February 26, 2018
by Katy Husband
There are so many ways to make a room look beautiful – one of those ways is through colour. Choosing colour is intrinsically personal and subjective. There is an energy and mood that surrounds every tone and shade of each colour that, at some level, we make a connection with when we make our colour choices. Ultimately our choice says something about who we are, what we love and how we want to live.
Some of us know what colours we like and feel comfortable with but become confused when faced with endless choices of paints, fabrics and furnishings. Others find it tricky to define what they like (or don’t like) about colours. I thought in this post we could look into colour and break down some of the components that make up choosing colours.
Firstly, there is no such thing as right or wrong colour choices, a lot of the decision making boils down to personal choice. Of course, combinations of some colours do work better than others but the best place to start is to figure out what colours and styles you love. How I hear you ask….???
WHERE TO START
When most people think about colour they tend to think of paint – but colour applies to everything in and around your home. It is important to consider some of the points below and have figured out a rough plan because it is a jungle of choices out there!
F E E L
A good place to start is to consider how you want your home to feel, or more accurately, how do you want to feel when you are in your home? Are you seeking a home that has cosy comfortable vibes or a slick contemporary feel; a classical space or an eclectic mix of styles? The energy in our homes is very often derived from the way we live in them so it is important to think this step through first.
L I V E
Consider the function of the room you are considering the colour palette for – is this an entertaining space or should it have a quieter feel? Is this a retreat for one or a family room; does the space require walls for display or is it more of a calm retreat? The way the space functions will dictate the flow in the room and how you choose to live in it.
L I G H T
The colours of a room never remain constant and often change throughout the day according to different lighting levels and the weather conditions outside. Because of this it is important to sample colours over as large an area as possible and observe them over a number of days as the changes will have a significant effect on the way the colour is represented and therefore how it feels. Of course, both light and the shade and tones of colour can be manipulated and altered depending on the mood you wish in the room.
- Consider the natural light entering the room. A room which receives plenty of natural light allows a wide choice of colours and can be decorated from the palest of shades through to intense bolds and brights.
- Dark rooms, without good natural lighting, can suffer from looking lifeless and dull with pale shades of colour. A combination of overhead and lamp lighting will brighten the space however consider colouring with richer, deep shades and lighting artificially, even by day.
- Artificial lighting will make colours appear very different to what they are during the day and the type of artificial lighting, placement and number of lights will make colours vary.
- Overhead lighting can be harsh and almost appear to drown out colour – it can also create dark shadows where the lighting through the room is unevenly placed. There is an amount of control over this by the placement of the lights and using dimmer switches.
- Soft lamp light can be a very flattering light for the colour in rooms at night and should be considered when selecting colours also.
All the factors above will have a bearing on the colours and palette you choose to live with and it is bringing them all together which can cause stumbling. However, journeying through and finding your own colour language will be such a fulfilling exercise to do.
Rather than focusing on current trends research through magazines, countries that inspire, museums and art galleries, films and theatre, scour the internet and ultimately gather ideas together to hone your own individual style.
CHOOSING COLOUR – 60-30-10
Once you have established a basic group of colours you like, divide them into groups of main or ‘body’ colours and accent colours. I tend to do this fairly naturally but one way you can approach selecting colour is using a 60-30-10 rule.
When decorating a room start off by choosing one dominant colour to apply throughout, usually to floors, walls and ceiling. This is my 60 per cent – my unifying hue. These body colours need to be chosen carefully for items which are reasonably permanent and cannot be changed on a regular basis. These include tiles, carpet, sofa and curtain fabrics, bricks, paving, roofing and fencing.
Next, add in a few hues that harmonise – the 30 per cent. These are items like upholstery and major pieces of furniture in complementary colours.
Finally, the 10 per cent – the accents. These colours take the overall scheme to amazing heights and give your room the ‘wow’ factor. These accents can vary from glam metallics to intoxicating contrasts or deeper richer shades.
Key points to consider:
- Identify the main colours that you love. Are they cool or warm colours? Your main colours will determine the type of white or neutral you will most likely need
- Balance the tone and shade. Mixing a colour with a neutral reduces the colourfulness and alters the tone or shade. For those that like extra homework – technically a shade is a colour with black added and is therefore darker than the original colour; a tone is produced by adding grey and is softer that the original colour. When you have a colour and you may wish to turn it ‘up’ or ‘down’ – you are essentially finding shades of the same colour. Using multiple shades of one colour can be a harmonious way of breaking up a palette without straying too far from the original path.
- Find your neutral – this is the colour that is the framework of your scheme and underpins the colour decisions. Very often the default choice for this is white but it could equally be grey, ecru, ivory, champagne. If you do select white it is vital that the white complements the other colours, for example a rich deep blue needs a clear blue-based white (a yellow-based white might look quite dirty). In general, a yellow-based white will feel more classical and warm, a blue-based white will feel cool and crisp and a red-based white works well with warmer tones.
- Add an accent; sometimes choosing a simple palette of colours lends itself to adding an accent colour that may have the effect of adding definition and defining the space. Pops of colour can add a jolt of energy or perhaps just an understated point of contrast.
- Storyboards or Moodboards are something that anyone can do and are a great way to compile ideas, pictures, samples and swatches and view them together as a group. This process allows you to refine your colour and material selection and help you view your space with fresh eyes.
- Colour can be used to enhance things you like, perhaps a painting or artwork but can also be employed to hide flaws. If your room is an odd shape or lacks a particular feature or focal point, consider defining an area with colour.
Remember to have fun and if you need any help on your colour journey we would love to help!