Colour is a funny thing in the Australian interior design world. It’s a love-hate relationship.

When you walk into a luxury hotel, they don’t just throw a few pops of coloured cushions on the lobby chairs and be done with it. Their interiors are curated to create environments and experiences. We experience life through texture and colour.


Colour evokes emotion: peace, energy, anger, joy, power, calm etc. So why do Australians paint their walls white all the time?

It’s simple, we view white as clean and neutral. That white goes with everything and highlights the architecture. White is easy. White makes rooms appear bigger. Real Estate agents love white as it appears to make a house more appealing with its blank canvas. We forget that white is also lacking emotion. Pure or clean are not emotions. White doesn’t excite joy, nor a sense of calm.

Transitioning from white, grey hues tends to be the next step forward. A little more thought-provoking and interesting, grey symbolises balance. It is also the colour of concrete and rock, with a feeling of being raw and cold. Designers love grey as is a great colour to add to any environment that needs a bit of sophistication but still maintaining a neutral palette with such a broad spectrum of light and dark shades. Grey however is no supplement to colour to excite our love of interiors and is commonly overused in Australian design and architecture.


So how can we use colour in our buildings? Through mood.

Mood is key to understanding what interior environment you are trying to create. Hotels are one of the best examples of ‘environmental colour’ within interior design. Bold yet refined. Tailored yet homey. Lobbies are created with double story walls of bright coloured marble that empower the environment or they may have solid timber cubes that appear as if nature made them that way wrapping the reception counter.


Working with clients from all realms of life, one of the first thing I always ask my clients is “what mood are they attempting to create”. Energetic? Elegance? Harmonic? Or a mix of several all-in-one spaces. It’s then up to us as designers to take that mood and select a theme or colour to match. Relaxing is associated with green, brown with comfortable and orange with playful, etc.

After we have a theme sorted for our clients, consideration is put into either block colouring spaces or a mix of several colours in one room to balance with each other. Neither is better or more aesthetically pleasing than the other. There are many colour theory concept and rules for design out there, however my focus is not on which colour to use where, but the braveness in using colour at all!


When we add a colour to our interiors, more often than not we select the colour blue. It’s peaceful, calm and serene. The right hue of blue can create excitement, personality, and more than anything, blue is not considered a “trend” colour (well not at the moment anyway). It’s stable. It’s timeless. And most importantly its plays on our Australian love of the sea and the outdoors.

The best and most memorable environments we experience are not those bathed in white or grey, but ones that have emotion, excitement and colour. If we can start to embrace colour further, we might just be surprised and find that we enjoy the spaces we live in even more.


To learn more about how to use colour in interior design, contact Madeline Armstrong, The Casper Project.

With over 15 years’ of experience in Interior Architectural Design, Project Management and Business Development within Design Practices, Madeline has a well rounded knowledge of the industry and forward thinking design within interiors. Working on numerous commercial projects such as airports in India and Vietnam, retail fit-outs in New Zealand and food and beverage outlets globally, Madeline then moved to residential interior design, leading the Australian luxury home design division for Italian brands such as Versace Home and Fendi Casa for 6 years. Highlighting achievements include winning Best Bathroom Global at the International Design and Architecture Awards in London in 2018.