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Designer outdoor cushions | water resistant, soft and durable | Luxe outdoor candles and summer scarves | Perth, Australia

My Moteef Blog

MyMoteef - A blog inspired by the philosophy 'Go bold. Be real. Stay curious' - By Australian graphic designer and creator of Moteef, Terri Ioannou.

3 steps to picking a colour theme that works

Terri Ioannou

Isn't it odd that the most daunting place to start from is a blank canvas. If you're anything like me, this overwhelm can be the sole reason you never do anything with the spaces in your home that need it the most, let alone your outdoor living area! (Confession: I had an empty nappy box as my bed side table for way too long 'cos I couldn't decide what I wanted!)

Choosing larger pieces can be easier because generally you know what you need... a bed, a sofa, an outdoor setting, but decorating and colour choice can be tricky if you don't have a vision. It's times like this when I recall something one of my university lecturers told me. (Ok, it was a long time ago, but it's a goodie!) He said, "if all else fails, look to nature for inspiration".

Mother Nature has an uncanny way of putting the most fabulous colour combos together and in this day and age of easy web access, a quick flight around Pinterest for inspiration will have your cup running over with inspiration!

I have been curating a Pinterest board of colour combos that work in nature and they can be a great launching pad for anyone looking to create a cohesive colour story in their home.

Here's how to use inspiration from nature to decorate with colour:

STEP 1: Choose a colour that you love. Pick one that really makes you feel good or you already use in your space and you'd like to continue to do so. For this example I'm going to pick turquoise because it' a personal favourite. Did you know that turquoise inspires self expression, creativity and communication? It calms and balances the emotions encouraging you to fulfill your own needs. Use it in your space to recharge and invigorate depleted energy levels.

STEP 2: Jump onto Pinterest and type in 'turquoise in nature' and/or 'turquoise flowers' and scroll through the results. You may be surprised at what you find...

Colour combo that works: Apricot, raspberry, ivory and turquoise. Pic credit: Kliff Klegg

Colour combo that works: Apricot, raspberry, ivory and turquoise.

Pic credit: Kliff Klegg

Colour combo that works: Lime, black, navy and turquoise. Pic credit: Nathan Rupert

Colour combo that works: Lime, black, navy and turquoise.

Pic credit: Nathan Rupert

Colour combo that works: Chocolate/black, yellow/orange and turquoise. Pic credit: Aaron Toulmin

Colour combo that works: Chocolate/black, yellow/orange and turquoise.

Pic credit: Aaron Toulmin

Now that we've found some, here's how to decode them so that they are useful.

Photograph by Klaus Stiefel

Photograph by Jennie Marie Schell

Referencing the two examples above and pulling out the main colours and tones, we can see that turquoise works well with yellow, orange, navy, magenta and darker tones of itself. For those a little more colour savvy, a quick look at a colour wheel would show yellow and orange are pretty much opposite and therefore complementary of blue/green shades. You definitely can't go wrong by using colours on the opposites of the colour wheel.

Be true to your own preference but if you want support, ask someone to help you balance your colour selection and not what they think of it.

STEP 3: Deciding what you like isn't hard but then using that information to create what you want can be a little trickier. Another specific search online or in your favourite mags can point you in the right direction for styling and product choices. Once I have my main furniture pieces in mind and perhaps an influencing style (hamptons, contemporary, bohemian), I like to start with cushions or a floor rug that use the colours that work in my theme. Then I find more accessories that complement the colours in those soft furnishings as well as serve a function to make my space usable. Remember that throwing in a contrasting pop, like the purpley tone from the fish, is great for variety and visual relief. 

Depending on your own tastes you should be as restrained as you like, but know this... colour preference is very personal and the ones you select will either attract or repel anyone you seek advice from. Be true to your own preference but if you want support, ask someone to help you balance your selection and not what they think of it.

Below are some outdoor areas, that use the colours we discovered in the main examples above, in two different ways. 

This exotic space uses the colour rules we found in both examples. Turquoise, darker tones of the same, yellow and pops of magenta for interest. The rug in this case would be a good starting point for colour mixing but remember to not be too samey! Pic credit: Classifica.org via Pinterest

This exotic space uses the colour rules we found in both examples. Turquoise, darker tones of the same, yellow and pops of magenta for interest. The rug in this case would be a good starting point for colour mixing but remember to not be too samey!

Pic credit: Classifica.org via Pinterest

In this space the yellow scatter cushion is a good launching pad for the rest of the story. Picking up the turquoise and the yellow in the other accessories makes for a colourful space that is lively but still classically styled. Pic credit: Houzz.com via Pinterest - altered by Moteef for illustrative purposes

In this space the yellow scatter cushion is a good launching pad for the rest of the story. Picking up the turquoise and the yellow in the other accessories makes for a colourful space that is lively but still classically styled.

Pic credit: Houzz.com via Pinterest - altered by Moteef for illustrative purposes

>> When have you turned to nature for inspiration?

Go bold. Be real. Stay curious.