How to Use Color Blocking in Interior Design

Sally Painter
Interior room decorated with color blocks

Taking a page from the fashion industry, interior designers are using color-blocking techniques in home decors. The goal is to create different geometric shapes, such as squares and rectangles, using color to break up a space. A rectangle-shaped wall can be divided into various squares and rectangles of different colors.

Planning a Color Block Room

Color blocking often mixes colors that don't necessarily go together for a striking visual effect. Other designs are subtle color variations while some use complementary (opposite) colors.

Unwritten Rules

You can go with a room filled with bold color blocks or opt for a subtle color scheme. According to color theory fashion designer Payal Khandwala, there are some unwritten rules to color blocking. She believes, "You can't take six beautiful colours together and there has to be a fine balance and you need to walk the tightrope." She advises using neutrals to tame the brilliant colors.

Work With Odd Numbers

This is good advice when you start planning your color blocked room, go with an odd number of colors. This is typically two main colors and one neutral color, such as white, ecru, or black.

  • Divide a wall into a few sections of horizontal and vertical rectangles along with square shapes of color.
  • You can use natural architectural breaks, such as a fireplace, cabinet, or bookcase to help define the blocks of color.
  • Use complementary colors for a striking effect, such as red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and purple.
  • If bright colors are too vivid for you, select subtle hues that will give you a monochromatic color block effect.
  • Use softer values of different colors for a less dramatic design.

Don't Stop With Walls

While walls can be a big part of a color blocking design, you aren't limited to walls. You can carry this design to the ceiling and floors. Just be cautious you don't create a competing or conflicting design.

  • For example, you could create an accent wall using the color blocking technique and choose one of the colors for the ceiling (a large block) and one to the floor (another large block).
  • Accessorize with geometric shapes in fabrics and furniture.
  • Use color block patterned draperies to accent solid colored walls that are painted different colors.

Blue Color Blocking for Teen Bedroom

Blue color blocked teen bedroom

You can use color blocking to any degree you want. For example, you may choose to use blue, white, and gray with gold accent colors.

  • Start by painting a blue accent wall and a gray color for the other walls.
  • The accent wall can be further blocked with a lighter blue painted above a white desk, creating a rectangle shape underneath the window.
  • The window shape is framed in a semi-gloss white. White draperies peppered with a blue square pattern provide an additional color blocking effect.
  • The geometric goal is continued in a white and blue square area rug while introducing greater design interest with patterned and stripe squares.
  • The final touch is the snug fitting bed cover that repeats the blue and a rectangular shape.

Bedroom Blocks of Orange

Orange color blocked bedroom

You can create a dramatic bedroom using three colors. Orange, peach and bamboo.

  • Two orange values can be used to create a unique design with a pale peach creating other geometric shapes in the headboard and nightstand as well as the platform bed.
  • The stacked rectangles on the wall and the vertical folds in the drapery are offset by the narrow white rectangle shape created on the wall and the bed linens.
  • The centerpiece of the room is the modern black and white art framed in orange and bamboo.

Kitchen Color Blocking

Color block interior design kitchen

You can play up the various natural shapes found in a kitchen, especially the cabinets.

  • Accent the space above the cabinets with a black accent color that is repeated in the kick space under the cabinets.
  • Paint the walls on either side of the top cabinets yellow.
  • The top cabinets are blue and white with the backsplash painted black.
  • Alternate the colors blue and yellow to create a geometric pattern of color.
  • The white wall repeats the white cabinets and ties the design together.

Making Colors Count

Color blocking can transform an ordinary décor into a stunning work of geometric colored shapes. Be sure to plan your room so you take advantage of natural architectural shapes.

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How to Use Color Blocking in Interior Design