When it comes to decorating, there is an entire universe of options, be it finishings, furnishings, fabrics or styles.  One of the foundation blocks of decor, that has the ability and power to tie everything together, is colour.
Colour is an exciting avenue to explore, and while many people are hesitant to use colour, it’s often the easiest and least expensive way in which to transform your space.  To fully utilise the power and potential of colour does require some caution, but also requires confidence – however, you don’t need to be an expert in the field to do a good job.  It all builds on a few basic principles, through which incredible spaces can be created.

Colour has the ability to create optical illusions in any room, allowing the space to appear larger, smaller, cosier, more austere, and a myriad of other deceptions.  This is always a convenient tool to have in your back pocket, as you don’t always walk into the ideal room to work with.  
Some tips to remember:
  • For a room that appears larger, pale colours can usually help.
  • Warmer, darker colours have the ability to develop a cosier atmosphere.
  • To “visually shorten” a room, the end walls can be painted in a bold colour.
  • To increase the overall size of a home, using a similar colour scheme throughout will do the trick.  This will create a “flow” through the house.
  • Colour can trick us into believing a room has a different temperature – in a room that receive a lot of sun, cooler colours can change the visual temperature, as warmer colours will do in a room that doesn’t receive much sunlight.
  • Should there be an unappealing architectural feature in your room, colour match it to the walls to make it less noticeable.  
Along with the well known primary and secondary colours, the colour wheel also consists of tertiary colours.  These are colours obtained when a primary and secondary colour are combined.  All in all, the colour wheel is broken into twelve basic colours.

When it comes to selecting paint colours especially, it’s going to be a challenge to both you and the shop assistant when you charge in and ask for green.  There are thousands of options, and knowing some of the correct terminology will help eliminate some frustrations.
  • HUE: The colour’s name.  (In this case, green.)
  • TINT: Also known as pastels, tints are hue’s that have had white added to them.
  • SHADE: Hue’s that have had black added.
  • TONE: The tonal value of a hue is changed with the addition of black and white.
  • VALUE: With the addition of white (a tint), the hue’s value increases, creating a high value colour.  A low value colour is created with the addition of black (A shade.).
  • INTENSITY: This is how bright the hue is.
Using pink as an example, one could say that the hue is red, that has had a tint added.
While there are entire field of study devoted to this concept, just remembering the basics can have a huge influence on a space.  However, don’t feel the need to keep strictly to these ideals – not everyone experiences colour in the same way.  It’s sometimes just helpful to have these on hand:
  • BLUE tends to have a calming, tranquil effect.  (Possibly good for a bedroom, for example.)
  • RED has the ability to change the visual temperature, and is also know to induce an appetite.  (Ideal for dining rooms and kitchens.)
  • YELLOW is a joyful colour, seen to be stimulating.  (Good for rooms used for entertaining, as well as smaller, poorly lit spaces such as hallways.)
  • PURPLE’s more popular shades, ranging from lilac to lavender, tend to have calming influences.  Brighter purples have associations with power.
  • ORANGE is also known to stimulate appetites, as well as stimulating energy.  (It could work well in children’s playrooms.)
  • GREEN is a refreshing hue, bringing nature inside.  It has a relaxing effect, and works well in almost any design context.
Plascon Greens – Source

    It’s often best to start from the floor, and work your way up to the walls and ceiling.  Should there be existing colours to work with, build your idea around those.  It’s often a good idea to frequently repeat colours in a subtle manner, such as scatter cushions, a pattern in the floor rug or the upholstery piping – this will help tie everything together and create balance.
    It’s advisable to not use more than three solid colours at a time in a colour scheme – rather add interest through textures and accessories, and remember that the less intense your shades are, the easier it will be to create a cohesive scheme.

    And then forget everything and do what you love!  Well, not everything, but remember that these are only the very basic building blocks of decor.  They’re not concrete rules that will incur the wrath of the greater decorating community, but rather suggestions to keep them in mind, to contribute to easy successes.  Be bold and fearless, but always remember that the end goal is to create balance.
    For further reading on colour schemes and balance, head over to the Plascon Colour Forecast for 2013, where balance played a large role, as well as this post on the wonderful John Jacob, and his passionate outlook on color use and its potential.  (He has a penchant for neutrals, but the principles remain the same.)  Also pop over to the Plascon Trends Pinterest account for stunning colour inspirations.
    Credit must go to the Design School Southern Africa for colour notes, and to the Design Milk CMYLK Pinterest page for colour scheme images.

    - Lee

    One Response to DECOR HOW-TO: COLOUR

    1. August 30, 2012 at 9:54 am #

      awesome post Che!! xxxxx

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