Using different elements to create a layered colour palette *

What is a layered interior?

You may have heard the words ‘layered interior design’, but what exactly does it mean, and how can you create it? Essentially a layered interior is a room or home that is built up of different decorative elements that add layers and create depth to the space. By using different layers of texture and materials, you can bring contrast and balance to create a room that works cohesively with all elements working together.

I recently wrote about choosing a colour palette for you home where I talked about using colour in a way that doesn’t come solely from the paint on your walls. It is the different components, including flooring, wallpaper, your choice of materials for storage, textiles and furnishings – as well as the paint colour that will build a strong palette and create the layered interior we are talking about.

Creating a colourful home design

In this blog post I want to show you how by layering different material combinations you can create a completely different look for a space. I have chosen one colour palette and shown a modern living room design in four different ways. You can also see how easily this could work if you want to create colourful interiors by continuing a palette the throughout a larger space – either the whole house, or if that feels too limiting, then throughout the whole of the downstairs for example. This way of using colour will create flow throughout a space and works especially well for open plan homes – or homes that are on one level. You might think this would make everything feel overly co-ordinated, however that is absolutely not my goal and by using different levels of colour throughout the overall look will not feel over powering.

Careful consideration

Larger pieces of furniture such as sofas, chairs, and storage are all mediums that add texture and colour. The materials you choose for these pieces of furniture are ones that you will want to last, they will likely be large financial investments and should stand the test of time. By carefully considering all the options when making these decisions will have a long-term impact on the sustainability of your space, both financially and environmentally. My design examples are shown using the same foundation pieces of furniture – you can still completely change the look of a space without having to change these key pieces of furniture. One way to help you make these big decisions, is to decide if you want these key pieces of furniture to act as a neutral or to form an accent that brings the colour to the room. By choosing these pieces first, it can inform how the other layers will need to be used.

Layers of colour

Choosing a large colour palette may feel tricky to begin with, however in the long run it will be less restrictive and makes for a more fun space. Five or six colours is a great place to start – you can build a base with two neutral colours and then add in one or two highlight colours and then the details can come from another one or two accent colours.

I like to use the neutral as a canvas, and then layer up with the highlights and accents – these details will build depth and fun to a room – I find that the spread of these elements often gets mixed up and rebalances itself through the choice of materials available. It is not an exact science, more a guide that will help you think about what will work together without being overpowering, but will still give you a level of flexibility to introduce your personality and own style into a space.

Neutral colours:

These are the base colours that you layer on top of – remember that neutral doesn’t have to be a shade of off white! I have some colour suggestions on alternative neutral paint colours in this blog post here.

Highlight colours:

These are the colours that draw you in, the colour that makes the room stand out.

Accent colours:

These are the little pops of colour that marry everything up and let your personality show up.

Non-paint-based ways to add colour

Here some ideas of non-paint-based materials that you could use to create the layered look I keep mentioning.


This could be vertical cladding, plywood used as a wall lining, or the wood you choose on a shelving unit.


An obvious choice, but these days a wallpaper could be as full on as a whole wall mural, or as basic as a simple stripe.

Structural elements:

Beams and brick work can be used to inform colour choices right from the start.


Whether you choose the art first and build your layers around it, or find the art as you go – this is a great way to play with colour, inject some fun and your style into a scheme.


Rugs and cushions will obviously fall into this category, but so will the fabrics you choose for your larger pieces of furniture.

More info

If you need help with colour, I offer a colour consultation service where I can create bespoke, layered colour palettes for your scheme. Feel free to contact me via the contact us page and book a free discovery call.


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