A Beginner’s Guide to Clashing Colours in Interior Design

For a beginner, deciding to implement an interior design theme is an almighty step; and one that should be commended (so pat on the back for you!) However, if you’ve decided to try your hand at clashing colours, then you are jumping into the deep end.

Fear not, learning to, and successfully implementing, a clashing colours interior design theme isn’t as difficult as it looks, or sounds. There are, of course, a few fashion laws that must be abided, and like most things, your research should be the backbone of every decision.

clashing blue and yellow bathroom accessories John Lewis
[Photo Credit]

The Starting Block:

These are just a couple of pointers to bear in mind for any DIY endeavour, redecoration or home improvement project.

  • Quality over Quantity.

Okay, so we all love to grab a bargain, but as I said earlier DO YOUR RESEARCH. Bargains do exist, but 9 times out of 10 there’s a reason why it’s cheap or discounted. And you can bet the money you’re saving that it’s because of the quality of the item, which will soon need replacing and end up costing you more.

  • What’s your Style?

So, we know that you want to try your hand at clashing colours, but that’s just the colour palette – you need to consider your style. Do you like vintage, industrial, traditional, country, luxury, homely, etc. etc. the options are endless (and so your decisions it can seem sometimes). You should start with the style first and then pick the clashing theme.

  • Budget, Budget, Budget!

It’s so easy to get caught up when you’re in a store and finally in front of something that you like with a pushing sales person that’s feeding your ego with “oh yeah, it does look very you”. Set your budget and stick to it; if you overspend you’ll be eating Rice Krispies for dinner for a month (in an expertly styled clashing colours themed room though).

What are Clashing Colours?

clashing colours bedroom
[Photo Credit]
It may seem arbitrary, but you can’t successfully implement something if you don’t know what it is. What are clashing colours? If you can’t explain it in one succinct sentence, then read on.

People seem to confuse clashing colours with opposite colours (just because they’re opposites doesn’t mean they don’t complement) or analogous colours (next to each other on the colour wheel). For more information on colour, relationships check out this.

When in fact, colours that clash are those that have unrelated colour properties or resonance. So, rather than the colour itself, we’re talking about the intensity or the undertone.

If you’re not sure how to categorise a colour, it’s quite simple. Rather than trying to memorise different colours and their properties, simply look at the piece of furniture and describe it to a friend – you’ll find yourself naturally using words like “warm, cool, vibrant, dull, pale, pastel” at which point you’ll then be able to categorise the piece. Once you’re able to categorise the colour you’ll be able to pick out a colour that’s in a different category.

Clashing Colours: the Basics

Now you know what clashing colours are, we can work out how to use them within your interior design theme.

  • If you want to clash colours based on intensity, you should pair smoky muted tones with bright ones, as their intensity will offset each other.
  • If you’d like to clash colours based on their undertone, then you’ll need to pair warm colours with cool ones.

How to Clash Colours:

blue and green clashing colours
[Photo Credit]

Blue and green should never be seen, the old saying goes – but like most old wife’s tales, it’s hogwash. Strong colours can live in hue harmony (intensity/undertone); so the trick to clashing colours is to use different shades of the two colours you’re using.

The best way to achieve this is by focusing on the accessories (it can be difficult to make judgement calls on big items like sofas/and it’s a costlier mistake). For instance, deck out the cushions and lamps in different shades of green, while the rug, blanket and coffee table coasters could be different shades of blue – does that make sense?

Once you’ve got the hang of it with smaller home décor items, you’ll feel more confident to move onto bigger changes like wallpaper and curtains; one step at a time, right?

The Three Commandments

#1: Clash tones, not colours

#2: Focus on accessories

#3: Start small (count the pennies and the pounds will follow philosophy)

Though not a commandment, we strongly recommend using white or cream as a base colour, such as, for the walls. A neutral base colour will help your other, more carefully chosen pieces to truly pop and come to life, likewise, it’ll help the room feel like busy (all that colour will make for a very visually noisy room).

It’s also important to consider the intended use of the room when choosing your colours, as colours come with pre-set moods. Red, for instance, is very passionate and would be out of place in restful rooms like the boudoir, likewise, green is the most neutral of colours so is ideal for living rooms that need to both invigorate sometimes and also calm.

However, above all of this clashing colours is meant to be fun, so play around and create a room that’s totally unique to you and your style!

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