracing colour contrast for home walls, consider using white for a ceiling or as a base hue, to give your eye a space to rest. Acting as the foil to your accent shade, white can also help balance two contrast colours for a more harmonious and balanced effect.

4. Simplistic Pairs: 2 Contrasting Colours

It is more common to use a set of 2 contrasting colours within home décor, particularly when we’re talking about a colour contrast for walls – the concept of an accent wall is one of the most popular forms of this. When choosing two contrast colours, it’s not essential to pick colours that sit on opposite sides of the colour wheel, but many trends do favour a blend of warm and cool tones; pairings like moss green and lavender, or charcoal and cream have been wellbeloved examples of colour contrast for house interiors for decades. When it comes to colour contrast for living room spaces, try using a lighter hue as your primary colour, with a contrasting, brighter or darker hue as a way to create focal points or accents.

Light & dark contrasting colours for the home's colour combination - Beautiful Homes

5. Complementary Palette: 3 Contrasting Colours

Unlike using two contrast colours – which, when used as colour contrast for home walls, can provide a neutral foil for the rest of your décor choices – when you use 3 contrasting colours within a single space, those colours become the highlight and main focus of the room. Colour contrast palettes should be chosen with care, and picking two similar and one complementary hue is generally recommended here. Shades like white and silver (similar cool tones), paired with navy blue (complementary) create a gentle and relaxed atmosphere, while the combination of grey (complementary), plum and brown (similar warm tones), when used across furnishing, linens and as a colour contrast for walls in a bedroom, can make the room feel like a cosy retreat.


6. Tone on Tone: Low Contrast Colours

A design scheme using low contrast colours is the happy medium between quiet minimalism and bold high contrast spaces. Hues that are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel make good contrasting colours for interiors in this style. An ultra low-contrast scheme might use a light colour contrast of tones, and shades of a single primary colour. For a Rustic or Farmhouse home, earth tones, wood hues, and autumnal shades inspired by nature, lend themselves naturally to a low colour contrast for house interiors. Blue and green, from the cooler side of the colour wheel, can be mixed with more accessible colours like white to give off a light, seaside vibe.

White & brick stoned rustic two contrasting colours for the home - Beautiful Homes

7. Bring the Drama: High Contrast Colours

High contrast colours are combinations like black and gold, white and burgundy or even warm wood tones with bright blues. Regardless of room, colour contrast combinations like these can make a dramatic, powerful impact. Unlike with low contrast colours, where equal amounts of each might work, here you need a primary hue while the other serves as an accent. If you are working with 3 contrasting colours, follow the 60-30-10 rule where your main is used in 60% of the space, your secondary colour in 30%, and your accent colour in 10%. If you want to explore high colour contrast for home walls, try colour blocking or highlight an architectural element for dynamic effect.


8. Sophisticated POP: Magenta Contrast Colour

Bold and energetic, magenta is a wonderful choice if paired with good contrasting colours and balanced with care. As discussed above, dramatic magenta contrast colour schemes should preferably follow the 60-30-10 rule for a fun but livable space. For example, to create colour contrast for room designs with large pieces of furniture, or as a colour contrast for walls that are painted a soft grey, use deep teal and magenta cushions or a magenta accent chair for a pop of colour. And while a magenta focus wall might seem intimidating to try in your room, colour contrast means that you could balance the final effect, perhaps using warm beige and soft coral for a luxurious bohemian vibe.


If you’re all fired up to create a visually stunning home with the perfect balance of colour and contrast, but are still not 100% sure where to start, that’s where we come in!



At Beautiful Homes Service by Asian Paints, what we’re best at is partnering with you to craft the home of your dreams. If you’re eager to get started on creating that perfect haven we’re here for all your design & renovation needs – you can even source the latest décor styles with our curated collection – reach out or find one of our state-of-the-art stores near you.

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