How colour changes spaces

How colour changes spaces

Are you confused by colour? Not sure what’s a cool or warm hue? Don’t know how colour can impact the look and feel of a room? George WASHINGTON shares his tips on the hot and cold of colour theory.

When it comes to decorating, probably the one thing people stress about more than anything else is choosing colours. That’s because colour is complex. It can manipulate a space, create a certain mood, be calming, frustrating or make you happy.

Here are a few tips to help you feel more confident about choosing the right colors based on what you want to achieve when decorating particular rooms of your home.

‘I want to make a small room feel larger’

One of the most important things to remember about color is that warm colors advance (they feel like they are coming towards you) and cool colors recede (they move away from you). Remember this and you can easily change your interior without doing massive renovations. A cool color scheme helps walls disappear and make the space feel larger, so cool colors are great for small rooms. Of all the colors, white reflects the most light, so mix that in with your cool colors to give the smallest room in the house the biggest chance of appearing larger.

‘I want to make a large space feel more intimate’

When it comes to interiors, having the luxury of a lot of space is not always a good thing. Large rooms can feel impersonal, especially open-plan living spaces that typically combine three spaces into one – the kitchen, dining area and lounge room. As warm colors advance they can help large spaces feel cosier, so by painting all the walls a warmer color the open-plan space will feel more intimate and the separate rooms come together more as one.

Warm colors can also help focus attention on a particular space within the large open-plan living area. Use warm (and darker) colors if you want to make a space feel more intimate, such as the lounge room, and then keep the kitchen and dining space cooler or lighter to help distinguish this separate area. A warm color in a large rug and cushions, and even the couch, will make the lounge room cosy and inviting.

That makes sense, as it’s the place you want to relax in. On the other hand, the kitchen is for working, so it benefits from being lighter and brighter.

‘I want a room to be calm and serene’

Blues and greens are famous for their calming qualities so the perfect choice for rooms that need a calming influence. They’re great for a home office or for the bedroom or anywhere you want to relax.

‘I want a room to be visually striking’

Rather than go all out crazy with paint color on the walls, you can keep your walls neutral and experiment more safely with color when you focus on smaller items in a room such as accessories, cushions, side tables or lamps.

Using patterns and textures is a great way to layer a room with color. Patterns can manipulate the energy of a color, for example, an energetic red can become a subtler element when used with other colors as part of a pattern, while a serene green can become bolder in a strong pattern. It’s a great way to experiment and play with color to help give you the confidence to introduce more color (especially colors you love) into your home.

‘And… don’t forget about light’

Remember that light – both natural and artificial – really impacts on color. You can alter the strength of warm and cool colors by the color of your lighting. A cool interior with reflective surfaces and cool lighting could result in a clinical or stark feel. Changing light to a warm white can warm up the space. On the other hand, if you love warm, rich colors but live in a hot climate, putting cool light in brings down the intensity of the heat in the color. Light can also really change the mood of a room, which is why I think it’s important to have a range of light sources rather than rely on just one main ceiling light. Table and floor lamps are great as they help you dim the light to make a room cosier at night or they can brighten up a room that doesn’t receive much sunlight during the day.

George Washington is the CEO Invision Concepts Limited, President Interior Designers Association of Kenya and Lecturer at the Technical University of Kenya

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