15 Best colour combinations – what colours go well together in any room

Step away from white and bring colour to your rooms with good colour combinations
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • Knowing what colours go well together can be tricky to get right, so it’s no wonder that many of us simply play it safe. But some of the best colour combinations can come from those unexpected pairings that seem to break the rules, but actually look wonderful together.

    Make the struggle of choosing colours easier, by taking a look at the trusty colour wheel. There are three key colour combinations that are guaranteed to work together. A ‘tonal’ scheme is the simplest, as it includes only different tones of the same colour, going from light to dark. A ‘harmonious’ scheme uses shades that sit next to each other on the wheel, such as blue and green, and is a simple way of creating an easy-to-live with look.

    Then lastly, there’s the ‘contrasting’ scheme, which is the most vibrant of the three paint ideas. Contrasting schemes are based on two colours that sit directly opposite each other on the wheel, such as yellow and purple. Often referred to as complementary colours, these pairings are guaranteed to add drama to any room.

    15 of the Best colour combinations in 2022

    ‘As a nation, we are all getting braver with colour and much more creative with it too,’ says Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux. ‘One colour on our walls just isn’t enough any more. And the wonderful thing about paint is that the results you get from it are instant and so new trends appear almost instantly.’

    So whether you prefer a calm, tonal scheme, a relaxed, harmonious interior or a dramatic contrast colour pairing, find your favourite from these winning colour combinations.

    1. Mix neapolitan colours for an uplifting look

    pale green and blue striped walls in livig room with white wofa

    Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore

    Clean, fresh pastels like mint green and cool blue will create an upbeat, mood-boosting feel used as a background colour. Keep larger pieces of furniture neutral in off-white and biscuit tones so that colours don’t fight for attention. Add heat by mixing in warmer ice cream tones here and there, such as soft rose pink and sunny yellow.

    Try a creative living room paint idea to combine the colours with real impact. ‘Create a colour-block wall of uplifting blues and greens by dividing the area with an off-centre stripe of white,’ says Ideal Home’s Decorating Editor, Nicky Phillips.

    2. Make a statement with warm ochre and smart navy

    yellow office wall with navy stripe

    Image credit: Fenwick & Tilbrook

    Create a warm and comforting scheme for your WFH space using warm neutrals and earthy tones that will settle the mood without proving a distraction.

    ‘Using complementary colours from opposite ends of the colour wheel can make a lovely statement such as this strong blue and warm yellow,’ says Anna Hill, Brand Director for Fenwick & Tilbrook. ‘Alternatively, using different tones of the same colour, such as pink, or neighbouring colours on the colour wheel is a softer way to use bold colours that can feel more relaxing on the eye.’

    3. Contrast lush green and orange for standout style

    green painted living room with neutral sofa and orange cushion

    Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore

    Green is a dynamic but refreshing colour that can make a relaxing backdrop for a living room. Grey furniture and flooring will bring calm to a bold scheme like this, but it’s the accent details that will bring it to life, from burnt orange and tan leather on cushions and upholstery to flashes of gold and copper on accessories.

    ‘Use a shade of green this dark on one or two walls only – or in a room with big French doors that fill it with light,’ says Ideal Home’s Decorating Editor, Nicky Phillips.

    4. Swirl dusky pinks and berry shades for a chic scheme

    pink and purple swirl wall mural in hallway

    Image credit: Crown

    Though it may be loved by little girls, pink is a versatile colour that can work in any space…not just bedrooms. Try dusky pink in a hallway teamed with swirls of raspberry and damson for a grown-up look that is anything but saccharine. Or balance masculine and feminine, by pairing blush pink with accents of dark grey and black to add an edgy element.

    “It’s always interesting to see what the latest colour combinations are for the coming year,’ says Justyna Korczynska, Senior Designer at Crown. ‘Look at magazines, social media and blogs for inspiration and to see new trends and what colours you are naturally attracted to.’

    ‘People are becoming much braver with their painting skills, often creating impressive designs and effects with different colour combinations.’

    5. Set a soothing tone with calming neutrals

    beige and brown bedroom with pale pink velvet headboard

    Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore

    Warm, earth-toned colours will make any space feel cosy and inviting, so a tonal neutral palette like this is perfect for a soothing bedroom scheme. Take a statement headboard to the next level by continuing a painted area behind the bed onto the ceiling, to create an extra-cocooning feel.

    ‘To achieve a chic and contemporary scheme, style pale and earthy browns with coral and salmon pinks. Finish with accessories in a bolder colour, such as ochre or burgundy, depending on the tone of pink you choose,’ says Sue Kim, Senior Colour Designer at Valspar. ‘Adding textures, such as silk cushions and woven rugs will elevate this further and prevent the scheme looking dull or flat.’

    6. Immerse the room in tonal teal and emerald

    teal living room walls with green sofa and pink chair

    Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Everard

    Team plush teal with emerald green for a grown-up living room scheme that feels rich and enveloping. Darker colours like this, that sit next to each other on the colour wheel, add depth and visual interest but as there are no harsh contrasts the scheme won’t feel jarring on the eyes. Accents of warm corral picked out in patterns and prints will bring warmth to temper teal’s coolness.

    ‘Use touches of coral in three different areas to create a triangle that brings a sense of balance to the space,’ says Ideal Home’s Decorating Editor, Nicky Phillips.

    7. Indulge in plush plum and luxe gold

    plum painted office with gold chair and desk

    Image credit: Dulux

    Plum is a rich, lush colour that will add depth and weight to a room. While pretty intense used wall-to-wall, instead try using plum as an accent colour in an alcove or on a feature wall to create smaller pockets of colour that won’t be as overpowering.

    ‘Plum works really well with a host of colours, from dusky pinks and lilacs to browns, blues and greys. Be bold and use it with mustard gold, deep orange or smokey blue – the results will be spectacular,’ says Colin Roby-Welford, Creative Director at Fired Earth.

    8. Warm steely grey with lively yellow

    grey living room with yellow paintwork and neutral sofa

    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    All-grey schemes can sometimes look a little drab, but adding a cheery accent colour will act as an instant pick-me-up. Spot colour is a quick and simple way to add style and painting an archway will help define the different areas in a knock-through living space. Plus painted features are easy to change if you switch up accent accessories or fancy a seasonal swap around.

    ‘The received wisdom is that the most striking colour combinations are achieved when you use colours that are opposite on the colour wheel like yellow and blue or red and green,’ says Justyna Korczynska, Senior Designer at Crown. ‘I think that unusual colour combinations also work really well, and at the moment love a mix of pale grey with mustard and shots of rose pink.’

    9. Balance soft coral with cool tones

    coral living room with white curtains and blue rug

    Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore

    Faded tones of terracotta and soft coral will give any room a warm, natural glow so are ideal for living rooms and bedrooms. Coral comes alive in summer sunlight, but on cold grey days it will lend a gentle warmth, so is an easy fix for north-facing spaces. Shades of cool grey and fresh blue are perfect accent colours that will bring balance to a warm coral scheme.

    ‘Try this colour if your furniture is simple and modern,’ says Ideal Home’s Decorating Editor, Nicky Phillips. ‘It will look too sugary with traditional cottage-style or shabby-chic pieces.’

    10. Pair grass green with white to bring an upbeat mood

    green and white staircase with patterned risers

    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    Bright, fresh and invigorating, green is a versatile colour that will suit any interior, from traditional to contemporary. Bring white into the mix to make green pop, creating an upbeat combination that will make tight spaces and light-starved rooms feel bright and airy while increasing the feeling of spaciousness too. Green and white also make for a lively pattern combination, from fresh florals and leafy green prints to modern geometrics.

    ‘Our connection to nature and the world around us has never been more important – during the pandemic, or post. Which is why colours that nod to nature will continue to be important long into next year, and beyond,’ says Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux.

    ‘Forest green paint. Earthy browns. Sea-blue paint. Sandy yellows. After so long trapped indoors we have come to appreciate the power of nature to uplift and revitalise us. Colour wise we are throwing open the doors and windows and inviting every shade of nature in for tea.’

    11. Mix calm stone with sunny yellow

    neutral dining room with yellow painted band

    Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore

    While neutrals make grounding backdrop colours, they can feel flat and cold without another colour to lift them. Warm yellow will bring instant sunshine to a space and it won’t take an overload of colour to work its magic. Brighten up a neutral dining space or breakfast room by painting a band of sunny yellow around the top of the room and tie the scheme together with warm yellow tableware, ceramics and linens.

    ‘Brown neutrals can be sludgy and dull unless you cut through them with the right accents. We used mimosa yellow and calm, denim blue,’ says Ideal Home’s Decorating Editor, Nicky Phillips.

    12. Combine earthy naturals for a grounded scheme

    painted panelling in grey and green with round dining table

    Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore

    It makes sense that colours that sit naturally together outdoors will work equally well indoors too. Colours of nature can have a calming, restorative effect when used inside the home and sit well with furniture in rustic timbers, natural stone and woven textiles. Bring outdoor greenery into the mix with plants and foliage that will aid the feeling of well-being.

    ‘Grey and brown are both earthy, neutral colours but they can go well together. If paired thoughtfully you get an organic look that captures the natural beauty of wood and stone,’ comments Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux. ‘Grey is cool, versatile and casual so it can work as a canvas on which to express yourself, whilst warming browns make a living room cosy and inviting.’

    13. Add drama with midnight blue and blush

    navy painted panelling in bedroom with pink bedding

    Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore

    Ink is the darkest of the blues and the perfect colour choice for a bedroom, making the space feel instantly calm and relaxed. Dramatic and immersive when used on its own, give inky blue a softer, more feminine edge by pairing it with delicate blush pink. Faded linens and soft, tactile knits in delicate pinky tones will add warmth and help to lighten the mood a little.

    ‘With so much colour going on, don’t complicate a scheme like this with bold or busy patterns. A touch of stripe or a soft sketchbook motif is enough,’ says Ideal Home’s Decorating Editor, Nicky Phillips.

    14. Try powder pink and smart taupe

    pink and taupe wallpaper with wooden chest of drawers

    Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore

    Not really a true pink, think of powder pink as more of a neutral. Calm and quiet, it will give a room a barely-there layer of colour and will blend in rather than contrast. Offset pink’s girly side by teaming it with taupe or mushroom for a smarter look with a bit more of a modern edge.

    ‘No longer just for kids’ zones or playrooms, these pale pigments are being painted in all manner of grown-up spaces, from ultra-creative WFH studios for media types, to super-fancy kitchens for dedicated foodies,’ says Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux. ‘If you add a little grey to a pastel it becomes very swank indeed so consider shades like Pink Parchment, Milled Flour, Borrowed Blue or Beach Grass. Once you’ve chosen your favourite, paint the walls, ceiling and woodwork in the same colour.’

    15. Partner dusky purple with zingy green

    plum bedroom with green headboard

    Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore

    Dusky purple is perfect for giving larger, light-filled spaces a more intimate feel so is an ideal colour for bedrooms. Warm and soothing, without being too challenging, try working in a few accents of zingy green to help uplift and lighten the mood just a little.

    ‘To capture the zeitgeist, pair plum with jewel-toned emerald or botanical lime green. These two colours are a wonderful foil for one another,’ says paint and colour expert, Annie Sloan.

    What colours work well together?

    A tonal scheme is a good place to start if you are unsure about which colours to put together. Also known as tone on tone, this type of scheme is the simplest of all the colour recipes you can use to decorate with as it includes only different tones of one colour (both lighter and darker).

    A harmonious scheme uses shades that sit next to each other on the wheel. Choosing adjacent colours is a straightforward way of creating an easy-to-live-with scheme and harmonious colours are the most widely used group in interior design.

    A contrasting colour scheme (also known as complementary colours) is created by using two colours that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. This is often the most challenging of the three schemes to get right, as colours can be cold and warm, or equally vibrant.

    How do I choose a colour combination?

    To choose the best colour combinations it can help to follow the 60-30-10 rule when choosing combinations and determining what colours go well togther. This works by dividing a colour scheme into percentages, with one main colour that represents 60% of the scheme – this could be wall colour, flooring or furniture.

    The secondary colour should then represent 30% of the decor, which again, might be furniture, curtains or soft furnishings. Finally, the last 10% of the colour scheme should be designated to an accent colour, used for accessories, such as cushions, lamps, ceramics and wall art.

    All the latest from Ideal Home