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Choosing interior colour

By Serena K Agius

April 30, 2019

Welcome to our second blog. Many people have trouble choosing colours or are afraid of using colours because they don’t understand them. Even for artists and designers, the study of colour can take months or a lifetime. Here are a few guidelines to help you when choosing colours for your space.

Understand the colour wheel

1. Be conscious of whether you are choosing Warm or Cool primary colours of red, yellow and blue. This is the colour temperature.

2. Secondary colours are mixes between two primaries.

3. Tertiary colours are tints and shades of a specific colour (hue), whether primary, secondary or tertiary.

4. Tints have white added to the main hue to make them lighter and more pastel until they approach white.

5. When judging whites look for the undertone- that is the underlying hue (colour)

6. Shades are colours with black or complementary opposite colours added (opposite on the colour wheel) to create darker colours that make greys and browns. Refer to the bars below the colour wheel with points 3-6.

7. Again, when judging earth tones for interior colour, look for the underlying hue (colour pigment) as a guide to what will work in your space.

The colour scheme starts with the floor

The floor is the primary factor in assessing what you will do with all the other colours in the room. It sets the tone. From there you can decide how all the colours of furnishings will be balanced.

Assess the colour temperature of the floor with reference to the colour wheel, then use a similar temperature in furnishings.

1. If the floor is pale and neutral there is scope to introduce other strong colours in furnishings as accents. Furniture should be similarly lightweight and neutral in colour.

2. When the floor is dark, a black or brown timber, carpet, or tile, dark frames and furniture will work best. In contemporary interiors, go for neutral furnishings in cream upholstery, light greys, copper or burnished steel.

3. With a dark floor and Classic interior there is scope for introducing strength with strong harmonious colour to bring it all together.

4. Accent colour works well in furnishings where the floor impact is strong.

5. If the carpet is highly patterned introduce harmonies of colour in blocks in the fittings and furnishings

Light & meaning

There is no colour without light. Light affects everything, so understanding your orientation when choosing wall and accent colours, is important. Morning (eastern light) is usually cool and white whereas afternoon light usually has a strong yellow glow that varies with the seasons. Most of us know intuitively that red is hot and passionate; blue is calming, cool and conservative.

1. White is the combination of all colours in the light. Black is the absence of any colour wavelength in light.

2. To create balance, a warm north or west-facing space should have cool colours. For a cooler southerly or easterly facing space, warm reds, pinks, oranges and warm whites with undertones of the former, may be used.

3. Colours have meaning - we respond to them emotionally. Being conscious of their meanings helps to choose the right colour to activate, enliven or calm a space. Look up the meaning of the colours you like.

4. You can be brave in setting a mood for a space with strong colour as long as there is plenty of light and you are conscious of the effect it will have.

5. When using accent colours there should be no more than two (or harmonious variations of them) per room. 6. Decide whether you want a coloured atmosphere with wall colour. Reflected coloured light is another way to do this. I'd love to hear your comments about this blog post and if you've put any of these tips into action.

Send your comments, which may be published, using the contact form here. A Colour ID offers colour consultations for painting work and furnishings design.

If you have a project we are happy to help with any of your colour decisions. Find more information on the Services page or simply complete the contact form.

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