Creating a colour scheme

We’re often asked to develop a colour scheme for a property, in fact it’s something we do quite a bit of these days.  But what exactly is a colour scheme and why is it useful?  We look at some interesting uses of colour in a couple of our favourite North London eateries and explain the technicalities of a colour scheme proposal.

The gold painted ceiling at St John's Tavern here in Archway is one example of bold use of colour.  Light is bounced off the ceiling and then reflected downwards, creating a warm, glowing sun-like light in the dining room. 

photo ©  St John's Tavern , Archway

photo © St John's Tavern, Archway

Another good example of colour use is the low-level colour blocking on the walls at the Bear + Wolf in Tufnell Park. This gives definition to a busy dining space, but allows the interior to feel bright and airy by keeping the colour at eye level bright and white. The grey colour on the lower walls prevents the space from feeling too sparse or clinical. We notice it also draws your eye closer to seating height, inviting you to sit down and unwind.

photo ©  Bear + Wolf , Tufnell Park

photo © Bear + Wolf, Tufnell Park

Before discussing the thought processes and colour theory involved in creating a colour scheme, it would be useful to outline how we communicate the information and why it is useful.


What is in a colour scheme proposal?

A colour scheme proposal is a document we put together after our consultation meeting, containing the paint colours and finishes for each paintable surface in a room. It also shows any wallcoverings involved in the project and where they should be hung.  For example, here is a sample list for a hallway:

  • Main walls: X paint colour in a Y finish
  • Staircase wall (ending at beginning of First Floor landing): wallcovering by Z supplier
  • Staircase (steps / spindles / handrail): X paint colour in a Y finish
  • Woodwork (internal doors / architraves / skirtings): X paint colour in a Y finish
  • Ceiling/Cornice: X paint colour in a Y finish

Below are the colours for a scheme we put together for a Victorian terraced house in Islington.  The clients wanted the front reception room to be a light and airy living room, however wanted to use the rear reception room as a library with deeper, earthy colour tones.


Living Room (Front Reception Room)


Library (Rear Reception Room)


Why is a colour scheme proposal useful?

A colour scheme proposal document is a useful tool for us to agree the selected colours and finishes with our clients. It also serves as a 'shopping list' for ordering paints (either by us, or you, or your decorator), working out quantities and importantly, as a checklist for decorators to follow when carrying out the work on site.

When dealing with whole house redecoration projects, a colour scheme also allows us to test out colours and their relationship to each other within different spaces. This is something we’ll discuss further in an upcoming blog post. 

A colour scheme is particularly handy if you want to create specific atmospheres within your home but aren’t quite sure how to translate these ideas into actual paint colours.  For example, perhaps you would like your bathroom to feel clean and contemporary but not clinical or cold! What combination of colours and materials can create this mood?

We’ve also had numerous clients get in touch over the years for colour scheme advice because they are pressed for time.  With decorators about to start on site, they’ve ran out of headspace to figure out all the paint colours & finishes. So they turn to us to guide them through the decision making process required to get the decorating underway and completed on schedule!

Check out our blog post "What colour do I paint my walls?" which delves deeper into how we interpret and understand colour.

If you're thinking of redecorating or could use advice on paint colours for a new property, take a look at our colour scheme service here.