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  • Olivia Hartley

How to use colour in your home

One of the most common questions I am asked as an interior designer is ‘what colour should I paint my sons bedroom/my downstairs loo/my gloomy sitting room? etc.

It’s a reasonable question as most people recognise that actually the element with the biggest impact when decorating is usually the walls and therefore the colour.

So, I’m not going to bore you with all the nitty gritty scientific bits like tone, shade, tint and hue or even all the names of the colour schemes you can come up with from the colour wheel. What I aim to do is briefly describe the effect that colour can have in a room and illustrate this with a few pretty pics. The idea being it will give you some of the background info you need before making an informed colour decision. Of course you could contact use here at HartleyCox Towers for a consultation if you still don’t feel like making the plunge yourself!


HOW TO MAKE A ROOM FEEL COSY


Firstly, we have colours that we call advancing colours. All colours classified as 'WARM' (red/violet, red, red/orange, orange, yellow/orange, yellow) are typified as advancing colours as they give the appearance of coming towards you. Strong, warm colours can make a room seem cosy and intimate, look at the 'snug' painted in Farrow and Ball ‘Blazer’, a strong Orange/Earth based red. These colours look great in candlelight and are thought to help with digestion hence their popularity in dining rooms!


You can create the same cosseting effect with cooler colours such as Navy blue and Emerald Green but they need to be rich in tone.


RECEDING COLOURS - HOW TO CREATE A BRIGHT AIRY SPACE


The cool colours on the spectrum (green, blue/green, blue, blue/violet) are receding colours - in that they appear to go away from you. The paler versions of these colours are particularly useful in helping to create an illusion of space and are often described as light and airy tones so are useful in smaller rooms such as bathrooms or galley kitchens. The brighter versions can also cool down a too-warm room scheme. Some warmer tones can be used in the same way as long as the make-up is predominantly white as the image of this lovely blush pink hallway shows.



HOW TO MAKE A ROOM WITH HIGH CEILINGS FEEL COSY


In a room with high ceilings where a feeling of intimacy is desired a darker shade of colour on the ceiling will create the visual effect of lowering the ceiling. It can be achieved in a smaller space by painting the ceiling a couple of shades or tones darker than the walls. Or for a more dramatic effect as this image shows, using a very dark shade that is picked up as an accent colour in the rest of the room can look amazing!



HOW TO LIFT A CEILING


By applying the opposite and painting the ceiling in a pale colour, in this case bright white against walls that are at least a couple of shades darker the ceiling is visually lifted. This can be enhanced by painting mouldings such as coving in the same colour as the walls to lift the ceiling further.



HOW TO MAKE A SMALL SPACE LOOK LARGER


The use of pale receding colours on the walls and even lighter shades on the ceiling increases the feeling of space in this living room. Painting the architectural details such as the cornicing and fireplace and the built in shelving in the same shade means that these details also recede into the background for an unfussy finish and makes the most of the light in the room with the addition of mirrors to give depth and reflect more light back into the room



HOW TO MAKE A NARROW SPACE FEEL WIDER


Painting one end of the corridor in a much darker colour as shown in the image below draws the eye to the widest part (visually speaking) This could be further enhanced by using an advancing warm colour like a strong red, although any dark colour will fulfil this purpose. The use of herringbone rather than vertical lengths of wood on the floor also gives the illusion of width. Horizontal stripes can also be used on floors and walls to add to the feeling of width



HOW TO MAKE A SPACE FEEL MORE COHESIVE


Using a light colour in the same flooring material throughout the living/dining/kitchen and hall space makes the floor area look larger. Painting skirting boards in the same colour as the flooring can also give the impression of a larger floor space. The light flooring lifts the furniture visually, also helping to make the area seem larger than it actually is.



HOW TO WARM UP A NORTH FACING ROOM


You could opt for sunny shades of yellow, apricot and peach to warm up a cold north facing room but there are alternatives. Using pure white may make the room lighter but could also make it feel colder, stark and cast shadows on dark days so using warmer shades of neutrals rather than greys will warm up the room in a subtle manner. Hints of pink and green give a warm feel to this north facing room and the light yet warm toned wood flooring will help with this also.


A north facing bedroom designed by HartleyCox Interiors

HOW TO COOL DOWN A SUNNY SOUTH FACING ROOM


It would be advised to steer clear of sunny shades of yellow, apricot and peach and warmer shades of orange and red in a south facing room as it could make the room feel uncomfortable in the summer months. Using pure white may also emphasise the bright light and be uncomfortable at certain parts of the day. Using colours from the cooler side of the spectrum, in particular light values and tones of these colours will help to cool the room down and balance the amount of reflectivity in the room. Use of Ice blue and pale blue-grey with some natural colours to soften give this room freshness and an airiness that will feel comfortable in bright sunlight.




I do hope you have found some of the information useful - make sure you visit our face-book page for more updates, helpful tips and advice and competitions!


Signing off


Olivia

HartleyCox Interiors



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