CREATING YOUR OWN INTERIOR SCHEME
Before you decide on your colour scheme it's worth taking the time to think about some of the factors that will influence the end result, and your appreciation of it.
What do you like?
Think about this question for a minute. The answer may not be as obvious as you imagine. Familiarity breeds fondness and it's easy to assume we only like the colours with which we are comfortable. So look around before you decide. You'll be amazed how easy and exciting it is to be inspired by the colour schemes in books, magazines, movies, public places and other people's homes.
But finally, there is no point in choosing colours you don't like, even if all the theory in the world says they are right. You probably won't feel comfortable with the results.
Shades of Indecision!
Most people find choosing their basic colours relatively simple, but then discover that selecting the tone that will produce the results they want is rather more difficult.
The Orientation of the Room
Now, look at the basic characteristics of the room. Which way does it face, where does the light come from, is it warm or cool? East-facing rooms, with their morning light may be almost any colour you like, but remember as the light goes, they often become dark early in the afternoon. Light, warm colours are usually the safest.
North facing rooms get most sun, so your colours should not be too bright. Be careful too with warm hues. Cooler colours are more relaxing and will make the room feel more inviting.
Rooms facing west receive the hottest light. Choosing warm colours will accentuate this and give them a Mediterranean feeling, a popular decorating theme. Some people find cooler, darker colours more comfortable.
For southerly rooms with no direct sunlight you should lean towards warm, light hues. If you prefer cooler colours go for lighter tones. Dark colours tend to appear gloomy and dull. A good way to lighten the effect of cooler colours is to break them up with a refreshing white trim, or introduce warm colours in the furnishings.
The Other Colours
Other factors to consider are existing colours in the room - soft furnishings such as curtains, bed linen, floor coverings and furniture. Match your choice of paint with them, and see how they work together.
How are your going to use the space?
This is where your personality and lifestyle are important. Do you have a young family who all like high energy, bright colours or are you more relaxed and traditional?
Remember, there are no "hard & fast" rules and the following is a guide only.
The use of the room will have a big bearing on the effect you wish to create. Sitting rooms in which you spend a lot of time may be light and relaxed or warm and cosy, while dining rooms which are used mainly at night can carry strong dark colours. People only pass through an entry or hallway, so these are the places where you can be bold and experiment with colour. Bedrooms are a matter of personal taste. Some people prefer warm cosiness while others like a cool feeling of space- and children's tastes can lead to amazing environments!
The Shape of the Space
Colours can change the shape of a room. It is important to understand how, so you can allow for this effect when planning. Warm colours seem to be closer to us than cool colours. Lighter tones advance when next to darker tones, which themselves appear to recede. We can use these effects to change the apparent shape of a room. For example, cool colours will make a low ceiling seem higher and narrow walls seem further apart.
A light tone on the far wall can shorten a long room by appearing to advance the wall. Similarly, a cooler tone will extend a shorter room. These two effects can work together to transform any room, so first decide whether you want to change them. Colour it dark and cool to move it away and warm and light to bring it closer. The Illusions with Colour section will help you to understand the different illusions you can create with colour. A square metre painted on the wall, ceiling or ideally a corner from a Sample Pot is an invaluable way to get an idea of the finished effect.
The type and amount of artificial light can also change the effect of the colours you choose. As a general rule, normal incandescent light globes give a yellow light, traditional fluorescent tubes and the new low wattage tubes produce a cool, blue light. Low voltage lights are warm and white.
If at first you don't like the effect of your lights on the colour you have chosen, remember that there are many varieties of light globe available. Changing these or your light shades can have a dramatic effect on the look of the room.
Every Detail Counts
'Details' or 'trim' are terms used to describe decorative or functional features such as skirtings, architraves, cornices, fireplaces and windows. You have a choice - they can be picked out and emphasised or smoothed over and hidden.
This is where choosing colours can be fun! To help you get started, here are some of the things that the professionals consider.
In a small room emphasising details will make the room appear busier and smaller. Conversely, smoothing them over will make the room appear simpler and larger. The best strategy is to pick out the details that will add interest to the room and play down those that will detract from the look you want.
For instance, if you have windows of different shapes, paint them the same colour as the wall and you'll scarcely notice they are irregular.
However, if they are well proportioned you may prefer to feature them, painting them with a different colour from the wall colour. In fact, if they are really handsome and a feature of the design, then traditionally the architraves and frames are highlighted in one colour, the openers in another.
Think about doors and other details such as pipes, conduits, picture rails and built in cupboards in the same way. Some are beautiful, others purely functional. Remember it only needs a subtle shift in tones or hue to bring out a detail, blazing contrasts can be difficult to handle. Smoothing over and getting rid of an unwanted detail is actually easier. Simply paint it the same colour as the wall or ceiling behind it and it will slip easily into the background and leave your room feeling simpler, more elegant and larger.
Judging Your New Colour Scheme
Remember when you choose your paint colours to be careful to take into account other colours in the rooms, such as floor covering and furniture. To see the full effect of your new colour scheme, it's important to return everything to the room once painting is complete. Only then can you make a proper judgement about your choice.