Inspiration for your decor colour palette

Inspiration for your decor colour palette

Floral print inspired colour palette1

Forget that green and orange combo

Nothing seems more daunting once you’ve decided to put some decorating effort into your living space than not knowing where to start. Right? It doesn’t get any easier when you go online seeking guidance and all you find is jargon on the colour wheel and tales of analogous colours and their cousin complementary colours. All this makes a seemingly simple task look like rocket science.

Out of despair, the only sane thing to do, save from throwing colour everywhere hoping something sticks, is seeking professional guidance. Kenya isn’t short of interior designers. They’re everywhere. They’re talented, very. The only issue I have with them is that they seem to have one rule which they follow with their lives; Paint everything Green and orange! Seriously! This seems to be the only colour palette permissible in Kenya and quite frankly it’s grown old.

I had previously shared a simple way to pick your wall colour and in this post I take you step by step through the method I used to pick my colour scheme right from the start.How to pick your wall colour


If you already have this Orange green combo in your space and you’re happy with it then good for you. It’s your space, you live there and you should do you. But if you’ve grown tired of this menacing colour scheme and would like to break free or if you would just like some ideas on how to pick a colour scheme that works then this post might be a good place to start.

While I find this method the easiest way to get over the hurdle of picking your decor colours, this is just one way not the only way, this is just a method that I developed in practice and from hours and hours spent on Pinterest.

The ‘secret’ here is to base your interior design colour palette off a single multi coloured item in your space. You will need to have this piece before any other step as it would be harder to pick random colours then expect to find an item that would have these colours already.

This piece is generally called the ‘Lead piece’. This is a term I picked up from this decor post as I did my decorating research. Your lead piece could be either of the following:

  • Throw pillow
  • Area rug
  • Wall art
  • Curtain fabric
  • Wall paper

For my lead piece I went shopping around for fabric that brought out what I had in mind. I found this fabric at Tile and Carpet and fell in love. I got half a meter and made two lumbar pillows with it. These pillows became my lead.How to pick your colour scheme 1

When shopping around for your lead piece keep the following in mind:

  • Your favourite colour

If you don’t love the colours you put in your space then you won’t enjoy living in it. You need to pick a lead that makes you feel good when you look at it. In my case, green is a favourite and my lead piece here had generous shades of green.

There are about three shades of green in my lead but with slight tonal variation.

  • Pre-existing colours in your space

In an ideal situation, the lead would be your first buy and then you would base every single item off of it. However, in most cases this comes a little later when some colour commitments have been made. In my case I already had a black couch and a black and white carpet that I was not about to part with.

In my lead I needed some dark colour to tie this in and luckily there were some deep, dark colours that came close.

  • The mood you intend to create

What words would you use to describe to the space that you are designing for? In my case, I wanted a relaxing space that felt cosy and serene. I would need cool colours to achieve this. My lead had cool greens, blues and purples that would evoke the mood I was trying to create.

The 60-30-10 % Rule

With the lead piece and your range of colours sorted, it’s time to apply these colours to your space. I found that the 60-30-10 rule helped me pick out which of the colours best suited the different components of my space.

  • The Dominant colour (60%)

This corresponds to the component that takes up 60% of the visual space. It serves as your backdrop and would be the anchor for all the other components in the space.

This colour would be a neutral shade applied to the walls and may or may not include your curtains and sometimes the background of your built-ins.

From my lead, colours 1 & 2 made up my Dominant colours. They worked well together because of the very little contrast between them. These are the colours on my walls and draperies in this space.

How to pick your colour scheme 2

  • The Secondary colour (30%)

This colour is used approximately half as much as the dominant colour. It contrasts the dominant colour in a way that creates visual interest.

Applications for this colour include the curtains, the upholstery of your couches and accent chairs, the area rug, painted furniture in the room or your accent wall.

The secondary colours in my space were the dark colours 3 & 4. My pitch black couch and my carpet fell in this category. Later on I plan to bring in a repainted trolley that’s going to be as close to colour 4 as possible. From the crown colour app I would need to paint it in the colour Full wine.. yum

How to pick your colour scheme 3

  • The accent colour (10%)

You know a decorating project is never complete without a few accent pieces to bring in that pop of colour. These fall in this category. They are used sparingly across the space to tie everything in and give a finished look.

Your accent pieces could include throw pillows, throw blankets, Décor accessories, lamps and lamp shades, wall art, African baskets etc…

Different patterns and textures add visual appeal when applying this colour.

My accent colours were colours 5 & 6. I used them in my pillows and will also incorporate them into my accessories as I make progress in decorating my space.

How to pick your colour scheme 4

  • 110%

There is a rule in decorating called the three colour rule. This rule requires the use of only three colours in the 60-30-10 rule, obviously I didn’t follow that rule. I doubled the colours from 3 to 6 and without apologies at that.

They said rules were made to be broken.

In my case, 100% wasn’t enough so I went on and included an extra colour in my colour palette. This colour was pre-existing in the space but I didn’t like it enough to want to match anything else to it although it featured in my lead. It’s the colour painted on my accent wall and I’m toying with the idea of painting over it.

Floral print inspired colour palette1

I will share the progress of this decorating project as I go along. In the meantime I would like to know how your project is going. You can write to me and we can bounce ideas off each other as we go along, sounds good?


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Leave a comment below and let me know if you would use this method to pick out your interior design colours. What would you do different?

As Always



  1. Nyambura kioi :

    Simple, to the point yet such a good flow…. Thankyou for getting the age old question of where colour inspiration that holds everything together will come from…..

  2. So much to glean from this post!
    I totally agree with you on the limited use of colours by local interior designers. No I am not one-but I have seen quite a bit to form my own judgement:) I certainly agree we can explore other ‘lands’ and still end up with a great looking space. Pinterest helps a lot with this. Though I need help with it..I don’t know where the time goes when I am browsing.

    I can’t wait to see the rest of your space, looking good so far!



    • Thank you Mercy. I’m with you on pinterest. It’s great for inspiration although it’s difficult to control the amount of time we spend on it.. Lol.
      Our designers have come a long way but they also have a long way to go, let’s wisg them well.. ☺☺

  3. Glad to know I am not the only one struggling with the green and orange color scheme, it’s so monotonous and there are a couple of options to play with. Interesting, straight to the point ideas

    • Thank you Muthoni.. This orange and green combo has been abused enough. Hopefully this will change soon ☺☺

  4. Awesome! I love the colour mix and the fact it is pastel is also so nice! Keep it up!

  5. Loving the look…cannot wait to see the final look all put together. Yes the green and orange make me wonder if it is the clients who ask for that or it comes ‘highly recommended’….definitely time to flip the script!
    Pinterest and the crown color app are awesome…i used that to do the colors in this room…where i avoided the green and orange….

  6. Love the sofa because its so easy to accessorize with colorful throw pillows. The rug is also gorgeous!!! I also love your blog!

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