Better Living Choosing Colors

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Once the spatial planning is in place, the designer will need to start sourcing materials, furniture and accessories and then develop a decorative scheme for the project. Colour is a key consideration at the stage and this chapter examines both the designers often use sample boards to show clients how scheme might look and these will need to be worked up to include any detailing and accessories. The actual client presentation requires careful thought and preparation to ensure that ideas are well- communicated and 'sold', and these days a presentation can include moving image and sound in addition to the more traditional plans, boards and illustrations.



Colour is arguably the most exciting tool at the designer's disposal. It has the potential. To communicate instant atmosphere and style, and to create visual illusions. It is also one of the first aspects of an interior that people will notice; the may not mention the actual colour scheme, but they will remark on how cosy, rich, inviting, cool, spacious, elegant or intimate a room seems – impressions directly created by the shades of colour used.


Colour psychology

With so much emphasis on the holistic side of interior design, the psychology of colour has been thrown into sharp focus and it is now well-understood that different colours affect the mind and emotions in variety of ways. This is obviously something that designers should consider when deciding on a final scheme for a room or client. All colours from part of an electromagnetic spectrum and each colour vibration has its own wavelength which produces varying responses to which individuals react physically and emotionally, Red, for example, is the colour of vitality, energy and aggression. It is bright and exciting but can produce real physical reactions in the form of raised blood pressure or pulse rate. Blue, on the other hand, is the colour of peace, harmony and devotion but is also said to focus and sharpen the mind, It can be used to conjure up impression of wide vistas and skies but, in some circumstances, can make the occupants of a space feel cold. Green is a harmonizing and healing colour and is regarded as a decorating classic for its versatility; in the same way that it provided the background for neutral earth other colour. Yellow and orange are stimulating and energizing colours which are ideal for entertaining rooms, while soft pinks are soothing , and purples and lilacs add calm and spirituality to a room. Brighter pinks are said to spark passion. White over large areas reflects colour energies back into a room and, while hard to live with, will emphasize a feeling of light and space, If used as a bright accent, white can introduce an element of excitement. Black, by contrast, absorbs all colours and reflects nothing into a room and so can act as an energy barrier and make an area feel repressive. If a designer were seeking to create a rich. Womb-like space, then brown, with its tints of red and yellow, would be a better option than black, as it would appear earthier and warmer.

            The psychological aspect of colour can become particularly important in a commercial situation where it can be used in a manipulative way to create a certain environment. It may, for example, be used to prevent customers from staying too long in a fast-food restaurant or, conversely, specifically encourage customers to linger in a more formal restaurant. Colour can induce calm in potentially high-stress areas such as medical waiting rooms or can promote the retail process by guiding customers towards specific products in shop interior.   



Colour associations

There are common associations with colour that can play a part in the design of a space; pink for a feminine scheme, for example, or white for purity and innocence. There are pitfalls here, however, since such associations can vary considerably from culture to culture. In the Christian religion, for example , red symbolizes the blood of Christ and martyrdom; it is the colour  of cardinals' robes, and saints' days are written in red in the church calendar for the Chinese, red is traditionally the colour of luck and happiness, yet for the American Indians and in Celtic lore, it is a colour associated with death and disaster.


Period Colour

Since colour is also associated with different historical interiors styles, a designer might need to carry out the necessary research when working on a period property, even in accurate reproduction of the original colours is not required. Neoclassical colours in eighteen-century England, for example, included pale and medium greens, lilac, apricot, opal tints and a stronger range of blues, green, pinks and terracotta, while among the colours associated with American colonial style at the same time were yellow ochre, blue-grey, ox-blood and deep blue-green, which was often teamed with burnt sienna. Although influenced by the English colours, the American pigments had more sheen than Georgian eggshell paints because they were mixed with milk. In France, the classical influence could be seen in the popularity of terracotta. Rich colours such as Pompeian red, chocolate brown, olive green, indigo, Prussian blue, burgundy and gold were fashionable throughout Europe in the nineteenth century, although it became de riguer in France to decorate rooms entirely in one colour, such as blue or green. Many manufacturers have now brought out specialist period-paint ranges that are invaluable for restoration or conservation work.


The perception of colour

Many factors can alter the way a colour actually looks when it is finally used in an interior. Light can make colours seem totally mismatched – even natural light at different times of the day can affect colour considerably. Such are the vagaries of light that shades that seem to match perfectly in one part of a room may look at odds in another part of the room. Indeed, it is not impossible for even wallpapers or fabrics carrying the same batch number to appear mismatched in different parts of a room due to variances in the quality of light. Various types of light cause different colour rendition and so it is essential to check samples under all the lighting conditions in which they will be seen, both day and night. When there are light fittings that have a shade, samples should be viewed under the lamp as the light shining through the shade can totally alter the appearance of a colour. Clearly, a designer needs to consider the orientation of a room when putting together a colour scheme as well as the amount and quality of natural light entering the room,. It is also worth considering that since the eye only perceives an object by the light it reflects, and the colour and quality of that light vary in different parts of the world, a colour scheme that work satisfactorily in one country might not transfer well to another.

            Colour trends are monitored carefully and there are publications and combinations to help designers keep their schemes up-to-the minute. It is also interesting to note that changes in fashion can affect the way colour is perceived, so that when staple colour ranges are viewed alongside newly fashionable ones they can appear totally different.


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