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Colours and Materials

Colour Focus: Colour Schemes

26th FEB 2020

Reading time: 3 minutes

Complement, Contrast or Connect – these are the three approaches to building the colour scheme for your restoration interior trim kit.

Whether you’re looking to keep it subtle, make a colour statement or strike a contrast, there’s a number of ways to use colour depending on the look and feel of your restoration. Here we share inspirational images for every scheme.


Complementary colour schemes use tonal colour across all areas of the car for a cohesive look.

Tonally matching all materials ties together flooring, seat, panel and weather equipment areas within your interior. By matching the carpet binding colour to the seats and panels, the eye is drawn seamlessly across the seats, panels and floor areas. These schemes don’t look for exact colour matching, but work to celebrate the highs and lows of shading across all materials that come from the different dyeing processes. In these schemes, the exterior paint colour of the car can either contrast or tone in with the interior.

Red tones make a superb impression in this Jaguar S-Type 420
Natural Stone tones work well against the green paintwork of this Triumph TR2
Shades of New Tan across Leather, Vinyl and Wool combine beautifully in this XK140 FHC
Tones of Red make a rich statement against the bright yellow paintwork of this MGA Roadster
The pale blue paintwork of this Triumph TR5 inspired a blue interior with Pale Shadow Blue Seats, Panels and Carpets
The grey shades of this Jaguar MK2 interior make for a luxurious finish against the dark grey paintwork


Contrasting schemes use colour to accent between different areas of the interior.

In this scheme, the primary colour of the seats and panels is made to stand out against the secondary contrast colour of the carpets and flooring. Keep carpet edging tonally matching to the carpet colour to clearly define between the seating and floor areas of your car to create a striking interior. In these schemes, the exterior paint colour of the car can help to determine your secondary material colour to give strength to the colour contrast between seat and carpet areas.

Carpet and seat areas are defined with two shades of blue in this Triumph TR6 restoration
Black, red and white work together to define bodywork, flooring areas and seats and panels in this MGA Roadster
Parchment seat and panel work looks sharp and crisp against red paintwork and black carpets in this MGA Roadster
Biscuit Light Tan seats and panels are clearly defined against Black carpets in this Triumph TR6


These schemes use colour to connect different areas of the car for a unified finish.

You may want to tie in the bodywork paint colour to your seat piping, or perhaps match the carpet edging to the colour of your seats… there are many options in Connect colour schemes which can be playful and draw the eye to accented areas. These schemes often incorporate the exterior colour of the car. Use the piping and binding elements as an opportunity to connect the outside bodywork colour with the inside interior.

Dark Green is used to connect the external bodywork paint colour with the interior items in the Triumph TR3A
Dark Blue carpet edging connects the seat and panel items with the flooring area in this E-Type Roadster OTS
The yellow paintwork is highlighted in the interior with yellow piping across the Seats and Centre Cushion Armrest in this Austin Healey BN4
White piping on the Panels, Seats and Centre Cushion Armrest of this Austin Healey BN4 connects with the feature exterior two-tone bodywork

Three very helpful tips…

  1. Regardless of the colour scheme you are going for – Complement, Contrast or Connect – in all three cases, the seats and panels are always the same colour as each other.
  2. Restorations that combine of a maximum of three colours (including the bodywork paint colour), are often the most successful in appearance as they strike a balance of colour interest without being too over-complicated.
  3. Panel and seat work is the most prominent colour that is seen inside your car. We refer to the leather and vinyl used across these areas as the ‘Primary’ material, and this should be the first colour you choose when building your colour scheme. The colour of any ‘Secondary’ materials – such as carpet, moquette or hardura – will be determined either by the colour of your seats and panels, or your bodywork paint colour. Read more about this in our post – Colour Focus: Primary and Secondary Materials.