Choosing a colour scheme is very much down to individual taste. Most people have an idea of what they would like but don’t know how to achieve it.
That’s why the role of the professional decorator is an increasingly important one. Usually it’s simply a case of developing the customer’s thoughts towards a practical and successful outcome. But the advice you provide on colour could be a key factor on whether a small job to paint a bedroom becomes a large contract to decorate a whole house or commercial premises.
Useful colour pointers
Some paint colours can look misleadingly pale when viewed on a horizontal plane, so it’s always best to demonstrate the paint colour in a vertical position when choosing paint schemes with your customer.
Brush out sample colours onto squares of lining paper to stick to the wall.
Your customers will be able to see the colour in the room and appreciate the impact the environment can have on colour.
In rooms facing south or south west the tendency is for plenty of sunlight and for the room to assume a warm character. It can be advisable to suggest cooler colours in these rooms to avoid glare or garishness. In contrast, rooms with a north or north east aspect will benefit from warmer colours.
Avoid the use of more than three strong colours (hues) in a room and unless the ceiling is unusually high or has special architectural features, it’s often advisable to keep to tints of white.
The colour wheel has a warm and a cool side. Half the spectrum is of warm colours (red, orange, yellow, pink, apricot, peach, terracotta, gold, warm browns, tans, plums, warm purples and lilacs).
These shades are often called ‘advancing’ colours because they seem to come towards you and in the process make a room appear smaller. As such they are ideal for highlighting a special feature or to achieve a warm, cosy environment.
On the opposite side of the wheel are cool or ‘receding’ colours, (blue, green, jade, turquoise, mint, yellow-green, greeny-gold, blue lilacs and cool purples). They seem to be retreating from you, in the process making the room appear larger.
An overbalance of either end of the spectrum can be disorientating, creating a claustrophobic effect in the case of the warm colours and a detached, unwelcoming one in the case of too many cool colours.
The ideal is a balance between the two extremes, with a judicious use of neutral colours (black, white, greys and beiges), to soften, add emphasis or generally create harmony.
Whilst neutral colour schemes have the advantage of blending easily with existing furniture and wallcoverings, they can look bland if not broken up by stronger colours in pictures, lampshades, ornaments and soft furnishings.
As a decorator you will be familiar with the time spent deliberating over fairly subtle differences in one single colour. This is because every colour has a range of tones. The bright values are called hues and adding white gives you paler tints, whereas black produces darker, richer shades of that colour.
Working within the same colour family is probably the simplest way to construct your colour scheme. By settling on the lighter tints or darker shades of a particular colour selected to harmonise with the carpets or furnishings, the impact will be stunning.
These are colours which sit directly opposite one another on the colour wheel and produce a contrasting colour scheme where reds and greens, oranges and blues unite to create highly stimulating decors.
These are colours which are next to one another on the colour wheel and create a harmonious effect.
Tints, for example, from the brown and yellow section of the range, can make a room seem very peaceful, and because of their close relationship with neutral white, deliver an open, spacious feel.
Things to consider for each unique interior:
All rooms vary in shape and size plus everyone’s tastes vary and therefore there is no universal formula for a successful colour scheme. However, a simple examination to identify any problems will usually lead to a most effective solution.
- Check to see if the ceiling is out of keeping with the size of the room. Is it too high or too low?
Reducing the contrast between the wall and ceiling colour will help give the impression of a higher ceiling.
- Are the doors symmetrically positioned? Are they better treated as a feature or blended in?
Use accent colours to pick out features or the same colour as the wall to create a seamless effect.
- What size are the windows? Are they small, large, too high, too low or in strange positions? Which way do they face?
Position your samples in different parts of the room for more accurate colour representation.
- What type of light does the room receive? Is the light constant throughout the day?
Again, view your samples at different times of the day for accurate colour representation.
- Is it to be used by adults or children?
This will influence the colours, but also whether any special effect paints are suitable – chalkboard paints, whiteboard paints, magnetic paints, glitters and more are available and can create exciting environments for children.