We’re preparing to paint the interior walls and I’m researching colour and colour theory. Here are notes ‘from the field’.

Colour in a home is fundamental. It sets the tone and the feel of each room. Colour provides the undertone and ties all the elements of the space together.

Getting Started

  • create a list of key elements in the room- flooring, wainscoting, rugs, large furniture.
  • reflect on the purpose of the room and how you would like to feel in it; retreating and calm? energized and lively?
  • list colours that you are naturally attracted to- warms, nuetrals, cools?
  • gather colour swatches and images from books, magazines and websites. list places and things that are inspiring to you- mountains, beaches, flowers, Buddhism.

Palette Creation

  • after collecting ideas , examine them. notice colour preferences and design elements. play with them and group them together.


  • bring colour samples together in the actual room where they will be used (have you ever had the experience of loving a colour at the store , then feeling disappointed when it’s on the wall?) This allows you to consider your choices with the existing elements and your lighting.

The Dynamics of Light and Colour

  • Light quality (direct sunlight, indirect sunlight, artificial light) changes your perception of a colour. The colours most affected by light are ; tans, taupe’s, greys, greyed blues, mauve’s,  lilacs, and greyed yellow greens.


  • Direct Sunlight: Traditionally considered to be ideal, natural sunlight maintains a neutral balance between the two ends of the light spectrum- cool (bluish) and warm (yellowish). Light from a southern exposure is most intense, while light from the north is most cool.
  • Indirect Sunlight: Natural light is changeable throughout the day- sunrise to sunset- and through the seasons. The colours in a room shift depending on the light movement.
  • Artificial Light: Incandescent and Halogen lights warm a room by enhancing the red and yellow cast. Fluorescent lights have a cooling effect because they enhance blues and greens while muting reds and yellows.

 Warm Colours -reds, oranges, yellows,

can advance or condense a room.

The theme is intimate and cozy.

Cool Colours- greens, blues, violets,

can recede or expand a room.

The theme is calming and open.


Colour Wheel

You (or we)  probably wouldn’t choose the primary colours in a colour wheel to paint the walls of a mandala , but it’s useful to understand the principles of the colour wheel in order to create a colour scheme that will give the desired look and feel of the space.

The 12 colours of a standard wheel are divided into 3 categories:

A Useful Colour Wheel

Primary Colours– pure red, blue and yellow.

Secondary Colours– a combination of two primary colours- orange (red + yellow), green (yellow + blue), and violet (blue + red).

Tertiary Colours– combination of a primary and a secondary colour, i.e. red-orange, yellow-orange,yellow-green,blue-green,blue-violet, and red-violet.

Colour Schemes

Helpful guidelines that you can use to create the look and feel that you desire for your home, colour schemes are combinations or pairings of colours.

Monochromatic: A colour scheme that uses tints and shades of the same colour. It can be subtle when using a soft colour, dramatic when opting for a rich colour.

Complementary: A colour scheme that includes two colours opposite each other on the colour wheel.It can be pleasing to the eye.

Analogous: A colour scheme that uses adjacent colours on the colour wheel. Tip: It creates a pleasing palette to place one colour more prominently than the other two.

Triad: This colour scheme includes any three colours equally spaced on the colour wheel. Tip: Use colours in varied proportions-one dominant colour, a secondary hue, than an accent colour for pop. This is a dramatic choice.

Nature’s colour tones enhance the natural shape of the space.

Tip: Colors should ideally flow from room to room. Adjacent rooms can often be seen from open doors, so the color schemes should blend.

I’m enjoying learning , thinking about and playing with colour ideas for our Mandala. Next, I’ll post about options for type of  finish and -of course- some options for non-VOC and natural paints.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with colour , painting, natural paints , etc.