Decorating with accent colours

When it comes to choosing a colour scheme for a room, take a tip from the professionals. Interior designers reckon the simplest way to create a harmonious scheme is by staying neutral. Start with a blank canvas of one or two muted shades then liven it up with a bright accent colour.

Decorating with accent colours

Adding accents to your colour scheme

How to choose an accent colour
Keep accent colours for smaller items. It is far easier and cheaper to buy new cushions than a new sofa when fashions change. Then, with walls, floor, ceiling and upholstery stick to neutral shades, so you can go to town with a jazzy accent colour that will make a dramatic contrast and bring your whole room to life. As a starting point, pick out a vibrant hue you love from a favourite artwork, fabric or wallpaper then go shopping! For more general advice, visit our colour schemes section.

Consider colour properties
Think about how different colours make you feel. Apple green curtains will bring a fresh outdoorsy feel to a living room while a collection of orange pictures will stimulate creativity in a home office. Acid brights or primary shades can be hard to live with but ideal for spaces that aren’t used very often such as formal dining rooms. Here, try a scarlet table runner and napkins, while bedrooms can be glammed up with teal against a soft cream and silver backdrop. For more advice read our article, how colour schemes affect mood

Make an impact with colour
Less is usually more when using accents; it’s easier to make an impact by focusing blocks of colour on one or two areas of the room such as a fireplace, rather than little dots all over the place. A simple arrangement of vases in purple glass on a mantelpiece will look stunning. Your accent colour will be even more effective if you look for unusual shapes and group similar items together. Groups of threes work particularly well.

Shape and texture
Accents don’t have to be plain block colours. In fact patterns are very fashionable at the moment, and the more, the merrier. Forget the old style rule of sticking to one pattern per room. These days, almost anything goes as long as the colourway remains constant. Try mixing a spotted blind, stripy cushions and a graphic floral rug for a contemporary feel. Look out too for accessories in different shapes, textures and materials to add interest to your room. For more advice read our article, adding personality with accessories

Make a feature wall
You could use your accent colour in paint or wallpaper behind shelves or in alcoves but why not go even further with an entire feature wall? Currently an important style trend, a feature wall will give any room an eye-catching focal point. For maximum impact, make the feature wall the first wall you see when you enter the room. Interior designers always do this when dressing a show home to sell. We have loads of inspirational advice on feature walls, including these galleries living room feature walls and bedroom feature walls , which you may find useful.

Get creative
Adding accents doesn’t have to mean buying new all the time. If you’re strapped for cash or can’t find accessories in your chosen shade, get creative! Beg or borrow a sewing machine to update curtains with the latest trim, or stitch ribbon or buttons onto cushions. Why not buy a small amount of fabric in your accent colour and frame it on the wall or do the same with designer wallpaper? Or you could jazz up wooden picture frames using tester paint, or customise an old fridge with spray paint.

Give your kitchen a fashionable edge by dyeing old tea towels in the latest colour block shades of zingy yellow or vibrant cerise. Why not read our guide how to shop vintage for more tips. Or, if you’re feeling really creative, visit our craft section for inspirational ideas on making or up-cycling your own accent colourer accessories.