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The Importance of Colour

When looking to refresh a room or specific area of the house, one of the main considerations has to be the existing palette of the room.

Not much else of your new scheme will work, if the existing base colour is all wrong.

Some people naturally have a knack for colour and understand intuitively how to pull it all together. Others can’t see the wood for the trees and struggle matching an outfit, let alone compiling a whole new room scheme. It would be no fun if we were all perfect at everything.

Regardless of which category you fall in to, picking the right colour, is like choosing the right piece of music. It evokes an emotional state in us.

Of course, there is a proven system for understanding colour tones and a colour wheel chart can help you visualise how colours relate to each other. What works well together and what doesn’t.

Primary Colours: Yellow, red and blue.

Secondary: Green, orange and purple.

Analogous: Colours that are neighbours on the spectrum such as green and yellow or red and purple.

Complementary: Colours that oppose each other on the spectrum, such as green and red.

Outside the Primary, secondary and tertiary colours, you then move to undertones. The softer, calmer tones of neutrals and naturals.

When considering colour for a room, I always suggest trying to forget what you think ought to fit and instead, go for what you personally think looks beautiful.

Everyone after all is different and when you are decorating your own home, you want something you feel good in, not what other people love.

How a space feels transcends how it looks.

Clever use of colour can completely alter the mood of a space. It is useful therefore to understand first what mood you want to evoke in the specific room – calm, sensual, vibrant, drama, elegance and so on.

As covered in my earlier post on 'Let There Be Light!', there are a couple of considerations to take on board when changing the colour palette in a room, and that’s where an interior designer can often help clarify the look and feel you are aiming to achieve.

There are the neutrals and naturals

The bright vibrant tones

Followed by the darker shades

Effortless design is generally where you have mastered the technical properties of colour and the technical principles applied before the final colour specification stage.

Clever use of colour can highlight or obscure an object, emphasise shape or diminish it, highlight architectural detail or hide it.

Colour, is quite simply, the single most important element of design.

A white room is never just white. There are shades of white, layers, reflections of other objections, shadows.

Where your room is small or confined, you can open it up by painting a back wall or ceiling in a lighter, soft colour. By contrast, to make a space feel more intimate and cosy, simply bring the walls forward using a bold or dark tone.

You can break up or zone a space by utilising a varied colour palette. Adding a pattern or texture can add interest and depth.

Smooth or mirrored surfaces will reflect light. Heavy fabrics such as velvet will absorb it.

The key to adding colour is repetition. Think of it as a formula.

The Base Colour – is the foundation everything else is built on so it’s important you are comfortable with it. Consider it as the the back-drop of your home. It’s not the really exciting part of the design but it is fundamental as without it, your whole look will seem disjointed. Your base colour generally forms circa 50% of your scheme, like wall colour for example.

The Accent – is the architectural detail. It’s pleasing to the eye but not necessarily the piece de resistance.

Much like matching a outfit, you are looking for a colour that will complement the base colour of your grey trousers, for example. You might not want to wear an all grey outfit, so consider colours that will work together.

In an interior room design, your accent colour might be your sofa, possibly your flooring, a rug and will usually form around 30% of your scheme.

The Pop – is the critical part of the scheme and cohesively pulls your design together. It could be an eye catching feature wall, soft furnishings, an armchair, stunning chaise or a piece of bespoke furniture and will neatly fall into the 15% category.

Of course, like most things, such formulas are there to be challenged and are successfully done so from time to time.

When planning a colour scheme consider the emotion, the feeling, the sense of atmosphere or drama you want to create.

What activities will take place in the room, who will use the space and at what time of day. What is the shape and orientation and where does natural light enter and how long does it stay. What mood is required, what colours are in the adjacent rooms, do you want to create flow, how will you incorporate existing floors, furniture and window treatments, how is artificial light used in the space, what are your colour preferences – light or dark, vibrant or muted tones.

Whatever your style, select samples, test and view them at different times of the day and build up your intended colour scheme so you can see how the theme will work in conjunction with one another.

The best design is invariably the one you make look easy.

Photo source: The Cornish House, Pinterest

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