Colour can drastically affect your mood, so it is important to always bear
this in mind when embarking on interior design projects. I am sure you will already have a
favourite colour or group of colours, so build these into your overall scheme. Using
colours that you know lift your spirits will make your colour choice work for you.
There are no hard and fast rules about choosing colours.
Create your own sense of harmony by creating your own colour spectrum. It really is not
wise to go for a colour purely because it is in vogue at the moment - you will soon live
to regret it!
Where to begin
Begin by considering the colour of all the elements in the
room, not just the flat surfaces. It may well be that you already have many items of
furniture, accessories or soft furnishings that you will have to incorporate into the
scheme, so these will have to form the bones of your plan. If you are starting totally
from scratch, then so much the better, you have a clean palette to start with!
When using a large expanse of colour, remember that it will
always appear darker and stronger than you imagine from having seen just a small fabric
swatch or colour sample. This is particularly true of paint colours or wallpapers.
TIP: Buy a small sample pot and paint a large section on a piece of scrap
plasterboard or something similar. Move it around the room and look at it at different
times of the day. You will be amazed at how different the colour will appear in natural
and artificial light. The depth of colour will also vary depending on the surface to which
is applied and the amount of light it receives. If in doubt, always go for a shade
If you want more than one paint colour on the walls, then its
is best not to go for a contrast, stick with the same colour but in a different shade,
making it lighter or darker. A slightly muddy look in paint colours is
particularly popular at the moment. Farrow & Ball, Sanderson and The Paint Library
offer a really unusual and comprehensive selection.
TIP: A trick that many decorators use is to chose one
colour and paint the ceiling in the lightest shade, the walls in the next shade darker,
the dado darker still and the woodwork in the darkest shade using a flat oil based paint
for the greatest effect.
Curtains, floor and wall coverings
If you choose a dark colour for your curtains and are
thinking of placing them against a pale wall, you will need to be aware that they will
make a very strong statement. I feel that it is far better to tone down the colour of the
curtains or deepen the colour on the walls slightly to avoid too strong a contrast.
When looking for floor coverings, there are lots of
different options to choose from. Sisal and its modern day derivatives will always be
popular, although they do not give the comfort and luxurious feel of a woollen carpet. The
colour continuity and harmony you get from using the same coloured carpet throughout the
whole house is well worth considering but you would be well advised to choose a neutral
tone that is easy to live with! It also allows for greater flexibility in choosing the
individual colour schemes for each room.
TIP: If you decide on carpeting, request a large sample
piece from your supplier rather than the 10 cms square usually provided by the
manufacturer. The same rule applies with carpets as with fabric and paint, too strong a
shade will be overpowering when seen en mass, so go a shade lighter.
TIP: If you are re-furbishing an entire room and have the
luxury of starting from scratch, then leave the paint colour or wallpaper design until
last. This tends to make the fundamental choices of fabric, floor covering and accessories
a lot easier.
Pattern and colour in the textiles you use, or perhaps in one
very special article like a piece of ceramic or a painting, could form the bones of the
colour scheme with wall colour used to tone down the overall palette.
It is best to steer clear of strong colours on the walls in
rooms that you use very frequently. Go for paler tones, creams, grey-greens, blue-greys
and ivories. Hall and staircases however are often neglected in terms of interesting
colour schemes, but they are important as they make a first impression on entering the
house and they serve the purpose of linking individual rooms creating an overall feel to
the house. As we spend little time in them, merely passing through, then they can take a
stronger shade. Hallways and staircases always get a lot of traffic and can quickly become
shabby if you have not thought long-term of how your floor and wall coverings are going to
stand up to a lot of wear and tear.
TIP: If you would
like to experiment with using dark colours on walls, you would be well advised to restrict
their use to rooms that are only used after dark.
Dining rooms in particular, can benefit from a darker colour
scheme. To have a formal dining room that is rarely used is a luxury today. How about
turning your little used dining room into a dining room come library. If you have the
room, you could fit in a small sofa or comfy armchair. Your darker colour scheme could
well include dark green, navy blue and deep red, colours that we typically associate with
libraries. Blue is usually accepted as a cold colour, but the rich, dark blue shown in the
example at the top of the page has been teamed with cream and the resulting affect, used
in a master bedroom, is anything but cold. The two-tone tasselled trimming and cord bring
the two colours together.
|This very traditional drawing room has dark oak
furniture. The owner chose a variety of different textures and patterns on the fabrics and
fitted a deep velvet pile woollen carpet to match. It is a room that is predominantly used
in the evening, as it faces east and gets little natural sunlight, other than first thing
in the morning. The lighting consists of central chandeliers, matching wall lights, a
picture light over the fireplace and various table lamps.
TIP: A trick that
many interior designers use is to insert one red article in a room, no matter how small to
serve as a focal point.
However, beware of using red as the dominating colour in a
room. It is a very strong, aggressive colour and therefore difficult to live with, but one
small and imposing red object, be it a chair or a vase of flowers, can give the room an
|The strong red in this lambrequin
and cushion is best used in small quantities. In this case, the roman blind picks out the
colour of the stripes in the main fabric. The row of double piping on the blind has been
cut on the straight so that the stripes run in perfect lines down the lambrequin and
across the roman blind.
If you still feel totally at a loss when it comes to colour,
then a trip to KA International might help, or alternatively,
purchase their catalogue if you are unable to visit one of their stores. They have very
wisely broken their range of fabrics, furnishings, trimmings and accessories into five
definite colourways, blue, red, neutral, green and yellow, with a separate selection of
fabrics for children. Study their ranges of fabrics paying particular attention to how
they have co-ordinated their colours within each particular colour block. Using this as a
basis, you will have a fair idea of which colours appeal to you most!