What is an accent colour?

Accent colours are used to support the main colour in the colour scheme for a room. They are often bright or vivid and are used more sparingly than the main colour to add interest to the room.

Bright or strong colours can often be too overpowering when used over a large area, but are perfect as accent colours. If you are not confident about using bold colour, or have a living space that would not support bold colour then using strong colour accents may be the solution for you!

How to choose accent colours

There is a rule of thumb that you can use to estimate the balance of colours within the room – the 60-30-10 rule of interior design. Put simply, this theory helps you to balance the colours in a room by having your main or dominant colour used over 60% of the space, a secondary shade or colour used over 30% of the space, and the final 10% of the space for the accent colour or colours. This rule is meant as a guideline for balancing colour but of course the percentages are a rough guide and you should feel free to use your own judgement and creativity to create the look you want.

For instance this could mean that you go for a neutral grey shade on walls, a white for woodwork, ceiling and bedcovers and then flashes of teal in the form of cushions, artwork and lampshades. Or it could mean three walls in one main colour, a feature wall of colour, co-ordinated with the fabric on a sofa and then flashes of an additional shade in a rug and a throw.

For a subtle and calm feel you can go for shades of the same colour, or colours that sit beside each other on the colour wheel. For a more punchy look, go for bright zingy accents to attract attention such as lime green, teal or bright pink. When balanced with deep or pale neutral colours these brights won’t overpower, making them perfect for accents.

How to use accent colours

You can use one, two or possibly three accent colours in a room for effect – think about whether you want to be bold and make a statement or create a subtle contrast.

Accent colours can be used in textiles, furnishings, small wall areas, art or accessories.

Here are some ideas for using accent colours:

1. Go for a feature wall in a bright colour and co-ordinate this with a rug or cushions

2. Upcycle furniture to match trim colours or artwork

3. Use metallic paint to create a subtle contrast, for instance plant pots painted silver to co-ordinate with grey walls, or paint a few stripes horizontally around the middle of the walls

4. Paint picture frames in brights that pop – particularly effective with monochrome art or black & white photography

5. Bring your palette together by creating your own art with sample pots of your main, secondary and accent colours. 

Start choosing colours now!