8 Unexpected + Timeless Colour Combos To Try At Home

Choosing colour combinations for your home is one of those tasks that can be harder than you think.

We’re simplifying the process today, by sharing eight tried-and-tested colour schemes, with wisdom from our interiors columnist Lauren Li on why these combos just work so well! Some are timeless, some are more unexpected — all are guaranteed to please.

Take a look below!

Lauren Li

In the home of Ilana Moses the joinery is painted in reduced strength Dulux Frontier. Curved banquette built by Camm Upholstery. Vaticano Marble from Corsi and Nicolai. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli and Sarah Hendriks

Therese Carrodus’ home features an inherited the mid-century sideboard that sits in front of walls painted in Blue Shell by Dulux. Judith Wright painting from Sophie Gannon Gallery. Photo – Fiona Storey.

Inside Leigh Elwood’s apartment is a Togo Ligne Roset sofa and footstool upholstered in lilac Kvadrat velvet. Painting by Heather B. Swann from Station Gallery. ClassiCon side table. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Purple + Blue

Purple is a colour that can easily look a bit too wild and immature in a space. It can be a difficult colour to work with, however when done right, it seriously pays off. Blue helps ground purple because they are right next door on the colour wheel.

Purple and blue work even better together when paired with green — also known as an analogous combination (a group of three colours that sit side by side on the colour wheel).

The gorgeous space by Leigh Elwood highlights this combination perfectly with green in the rug, blue in the artwork and purple in the sofa.

Therese Carrodus designed the custom dining table and banquette seating in her home herself, and sourced the dining chairs from Tyabb Antiques market in Mornington. The feature wall is painted in Basic Coral by Dulux with mounted glass wall lights shipped over from the Netherlands. Artwork from Atlas Gallery. Photo – Fiona Storey.

Inside th home of Alice Stolz. Bouquet Pendant 5 chandelier from Great Dane. Antique French dresser bought in Paris. Huxley Curve Dining Table from GlobeWest. Recycled pink plastic chairs from Ikea. Wall colour Dulux Rosetta. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Maroon and navy hues in Nabilah Nordin and Nick Modrzewski’s kitchen. Smeg x Dolce & Gabbana ‘Sicily is my Love’ Longslot 4 Slice Toaster. Alessi Pulcina Espresso Coffee Maker. Le Creuset Cast Iron Shallow Casserole. Alessi Plisse Electric Kettles. Bogdan sculptural head by Krys Modrzewski. Punch and Judy dolls. Photography – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Maroon + Navy

Maroon and navy paired together feels mature and luxurious. These colours work so well because they are the same tone, which means that they have the same amount of dark grey.

Here’s a colour secret for you; any colour pairing will work together as long as they’re the same tone.

Maroon and navy is an unexpected combination although it’s still safe. It’s tried and tested; we see maroon and navy together in textiles, artwork and of course, interiors.

Keep in mind the 60-30-10 rule. The main colour in any space should represent 60 per cent of the palette in a room (for example, maroon). The secondary colour should have a 30 per cent representation (in this case, navy). And 10 per cent is the accent (with this colour combo I’d try a tan or mustard).

Chelsea Hall‘s home features a striking blue and green artwork by Spencer Shakespeare. ‘Chubb’ coffee table from Sarah Ellison. Perforated trays from HAY. Marble candle holder from Country Road. Column pillar candles from Gingerfinch. Maison Balzac glass candle holder. V-joint wall painted Dulux Powdered Gum. Other walls painted Dulux Natural White. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Subtle blue and green hues are peppered around Josie Luczak‘s home through small decor pieces. Painting by Enos Namatjira. Ikea coffee table. Armadillo rug. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

In Bea Lambos’ home a soft green wall takes pride of place. Menu Candle Holder from Designstuff. Vintage black cupboard. Vintage lamp by from The Junk Company. Ligne Roset Ploum Sofa from DOMOLeroy Coffee Table and Floor Lamp from Rachel Donath. Vase from Space Furniture. Print on wall from IKEA. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Alice Stolz‘s bedroom is bathed in soft blue. Watercolour portraits of Alice and her husband by Nicholas Harding. Lunar Mirror in ‘wineberry’ by Grazia and Co. Linen from L&M home and quilt from House of Orange. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Green + Blue

There’s an old saying; ‘blue and green, should never be seen except with something in between’ – and that ‘something’ surely must be timber.

Blue and green work together in harmony because they are both on the cooler side of the colour palette.

This colour combination together feels calm and tranquil – perfect for spaces where you need a chilled out vibe. Use across walls for an encompassing effect, or as an accent with décor such as rugs, soft furnishings and textiles.

A pop of bold pink can be spotted from Alice Stolz‘s kitchen. Door handles by Linear Standard. Tapware by E&S. Marble by Signorino. Dining room wall colour Dulux Rosetta. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Yasmine Ghoniem’s eclectic Bondi apartment is a lesson in pairing pink and green. Custom joinery by YSG made by Xpert Joinery. Lower cabinetry in Deep Reed by Dulux. Calacutta Manhattan marble from Med Marble. Vintage ceramic bowls from the DEA store. Coffee plunger by Jardan. Phoenix Mixer from Sydney Taps. Custom patterned hand painted floor by Creative Finishes. Photo – Prue Ruscoe. Styling – Felicity Ng

This living space is one of Chloe and Charlie’s favourite rooms in the house. Rug custom made by Olli Ella. Vintage sofa that’s been reupoholstered in sheepskin. Custom fireplace. Belgian church wall sconce, burl table and child’s chair are all vintage. Mushroom basket by Olli Ella. Walls painted in Dulux Casper White Quarter. Feature wall painted in Dulux Moorland. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

The bathroom inside James and Liana Shaw-Taylor’s Sydney home. Tiling by TileScheme with tiles from Artedomus. Lighting from Euroluce. Plant and pot from Domus Botanica. Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

Pink + green

At first, you might think that pink and green is an unusual colour combination however once it’s on your radar, you’ll see it everywhere.

Pink and green is a classic colour contrast, it’s a dynamic pairing as these two hues sit directly opposite one another on the colour wheel.

Here we see pastel pink kitchen cupboards combined with khaki green, instantly making the space feel harmonious and sophisticated.

Inside Samantha Brown’s serene apartment. Vintage bamboo dining chairs with custom upholstered stripe cushions in Kravet Basics fabric. Shell print by Petri Prints. Mud Australia bowl. Murano glass vase. Glasses with rattan from The Bay Tree. Clear glasses from Watertiger. Georg Jenson pepper grinder. Bamboo blinds by House of Bamboo.

‘Though the tumbled travertine dining table is highly impractical for a young family (crumb vortex) it’s perfect in every other way, hosting all our friends and family,’ says Lauren. Artwork above table by Guy MaestriPotence Pivotante wall lamp. Pot by Anchor Ceramics. Travertine table from Curated Spaces. Vintage Thonet dining chairs sourced from Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Home of Josh and Jenna Densten. Linen from The Sheet Society in Butter. Art by Nastia Gladushchenko. Curtains from DIY Blinds. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Tonal neutrals

Tonal neutrals refer to white-adjacent hues that ‘aren’t quite white’ – creams, beiges, soft taupe and coffee-coloured tones all fit this description.

Although mixing tonal neutrals might seem easy, it can be hard to pull off without an essential ingredient; texture.

Too many tonal neutrals in a space can look completely drab without contrasting the finish of materials. It’s about combining shiny gloss handmade tiles against matt smooth cupboards, or raw travertine stone with natural cane webbing. There needs to be contrasting textures to keep the space visually interesting.

Inside Maxine Wylde’s playful apartment. Smooth Shelf/Console shelves by Nicole Lawrence. Pink plinth by Condo Objects. Ptolomeo bookshelf from Space Furniture. Alva (Bouclé) armchair by Sarah Ellison. Fluffy ottoman from CCSS furniture. Cushion by House of Hazar. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Editorial Styling – Annie Portelli. Assistant – Christina Karras

Kate Jansen’s family beach house. Tulip chairs bought off Facebook Marketplace and covered in a velour orange fabric. Framed Journey of Something puzzle on rear wall. Heico pineapple lamp. HKliving fabric lamp shade. Love Moroccan Rugs rug. Ikea shelves. Jai Vasicek bowl. Dulux Vivid White walls. Photo – Amelia Stanwix. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Inside Ben Mazey’s Collingwood apartment. Mint green side table is a ‘Champ’ stool from Matter Made in NYC. White ceramic lamp by Ben. Ligne Roset ‘Togo’ sofa. Dutch brutalist coffee table from Modern Times. Ceramic candlesticks commissioned by Lucy Folk from Ceri Muller. Artworks on wall: Collage artwork by Linder Sterling; tri-color screen prints with text by Cali-Thornhill Dewitt; neon pink screen print by an all time fave Sister Corita-Kent. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Brights + whites

It’s thought that the easiest paint colour option is to just go white — ha!

Anyone who has been tasked with selecting a white paint knows that there is white, and then there is white. There are so many shades!

However, I find that Vivid White is a great all-rounder, not too cream or too cool. Lexicon Quarter is a very cool clean white and suits contemporary new builds.

Of course, white means that you can layer a rainbow of colour over the top with wild abandon — it will never clash!

Poppy Lissiman’s Fremantle home! Artwork from left to right:Red nude by Melissa Kitty Jarram. Larger nude by Elle Campbell. Elton John custom commission from Greta Balog. Middle artwork by unknown. Long skinny piece by Taku Rosie Tarco King from Mangkaja Arts. Black ink portrait by Poppy Lissiman. Wall colour –  Dulux Antique White U.S.A. Photo– Jack Lovel. Stylist – Amy Collins-Walker

James and Liana Shaw-Taylor’s Sydney home. ‘Valley’ sofa by Jardan. Armadillo rug. Lamp and coffee tables by HAY. Vintage armchair. Vintage side-table with leftover kitchen tile on top. Cushions from Country Road and Sheet Society. Ms. Curtain curtains. Ottoman from Freedom. Walls painted Dulux Fair Bianca.Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

Yasmine Ghoniem’s Bondi apartment. Floor runner from Kulchi. Stool by Henry Wilson. Custom joinery by YSG made by Xpert joinery in Porter’s Paint Biscotti. Stansborough Wool throw from DEA store. Artwork ‘Mr Tallmadge’ by James King (2015) from Becker Minty. Framed scarf by Kushana Bush from Cheesoon and Fitzgerald. Photo – Prue Ruscoe. Styling – Felicity Ng

The bathroom inside Leigh Ellwood’s beach shack. Tapware by Vola. Bespoke mirror cabinet designed by Leigh and made by Makestuff. Hand basin by Artedomus. Natural terracotta tiles. Japanese wall tile by Academy Tiles. Photo – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Terracotta + cream

As a material, terracotta is forever timeless because even though it ebbs and flows in popularity, it’s simply a beautiful material from the earth.

As a colour, terracotta is so easy to live with; it’s inherently warm, tactile and natural. Being on the warm side of the colour palette, terracotta really needs to team with other warm tones like cream, tan and beige.

Catherine Spillane and Drew Rampal’s coastal family home. Kitchen cabinets in Porter’s Paints Bayleaf. Light shade by Mud Australia. Stools by Living By Design. Splashback tiles from Academy Tiles. Photography – Nikole Ramsay for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucinda McKimm’s beach house. Bench stools from Circa Sixty & Co. Birch ply laminate joinery Laminex. Beige console from Curated Spaces. Chairs at heads of table sourced by Good Space. Brown leather chairs sourced by @midcenturyco on Instagram. Tiles purchased off eBay. Table made by Billy Furniture. Photo – Heidi Shreeve

Susie Silverii and Laurence Parisi’s Hurstbridge home. The original kitchen featuring solid Tasmanian oak cabinetry and bench tops. Belling Richmond Induction Cooker. Original Lise Temple countryside painting framed by Forman Art and Framing. Green planter by Robert GordonGeorgia Ezra Clay Oil Decanter and Raku Spoon Rest by AHW Georgia Ezra. Photography – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Green + timber

Timber tones are versatile and coordinate with many colours, however when paired with green, you have a particularly harmonious combination. Timber and green feel natural, fresh, calm and timeless.

Matching the intensity of the green with the right timber means taking note of the tones and saturation. A deep green ties in well with rich timber tones as seen in this kitchen above.

Ready to start?

It’s best to start with the vibe. Remember, a harmonious colour scheme will be more tonal and have less contrast. Whereas something more dynamic and ‘interesting’, will call for higher saturation and more contrast.

Note the colours of things already in the space that can’t be changed — flooring, for example — and work back from there.

The key here is to test the colours. Order in A4 colour swatches to narrow down your chosen colour palette. Then buy sample pots and large boards so that you can move the coloured boards around the space in a different light. See how they work against the other materials. As you experiment and narrow down your selections, you’ll begin feel more confident. Go for it!

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