Colour blocking: A whimsical way to add colour to your interiors

Here's a quick, easy and low-commitment way to refresh your interior spaces.

Story by: Loukas Tsitsiridakis Photography by: Various
What could have been a forgettable fireplace was fireplace, furniture, hearth, heat, home, interior design, living room, orange, room, table, wood-burning stove, gray
What could have been a forgettable fireplace was transformed by the inclusion of a mustard yellow border. But now this living room is enlivened with a touch of colour.

Painting can only add so much detail and interest to your home. But we've got one way to incorporate paint in a more exciting way – colour blocking.


So what is colour blocking?

You might have heard about colour blocking in the fashion world, but it has also made its way into home design too. Colour blocking is generally credited to French artist Piet Mondrian (one of his works below right), and was later reinterpreted and popularised by designer Yves Saint Laurent (dress below left).

Colour blocking is the pairing of two or more colours to create a unique look or atmosphere. You can use complementary colours, or those more fearless might go for contrasting colours. With interior design, colour blocking is mostly achieved through surfaces, decor or a combination of the two.

If you’re going to give colour blocking a try, we suggest using some restraint to begin with. Start on one wall with a maximum of three colours – two main colours and a neutral to offset them. The images in this story provide some inspiration and Resene also has a useful how-to guide.

Colour blocking can serve a variety of purposes – from adding visual interest to defining spaces. There's no set way to incorporate it into your home either, as the below examples prove.

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Starting small

If you're wary of jumping in head first with colour blocking, baby steps will be just fine.

Colour blocking with a bold blue helps to revamp a simple, boring entryway into an exciting and eye-catching one, while also adding a bespoke feeling to the space.

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Colour blocking helps to frame the couch in this living space – simultaneously drawing the eye and blurring the lines of the space.

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Practical approach

Think colour blocking is purely an aesthetic choice? Think again. It can serve practical purposes, as well.

Different coloured doors give this home a more eclectic feel.

On top of being a fun touch, having various different coloured doors has a practical purpose. The owners can tell guests that bathroom has a blue door and bedroom they're staying in has a pink one, rather than having to give specific directions.

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Is your home lacking in natural light? Add a bright colour to your window frames to pick up on existing sunlight. A dash of sunshine yellow helps to enliven this window frame.

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Defining spaces

While open plan living remains ever popular, we often create or delegate spaces for specific tasks or purposes. Colour blocking can help with this.

The corner of the above living space is turned into a reading nook and mini retreat area with the addition of bright orange paint and a comfortable seat.

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Home offices are a great place to incorporate some colour and have some fun. If it's a part of another room, colour blocking can help to create some separation between the home office and rest of the space.

This DIY kids room makeover combines colour blocking with shelving to create a functional working space.

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Colour blocking in: bedrooms

Like home offices, bedrooms are a part of the home where you have more design freedom and a great opportunity to reflect your personality.

The above example is a more restrained approach to colour blocking, but still very effective.

A forest green makes this otherwise neutral coloured room much more visually impactful – note how the colours line up with the wooden floor and side of the window.

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If you're more daring, a varied combination of colours and textures can make for an extremely modern and memorable space.

This can be seen in the work of designer Daria Zinovatnaya, a master of home colour blocking.

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See more areas of the home and approaches to colour blocking in our gallery.

Mar 08, 2019
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