6 Interior Colour Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


Before committing an interior decorating crime, here’s the list of six colour-picking errors you need to be aware of (and avoid like the plague).

Colour can be a tricky thing to master. One minute you’re in love with the sample card in your hand, the next you’re looking at your walls thinking, “What have I done?!”

There are some common mistakes that ruin the whole picture you’d envisioned. Luckily, they are also solvable.

Here are the six errors you need to avoid before you begin your interior decorating journey (and their fixes if you’re already guilty of them!).

Mistake #1: Making your palette too matchy-matchy

If you’ve got your heart set on a particular colour, great. You’ve knocked the hard bit out of the park.

Now that you’ve got your hue, you need to understand the beauty of tints and shades – not everything should be that specific colour.

rapee - element cushion 6 Interior Colour Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
These assorted cushions from Rapee blend together well with deliberately different tones of orange and coral.

Solution: Don’t look on the same colour spectrum for everything (seriously, tone down the OTT)

When you’re shopping, resist the urge to buy the cushions, throws, rug, armchair, table lamp, and sofa in that wonderful magenta pink.

No matter how convinced you are that two pinks, blues, oranges are the same, they’re most likely not. The slight differences will really show as you put your room together.

Avoid the tacky look and opt for deliberate shades (darker) and tones (lighter) of your selected hue. You want your look to blend together well, which means relaxing the actual amount of the colour you’re using. You want the eye to be pleasantly surprised, not blinded!

Mistake #2: Not having enough accent colours to bounce off your primary one

It might seem like not having enough accent colours would strike the solution of just adding more accent colours. Yes, but no.

This coastal-inspired dining room makes the artwork the focal point of the room, complemented by furniture with an accent white-and-wood palette. Rise & Shine Framed Print available online at Zanui.

Solution: Establish a focal point in the room

If you don’t have enough accent or secondary colours in your space, it’s often because you haven’t established a focal point in the room. Know exactly where you want to draw attention, and you’ll effortlessly know where to place your accents.

A coastal-themed dining room can be a mirage of aqua, turquoise and deep cobalt. But where is the attention intentionally being drawn? Is it the wall art? The centrepiece? The dining chairs?

Establishing the “eye-catcher” will help locate how to balance out the rest of the space with sand, beige and natural hues. Always stick to the secondary colours of a theme. It won’t fail you!

Mistake #3: Playing it ‘safe’ (otherwise known as ‘dull’)

If the wall of endless colour options at your paint retail store gives you anxiety, you’re not alone.

However, you may end up falling victim to picking a very bland colour and inviting your guests into what has the vibes of a three-star motel.

urban-road-251831-367280 dauntless cushion
Decor accessories such as cushions, artworks and lighting are a good way to introduce colour into your space and are easy to switch up as the seasons change. The green in this space takes it from dull to divine. Out on a Limb Canvas Print from Urban Road, available online at Zanui.

Solution: Search for an inspirational bold palette and take the leap of faith

We’re not saying you should blast your walls with fire engine red – by all means, avoid the too bright colours! What you should do is research.

Flip through glossy magazines, paste together mood boards and scroll through Pinterest till you find something that makes your heart flutter. Nothing less.

Whether it’s emerald green, pastel lilac or even monochromes, ensure that your look is bold and has a statement. You want your colour choice to have an impact. Whether the impact is laid-back casual, elegant and feminine, or broody and handsome – it’s all up to you!

Mistake #4: Not considering your light exposure

Unlike Cyndi Lauper, eyes can’t see true colours shining through until we draw back the blinds, open up the windows and watch the shadows rise after sunset.

What might look like a phenomenal colour in a showroom will most probably look completely different in your own space. Not better or worse, just different.

Opening up windows dramatically changes the aura of your space. The Rumi Quilt Cover Set subtly adds colour to a naturally-lit room without being overwhelming.

Solution: Try a sample of paint on your wall

Each room’s light exposure is totally unique and reliant on a number of factors. From what light bulbs you have to where your room is facing to having a window at all will totally alter the visual appearance of your colour choice.

Before committing to the whole change, ask for a sample pot of paint for your wall and give it a go. Monitor how it looks with the windows open, curtains closed and throughout different times of the day.

You might even want to consider the colour of your light bulbs. They are easiest and cheapest to switch out after all!

Mistake #5: Painting walls before picking furniture

Furniture is much harder to fall in love with. It’s a bigger decision, longer commitment and there are many factors to consider.

While shopping, you’ll find that fabric swatches, timber finishes and colour options are limited. Paint, on the other hand, will always have a limitless variety of choices to suit any interior.

kas - miconia European Pillow case 6 Interior Colour Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
A stunningly bold choice of wall paint complementing the Miconia Quilt Cover Set from KAS, available online at Zanui.

Solution:  Look at colour charts after deciding on a setting

It’s a lot more difficult matching a sofa to an already-painted wall than it is simply getting the paint one shade darker and perfectly suited.

It’s a simple choice, but trust us on this one and put the paintbrush down and get your furniture set!

Mistake #6: Not considering the colour of your flooring

The world is your oyster, but it’s also important to stay grounded. Literally.

Look at your flooring, does it limit your colour options? It definitely will impact your overall look.

amigos-de-hoy sea digitally printed rug 6 Interior Colour Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Switch up the look of your flooring with luxuriously patterned rugs. Sea Digitally Printed Rug from Amigos De Hoy, available online at Zanui.

Solution: Embrace your flooring or invest in some style underfoot

Flooring can be expensive to replace, so if that’s out of the question, you still have two more options! First, embrace your flooring.

If your hardwood floors are a darker finish, work with contrasting accent colours to bring out its richness. If your tiles are light, bounce some statement hues off your adjacent walls.

If your flooring is a little on the been-there-done-that side, and you’re yearning for a palette that really doesn’t work with your current floors, invest in coordinated floor accents…

Rugs, rugs, rugs! Floor cushions and bean bags are game changers too, but for the big impact go for an oriental rug, jute rug or hide rug. You can thank us later! 😉

Natalie Milad is a content and blog writer who studied journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney. Since her graduation in 2016, she has landed a gig at Zanui. Her days not writing are usually filled with DIY projects, floury benchtops and tending to her bunny. Natalie loves animated short films, animals and Christmas. She has experience in script writing, news reading and interviewing. Among her favourites was interning for The Bridal Bazaar.