Demystifying Colour For Your Interiors!

A few years ago there was an amusing commercial on Indian television of a young couple trying to imagine a certain colour for their room, a heady combination of sunshine, summer mangoes and some candy, the spouse desperately tries to visualise the same in her head and fails! Choosing colours for your walls is always made out to be a daunting task. There is fear of being unable to foresee the outcome, lack of conviction in choice of a certain colour and the permanency of the choice of paint, to add to the woes is the cost factor. Which simply means you cant choose the wrong colour, so what do you do? Its quite simple really, lets demystify the most basic tool, the color wheel.

The above image is one representation of the colour wheel, it explains the few basic things you need to know before you can go on to choose your interior colours. There are 3 primary colours :

1. Yellow

2. Red and

3. Blue.

They are best kept in mind as three family of colours, known to help set different moods. These colours help us derive what is called the secondary colours through combinations of the primary. This gives us :

1. Yellow + Blue = Green

2. Yellow + Red = Orange and

3. Red + Blue = Purple.

So now that we have primary and secondary colours, we can combine these two to get tertiary colours :

1. Yellow + Orange

2. Orange + Red

3. Red + Purple

4. Purple + Blue

5. Blue + Green

6. Green + Yellow

The below image helps get an idea of what these colours look like:

color-wheelSo now that we understand what the primary, secondary and tertiary colours look like from the above image, lets look into what the 3 circle differentiation  means.

1. Hue : The center band of colour in the above image represents the true colour in it’s pure form and is called the Hue.

2. Tint : The inner most band of colour is the Hue mixed with any amount of White and is called a Tint.

3. Shade : The outer most band of colour is the Hue mixed with any amount of Black and is called a Shade.

4. Tone : Adding varying values of Grey to the Hue gives us varying Tones

5. Value : Value is nothing but the amount of black, grey or white added to the Hue to create varying Shades, Tones and Tints.

As far as picking a colour for the walls, we will only be working with these basic elements. Most of us have one or many favorites in colours. The one sure way to find out is to look into our wardrobe, we will have many of our clothes leaning towards a certain favorite colour. Mine is blue and it reflects more in my husband’s wardrobe as I’ve been helping him pick out his shirts! So this helps you find a colour that you like and feel comfortable with. But clothes and walls are different screams your brain! Well yes it is and no, it really is not. It helps to do away with myths that certain colours are not good on walls, like red. Any colour that you like can work beautifully well on a wall, its how, where and with what else, that matter. To understand this better, let us take a look at the room basics that play an important role in picking a colour:

1. Size : In today’s world of diverse real estate options, you might have a small apartment, a big colonial styled house or a medium sized villa with both big and small rooms. Choosing the right colour can have a big impact on the space illusion. For a small room its advisable to paint lighter colours as they give an illusion of increased space. In larger rooms where you want to bring the walls together and create an illusion of close knit area, darker colours do well. Even rooms that are narrow and long can have darker colours painted especially on one accent wall to make it look wider and less narrow.

2. Natural Light : Any colour looks different during the different hours of the day depending on the light. It also looks different under lamps of varying types. A bold colour such as red or even a grey can make a room with less light seem even more dark and suffocating. Warm colours such as yellow, amplifies light in the room and cool shades such as light blue soothes a very sunny room. Try the hue in 3 varying shades or tints across different parts of the room such as near the window, opposite to the window and in the darker corners of the room. Check to see how the colours look during the different parts of the day and in different areas of the room before you finalise.

3. Wall or Ceiling or Floor : While it is easy to imagine just about any colour for the walls. The ceiling and floors cannot afford such treatment. Ceilings are usually best kept light with less dark colours. Floors on the other hand can try more dark colours for a bold statement, that is of course if you need a painted floor. In India we hardly paint floors, unless someone has gone the traditional method with a red-oxide flooring.

4. Purpose of the room : Understanding the purpose of the room also helps in deciding the colour, as it sets the mood for the room like little else. The kitchen/dining area and the hall can do with different colours, so can formal and informal areas, or even intimate spaces such as the bedroom.

Let us take a look at what colours ideally mean and the moods they help create:

1. Yellow : Warm, playful, bright, positive, vibrant, high energy

2. Orange : Rich, in India it is also a very ethnic color and goes well with brass /silver and bronze accents. Summery and energetic.

3. Reds : This is a bold shade, glamorous, passionate, solid, dominating, elegant and stylish

4. Blue : Cool, water inspiring, beach love, sky, winter, the darer tones are rich, exotic and unique

5. Green : Nature inspired, cool, mystery, dark shades represent masculinity, glamor and allure

6. Pink : Feminine, subtle charm and elegance, pretty

7. Brown : Solid, hardworking, warm and rich, comforting, reliable

8. Black : Sophisticated, dominating and stylish

9. Grey : Dull yet versatile, calm, reminder of the monsoon times, great pair with another cool color.

10. White : Blank, reflects light, airy, empty, clean and precise.

While choosing colours for the interiors, we use a certain colour scheme, to provide us with enough variety that each room may develop its own personalised mood, at the same time providing the house with a cohesive and unified look. There are multiple colour schemes to choose from, the more variation in colour the more exciting the interiors. The same colour throughout the house or room can make it look boring. Three aspects contribute to the range of colour and texture in a room, the view available through the door/window, the wall colours and the decor items, all of this have to form a well connected whole. Sounds easier said than done? Let us look at a few ways to accomplish this:

Familiarising oneself with the colour wheel is the best way to get started, which has been mentioned at the start of this blog. Here is the colour wheel again:

Decorating-101-color-wheel-value-and-balance-1There are multiple methods to choose colour combinations or colour schemes. The complimentary colour scheme is the opposite colours that seem to make each other stand out more prominently. As seen in the colour wheel that would be the Blue and Orange, the Red and Green, the Yellow and Purpe/violet. They need not refer to the colour combination on walls but rather the elements of decor. Such as, a blue accent wall, grey companion walls and orange accents in the decor in the form of throw cushions and lampshades.

The combination can be analogous, which is the colours next to each other in the colour wheel. Such as the  blue and blue greens or the yellow and yellow greens or orange and red orange. So the room can have an accent wall in the colour 3 under the Orange and companion walls of the colour 1 under yellow orange. It can also be Monochromatic, which is represented by the tints and shades of the same hue, as shown in the colour wheel, it consists for example the dark to very light colours in the blue palette. The accent wall can be a 1 under yellow and the companion walls in 8 under the same yellow. You just need to pick another colour while adding the ceiling into the mix.

While initially testing waters, pick a bright colour of choice for the accent wall,  a light colour from the same family range (analogous) for the companion walls and pick compliment colours (opposite colours in the colour wheel) for the decor accents. Let us take a look at some colour schemes that work beautifully.

green yellow white

Green theme with white and gold accents work beautifully in this striking living room.

blue yellow white

Blue, yellow and white provide this vibrant and colourful living room.

Red theme diningRed accent wall, rich wood texture and orange companion wall adds style and royal look to this dining room.

Bedroom-Decor-Ideas-with-Brown-Color-SchemeBrown and red come together in this bedroom to create a sense of vibrancy along with calmness.

kitchen yellow green brown

Yellows, greens and browns work cohesively in this inviting kitchen.

yellow purple

Yellow, purple and white work well in this living room through different elements ranging from the walls to the room decor items and curtains.

teal blue grey

This living room is absolutely chic in a combination of Teal and grey with pops of colour in orange, green and white.

blue grey green

Blues, greens and grey tones come together with the right proportions to ensure this living room does not feel less warm!

brown grey green

Brows, greens and grey tones set the earthy feel to this modern living room.

green orange white

A warm and striking room in orange, white and touches of blue.

(All images are taken from Google image search, credit goes to respective image websites/owners, the blog and images enlisted here are not for any commercial purpose and are purely for information only)


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