Building & Renovating

Building 101: Conquering Colors – Proper Primaries

Explore a color scheme with red, blue, and yellow for a strong and solid look with a bright, happy atmosphere


Yesterday, we featured the neo neutrals. Today, we turn the spotlight on the proper primaries.

We often use them in kids’ rooms. But you can also use them to create a more sophisticated look in an adult’s bedroom.  Experiment by mixing different shades and tints of the primaries. In this setup, there are different shades of blue—there’s dark blue on the bedsheet and carpet trim, and light blue on the throw pillows. There are also various shades of yellow. Choosing different shades of the same color gives the room depth, and doesn’t make it look flat like a cartoon.

Primaries are too strong to look subtle. So if you must add accessories, go for bold solid forms that can create the impression of weight and reduce their number to a minimum. Stay away from the ones with busy or funky patterns and go for the simple, streamlined ones. You can also stick to those with classic forms, such as design icons. Or you can try historical artifacts or antiques such as the Chinese figurines used here.

Styling by Gwyn GS Guanzon. Photographed by Ocs Alvarez. Shot on location at Interior Design Options, Ortigas Home Depot. Illustrations by Carlo Vergara.

Read the original article ("Conquering Color") in the March 2006 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details.  

Ambitious: Crimson Passion

This scheme is reminiscent of European rooms with an Oriental theme. It looks formal, yet sexy and delicate. Tone down the overpowering effect of a red wall with intricate stencil patterns. The repeating patterns, coupled with vertical strips, mimic wallpaper. Alternating shades of red further emphasize the verticality of the walls, making the room look tall. 

HOW: Create your own stencil pattern on acetate, or buy stencil patterns from Craft World (Park Avenue, Robinsons Galleria).  Mark their positions before stenciling them. Use cotton or a sponge when applying the paint.

Basic: Delicate Details

This scheme lifts your mood and yet is conducive enough for sleep. Use a soothing blue on your walls to create a restful ambiance. Choose pillows and bed sheets in bold primaries to add a cheerful punch. Instead of hanging picture frames or wall ornaments, paint a silhouette of branches and chirping birds in the corners to simulate shadows falling on the walls.

HOW: Start the branches from the top or corners of the wall, so they won’t look as if they’re floating on the surface. After letting the base color dry, trace their outline with a pencil. Then use a small paintbrush (use artists’ brushes if paint brushes in hardware stores are not small enough) to fill in the silhouette.


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