How to shift out of neutral and refresh your rooms with colour
Color stirs the emotions. I’ve seen people react both physically and emotionally to the colors that surround them — whether they were aware of it or not.
Research has shown that red makes our hearts beat faster. Blue is calming, yellow enhances concentration, and green refreshes. The effects of bold, dramatic color are far-reaching, and they cannot be ignored. Color can motivate, de-stress, improve one’s disposition, and even help control appetite.
Knowing this, why don’t more of us break away from the humdrum world of white walls and bland furnishings, and infuse color into our own homes?
The trouble is that some people aren’t even sure what colors they like. Others fear that bright, colorful rooms may be thought of as childish, unsophisticated, Bohemian, too trendy — or worse, not trendy enough. Some worry they will tire of a color too soon. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that color can be a powerful, versatile decorating tool — if you know how to use it. But first you need to understand how color works, and why it affects us the way it does.
What is color and how do we see it? All light is made up of color, but the human eye and brain must work together to translate light into the colors we’re familiar with. In interior design, as in art, harmony comes from a pleasing arrangement of colors. Connect rooms with color Even two walls painted different colors in one room can work — as long as the trim is the same and the colors aren’t too far afield.
Because of the associations we have with colors that appear in nature, some are considered cool (green grass, blue water). Others are warm (red fire, yellow sun). Remember that all colors contain other colors; red, for example, may have a blue base or an orange base.
In selecting colors for your home, you should begin with the colors you like, then think of how they play into a color scheme, which is generally composed of three hues, one of them a contrasting accent color that adds visual excitement to a room. Waking up made easy A cool green vase makes the warm reds and purples pop in the bedroom at left. You don’t always need multiple colors to enliven a room, though. The cozy yellow bedroom at right radiates energy and warmth.
As you develop your scheme, consider a color’s value — its relative lightness or darkness. A shade is a color with black added; a tint is a color with white added.
A slight variation in color could be why the green chintz you thought would be a perfect match to your dining room walls feels all wrong: Maybe it’s the wrong shade or perhaps it has too much of another color, like yellow, in it. By holding your swatch and paint chip up to a color wheel (see How a color wheel works) you can determine how close they really are.
Keep it warm Combine warm colors for effect, like the yellow walls and deep-red cushion
If you’re tempted but still not sure about a particularly strong color (and that tiny paint chip just isn’t doing it for you), ask your designer or paint store to order a larger sample from the manufacturer. At some stores, you can also purchase a small sample can of paint so you can test it before committing. Another option is “virtual painting,” a great feature that some paint manufacturers offer on their Web sites (see See it first, paint it later).
As “safe” as paint is, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing colors:
Paint always looks stronger on walls than it does on paint chips.What appears subtle on paper may be a bit too much on your walls, so choose your shades accordingly.
• Use the same trim color throughout to visually unite adjoining rooms painted different colors.
• The same color will appear darker on the ceiling than it does on the wall, so tint the ceiling color a bit by adding white.
• Do a “brush-out” first. Paint your color on a large sheet of illustration board or foam core and then look at it in your room. Be sure to move it from wall to wall.
• Light affects your impression of color, so check your choice in natural light (both morning and afternoon) as well as artificial light.
• Even things out. Be sure your color choices share the same level of intensity — the relative purity or brightness of a color — from room to room. Intense colors are vivid and fresh, while low-intensity colors are more understated.
When considering color, don’t stop at the walls. A colorful floor can completely transform a room. Whether you choose a vibrant area rug, tiles, carpet, or even stenciling to conceal worn-out hardwood, covering a floor with color is a simple way to add drama to a space. And remember: If you tire of your bright, multicoloured carpet after a while, all you have to do is roll it up and put it away.
Furnishings — both upholstered pieces and case goods — can make a color statement, too. For example, I used simple, red-lacquered chairs in my kitchen to pump up the energy and complement my natural pine farm table.
Accessories are ideal for pulling colors together in a room. You can use pillows, throws, table runners, artwork, floral arrangements — anything that pleases you —and as many or as few pieces as you like.
How a Colour Wheel works :
Color and the relationship of one color to another are easier to understand if you have a color wheel, an arrangement of 12 colors in a circle in the order of the spectrum.
Colors are defined as primary, secondary or tertiary (see color wheel below). Primary colors are those that make every other color in the spectrum: red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors are those that are equal combinations of two primary colors: purple (red and blue), green (blue and yellow), and orange (yellow and red). Tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary and its adjacent secondary color in equal proportions (red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, and red-purple).
According to color theory, a good combination is one that uses two colors opposite each other on the color wheel, three colors equally spaced around the color wheel, or two pairs of colors (a total of four) opposite each other.
A few more things to know: Primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) make a bold statement in any decor. Secondary colors (green, orange, and purple) can be engaging, but they sometimes need to be shaded to work together. Tertiary colors (blue-green, yellow-green, red-orange) can combine for a very sophisticated look.
A monochromatic — or one-color — scheme can be interesting if you use several shades of the same color.
Colors that sit side by side on the wheel can be harmonious when used together. An example of this is red-orange and orange.
Combining a primary color (red) with a secondary color (purple), can create an unexpectedly exciting space.
See it first, Paint it later :
Take heart. Now you can visualize paint colors — and change your mind many times over — long before you even lay out your drop cloth. You can do it online (or buy the software) at several paint manufacturers’ Web sites. You can even import and colorize actual digital photos of rooms from your own home.
Check out the following sites and click through to begin virtual painting:
Benjamin Moore : www.benjaminmoore.com
Create a Mood with Colour:
Research has shown that colors have a definite physical and emotional effect on us. Here are some findings that may help you choose the right color for the mood you want to create in your home:
Blue is a calming color that relaxes and refreshes. It induces tranquil feelings and is a popular choice for bedrooms.
Yellow is warming and cheerful. It increases energy and lifts spirits, making it a good color for a breakfast room.
Orange is a boldly cheerful color that encourages conversation, so it’s a smart choice for a sunporch or kitchen.
Red is a passionate, dramatic color that stimulates the appetite, making it a favorite color for dining rooms.
Green is soothing, refreshing, and cleansing. It’s a good color for a bathroom or a bedroom.