Interior designs: ‘Professional designers use a colour wheel’

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Although it lasts only one day, it can be fun to decorate your home for Valentine’s Day. As with all special occasion decorating, you can set the mood with clever accessorising.

Red is most associated with love, but most hues at the warm end of the spectrum not only add a touch of romance but are capable of complementing and co-ordinating with an existing décor. The fail-safe way of choosing your accent colour(s) is to avoid too close a colour match to an existing scheme. This does neither shade any favours and often creates a visual clash.

Professional designers use a colour wheel in which all the colours in the spectrum move towards each other around the wheel. While, in theory, an interiors scheme could use any combination of colours, in practice there are rules for the successful and effective use based on their relationship within the colour wheel and the proportions in which they are used. Colours lying opposite each other will produce a contrast, while those adjacent to each other will be more harmonious.

For special occasion decor, apply the principles of the colour wheel. Schemes of warm browns, reds and purples could happily carry romantic accents of pinks, whereas cooler purples, blues or greens come alive with bright reds. Your decorations might include co-ordinated tablecloths, napkins and glasses, or groups of coloured candles and flowers in your chosen shades. Fabric used as a throw could add a punch of romantic colour, or a pretty pink heart-shaped wreath hung on the door could set the scene. Creating temporary special occasion accents not only adds glamour to the occasion but can also inspire you to new and different colour combinations for the future. k

Pat Elliott, The Borders Design House. Visit our website for design services, courses and workshops. Start a new career in 2013 as a Homestyle Adviser or learn to ‘Be Your Own Designer’ with our distance-learning interior design courses (07765 057 409,