7 steps interior designer Micaela Sharp takes to choose exactly the right room colors

Designer Micaela Sharp talks us through how to use color to make decorating a breeze

three color ideas
(Image credit: Future)

Choosing the right colors for your home can seem like a daunting prospect, especially when you’re faced with wall to wall paint pots, endless sheets of samples and countless tester pots. However, it’s also very exciting – you have the opportunity to completely change the look and feel of your space. 

There are lots of room color ideas to inspire your interior design, as well as advice on how to choose paint colors that are sure to get you started.

From choosing the perfect shades to setting the right tone, here, designer Micaela Sharp talks us through how to use color to make decorating a breeze.

Micaela Sharp
Micaela Sharp

Micaela is a sustainable interior designer and upholsterer. She shot to fame in the UK after appearing on TV show Interior Design Masters and has since gone on to launch a homeware brand, write a monthly magazine column and launch an online upholstery course. In an industry that is predominantly white, she's proud to be an up-and-coming, black, female designer.

1. Consider the mood you want to conjure up

Blue country living room with a beige corner sofa

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

'Start to think about the mood you would like to set for the space. Colors are powerful and have the capacity to affect your mood, something that is also known as color psychology. Cool tones and lighter colors work well in calming spaces.  While darker warm colors work well for creating a cosy or dramatic room.'

2. Don't be afraid of bold colors

Blue living room with a pink sofa

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Using just one color and having a monochromatic color scheme can often feel flat when designing a home.  I love to add complementary colors alongside monochromatic tones.  For example, I love using two or three tones of teal with pink.’  

3. Think about white

Living room trends

(Image credit: Future / Alexander James)

‘When opting for white room ideas, be sure to always choose your white as carefully as your other colors. Brilliant white may not balance with your home’s light levels, there are just as many shades of white as other colors. When decorating with white, it is important to decide whether you want a cool or warm white feel for your scheme. Keeping walls white is a great backdrop for colorful furniture and accessories especially those in primary colors but I have to say I rarely go for all white walls.’ 

4. Remember to look beyond the walls

Home office with orange walls

(Image credit: Jon Day)

'There are more places to add color than merely the walls.  I advise painting woodwork a tone darker than your walls. Then use a complementary color – a color on the direct opposite side of the color wheel – on painted furniture or choose vibrant upholstery.' 

It is worth researching how to decorate with primary colors to create bright but balanced spaces.

5. Have fun with color

Relaxed and colourful bedroom with pretty leaf trail wallpaper design and a bright orange lacquer bedside cabinet

(Image credit: Future / Polly Wreford)

‘In addition to paint ideas, every item in your home, from carpets to buffets, present opportunity to add color to your interior. For example, an orange side table contribute far more to your bedroom design than a gray one just as a colorful rug will be far more invigorating than a plain, dark design.’

6. Think about how different color wood works in your scheme

How to restore wood furniture antique desk

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

‘Wood also adds a color so think carefully about what tones work with your color scheme. Dark walnut with a crisp white or olive green. Versus light oak with blues and navy.’

7. Embrace experimentation


(Image credit: Dulux)

‘While this is a framework to start from, sometimes great design can also be found outside of the rules so don’t be afraid to try something new. The upside of playing with colors on the walls or with accessories and rugs is that they are easy to change in case it doesn't work.' 

If you're looking for more inspiration there are plenty of living room color schemes and kitchen color ideas that are sure to kickstart your scheme.

Holly Reaney
Content Editor and Sub-editor

Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.