Help in Choosing the Right Colour Scheme
Colour is powerful and has a direct impact on how we feel. Green relaxes us as it makes us think of nature, whereas red stimulates the heart and circulation – it's exciting, attractive and hot! This is why you'll often see deep shades of red used in dining rooms – the colour stimulates our appetite. It literally gets our juices flowing.
Everyone has certain colours which appeal to them. If you're not sure what colours you prefer, have a look in your wardrobe. What are the accent colours that you see amongst the base colours of black, navy, grey and beige? Shades of red? Blue? Yellow? Green? This is a good starting point for choosing the colours you'll like in your home.
And what about those neutrals? These are colours too, and many people love the serenity of these quieter colour palettes. Neutral schemes of cream, taupe, beige and brown remain popular because these smart and tasteful tones are relaxing and comfortable in the home. However, the success of neutral schemes relies on the use of textural fabrics to add visual interest. This is vital because a room full of smooth beige fabrics and flooring lacks vibrancy and looks flat.
The starting point to using colour successfully in your home is to look at the Colour Wheel, which shows the spectrum of the colours in the order in which they naturally separate when light is refracted through glass (as with a prism) or water (with a rainbow). The primary colours of red, blue and yellow are the foundation of the Colour Wheel and they sit equidistant from each other to form a triangle. Sitting in the gaps between the primary colours are the secondary colours – green, orange and purple. Finally, sitting between the primary and secondary colours are the tertiary colours of red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple and red-purple.
When you think about which colours to use in your home, also consider how light or dark the colour is (how much white or black is in the colour), and how saturated it is (is it an intense, vibrant fire-engine red, or a muted brick red?).
The Colour Wheel is a wonderful tool which helps you see colour relationships at a glance. Let's look at some key colour schemes for your home:
Harmonious Colour Schemes
Harmonious schemes are created by using colours which sit next to each other on the Colour Wheel, for instance, yellow, orange and red. A colour scheme made up of colour harmonies will always be successful because of the close relationship these colours have with each other. You might choose a wide striped fabric in terracotta and white for roman blinds, a floral in yellow, terracotta and red for a sofa and a red ottoman for a light-filled conservatory.
Complementary Colour Schemes
These colours sit opposite each other on the Colour Wheel - red and green, blue and orange, and purple and yellow. They vibrate against each other, or clash. That sounds like a bad thing, doesn't it? But used the right way, they work wonderfully together. A small amount of the complementary colour in a room (a deep pink armchair in a pale green room for instance) can look wonderful. Think of using complementary colours as accents in a room.
Monochromatic Colour Schemes
Rooms decorated in varying tones of the same colour are called monochromatic schemes. Using a mix of textures (linen, cotton, silk, wool) and tonal variations are the key to success in this scheme. A room with pale blue walls, a navy sofa, and robin's egg blue cushions would be an example of a monochromatic scheme.
Accent colours really liven up a room. Introduce accent colours on cushions, rugs, artwork and accessories, but don't overdo it. An accent is just that - a touch of colour to bring a note of vitality to a room. Think of red cushions on a grey sofa in a room with white walls and black furniture. That touch of red gives the room some zip.
Neutral Colour Schemes
These are the workhorses in interior schemes. Neutral colours include beige, brown, black, grey, white, cream and taupe. These colours provide restful elements that are important to any scheme. It is important to mix these colours up with different textures (silk, wool, leather, cotton, etc.), to give these rooms visual interest and a tactile appeal.
Cool Colour Schemes
These are centred around blue on the Colour Wheel and include purple, blue-purple, blue, blue-green and green. Cool colours recede visually, so a classic solution to making a small room appear larger is to paint it in a light tone of a cool colour. Cool colours work well in south- and west-facing rooms in the northern hemisphere, and north- and east-facing rooms in the southern hemisphere, because they bring a fresh note into these warm and sunny rooms.
Warm Colour Schemes
Warm colours sit around orange on the Colour Wheel, and give the visual impression of advancing in a room. A feature wall painted deep red will make the wall appear closer to you. Warm colours are also a good choice for rooms facing north and east in the northern hemisphere, or south and west in the southern hemisphere. Where natural light is indirect and grey shadows can be an issue.
Vibrant Colour Schemes
Vibrant colours vibrate with energy and are best used sparingly because of their strength and vitality. An accent of lime green adds zest to a scheme, for example, but a bedroom painted lime green vibrates with so much energy that is difficult to sit still, let alone sleep!
Why not bring some colour into your home? Add that accent. Paint that feature wall. Have a go. Bring your colour personality to life.
© Adrienne Chinn - London - Published in Fine and Country