When you’re choosing new artwork for a room, whether it’s a bedroom, a living room or hallway, it’s important to consider the concept of colour contrast.
It involves mastering the contrast of hue, the contrast of light and dark, the contrast of cold and warm and complementary contrast.
Understanding colour theory is all very well and good, but often it’s tricky to visualise exactly what an art print might look like.
And how do we know when to complement colours and when to contrast? How do we know what will look good?
Here, we touch on a few basics of colour contrasting and provide visual examples of how different the same room can be when we match and when we clash.
Matching and clashing are both beautiful – just different. Let’s celebrate that difference now.
Aqua features strongly in the walls and the chairs. In this interior the aqua is coupled with a pea green lounge suite and teal cushions.
To match, choose a work of art that features colours in the same palette. It doesn’t have to match exactly. It’s OK if the hue and the lightness is different. It will still appear complementary.
To clash, choose a piece of art that features a dominant colour that’s radically different from that which appears in the decor. Notice how the beige and teal colour behind the red still complements the decor? That is key.
When it comes to matching pastels, particularly pinks, whites and violets, floral prints are the go to solution. When clashing, it’s OK to go completely wild like this blue and green abstract.
Note the complementary dapples of pink and violet in the abstract? It’s a trick of the trade – a way to ensure the clash is visually appealing.
What can you possibly match with a moss wall and a mustard chair? Retro is your friend here. How glorious are these sunflowers styled in an art print that oozes vintage appeal. Very easy on the eye.
In contrast, to bring the room alive choose a bright colour like purple. You still get that same vintage appeal, but this time it’s bursting with colour.
While there is no moss colour included in the print, see how the butterflies match the chair? Interior design is an artform in itself.
Mustard and khaki-green (more recently known as ‘olive drab’) is a match made in heaven and how gloriously perfect is this complementary nature print?
If you’re more into contemporary art than landscape art, you can instead choose to clash with a multicoloured print. The colours are different, but the hues are similar to the decor. That’s why it works so well.
If you thought matching neutral art with a neutral decor would equal boring then think again. This abstract swirl is the epitome of elegance with some gorgeous coffee colour blending.
Of course the wonderful thing about neutrals is you can clash to your heart’s desire, so if you want big, bold colour go for it! Almost anything will work.
Colourful, impressionist prints often blend perfectly with more modest colour palettes like neutrals, olives and tans as they tend to use light to tell a story or provide a sense of place. If you’re looking to create ambience, it’s often easy to find an impressionist print that will blend with a room’s colour scheme.
When opting to mismatch with olive colours, remember it’s not always about clashing with the colour. The orange orchids and hibiscus, below, feature much of the same colouring, but it’s the floral that clashes with the stripes in the rug. Sassy isn’t it?
When your decor is turquoise, you know you can have as much fun with artwork as you like. How subtle is that pink vase in the decor below? How perfect is that matching abstract? Thank you turquoise. We love you.
To contrast, watch how the hue in the pink of the vase of flowers is cleverly transitioned to purple. The decor is dominantly turquoise, but that piece of pink transformed it into something harmonious.