Sim­ple rules of thumb for paint-colour choice

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Marc Atiyolil

Dear Marc: I have been try­ing to se­lect colours for my liv­ing room for about a month now. I just don’t know how to go about do­ing it. I visit paint sup­pli­ers and look at swatches, place a few to­gether, then bring them back home, but I just can’t de­cide! Help!

— An­gela

Dear An­gela: Your home is a spe­cial place you can call your own. There­fore, it’s only nat­u­ral that you want it to fully re­flect your tastes. Many home­own­ers have com­plained about how de­sign­ers make it look so easy when it comes to colour. Well, the truth is, de­sign­ers sim­ply fol­low a few sim­ple rules and ap­ply them to their projects.

When mak­ing your se­lec­tions, keep in mind what a colour scheme is made of: a dom­i­nant colour and a few ac­cent colours. The dom­i­nant colour usu­ally cov­ers two-thirds of all sur­faces in the room, whether those are the walls, floor cov­er­ings or fur­ni­ture. The ac­cent colours are used to ac­cent — as in, set apart from the rest — cer­tain fea­tures in the room, such as the ac­ces­sories and unique ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments. The key to suc­cess­fully us­ing your ac­cent colour is: Less is more. If you use too much of your ac­cent colour, then it dom­i­nates your colour scheme and it will over­whelm the eye. Ac­cent colours are a great way to in­te­grate your favourite bold colours into your de­sign that would oth­er­wise be too strong to be used as the dom­i­nant colour in your colour scheme.

Once you’ve es­tab­lished which of your colours should be used as the dom­i­nant and ac­cent colours, con­sider how the colour will re­act to your set­ting.

Have you ever no­ticed how the colour on your wall changes, depend­ing on the time of day and the amount of nat­u­ral light com­ing through your win­dows? There are many dif­fer­ent fac­tors that will de­ter­mine the over­all suc­cess of your colour scheme. First, look at the light in the room. Does the room have any win­dows that bring in nat­u­ral light? Is the room lit with the use of in­can­des­cent or flu­o­res­cent light­ing? All these fac­tors will change the fi­nal look of the colour ap­plied to your walls. Flu­o­res­cent light­ing tends to make colours look harsh, there­fore, you might want to con­sider adding black to your hue to warm it up. It also brings out ev­ery flaw in your walls, there­fore, it you have an older home with im­per­fec­tions in the plas­ter, con­sider choos­ing paint with a less glossy fin­ish.

The fin­ished prod­uct will also look dif­fer­ent, depend­ing on the co-or­di­nates of the nat­u­ral light. Is the nat­u­ral light of the room com­ing through a north or south win­dow? North-fac­ing win­dows tend to cool down the over­all at­mos­phere of the room and make it look cold and dis­con­nected. To cor­rect this, you can choose a rich dom­i­nant colour that will ex­ude warmth, such as a deep red, yel­low, or orange. Warm colours also help make large spa­ces feel warm and cosy, and cool colours, such as blue, green or pur­ple, help make a small space feel larger. Use warm colours to lower a high ceil­ing and cool colours to heighten a ceil­ing or widen walls. Colour can do won­ders to a space, as it can trick the eye with­out any walls need­ing to be moved.

An­other great way to use colour to your ad­van­tage it to use it in har­mony. We all have cer­tain pieces in our spa­ces that we keep for con­ve­nience and func­tion. We can har­mo­nize these pieces into our de­sign by ap­ply­ing the dom­i­nant colour to them so they blend into the over­all de­sign.

Colour se­lec­tion is the most im­por­tant part of your de­sign process. Choose your colours wisely based on these rules of thumb and you won’t re­gret it. Dear Marc: I have lived in the same house since the ‘80s and the last time I de­signed any­thing was when I bought the house. I did ev­ery­thing up to date at that time but haven’t fol­lowed the trends since then. I am sick of my out­dated look and want to have a beau­ti­ful trendy home. What has changed since the early ‘80s? — Jac­que­line

Dear Jac­que­line: The first step to chang­ing your de­sign from drab to fab is to ad­mit that your de­sign is in sad need of a facelift.

Take a good, hard look at your space. Look at what needs to be changed, what can be thrown out and which pieces you can eas­ily mod­ern­ize. Once you have taken in­ven­tory of your ex­ist­ing de­sign, flip through de­sign mag­a­zines and find a look you like.

Trends have changed a lot since the ‘80s. Chances are, your sofa uses the same fab­ric as your win­dow cov­er­ings and that same fab­ric is also found on the ac­cent pil­lows. That is what I call the bor­ing look.

To­day’s trends are all about be­ing bold and us­ing things that would have never been seen to­gether years ago and plac­ing them to­gether. How many re­mem­ber the old say­ing blue and green should never been seen ex­cept on Hal­loween?

Well to­day, we look at de­signer spa­ces and we see blue paired with green ev­ery­where. In the ‘80s, it was all about blend­ing ev­ery­thing to­gether. To­day it’s all about con­trast­ing ev­ery­thing to make a state­ment. No more mono­tone de­sign.

—Canwest News Ser­vice

Colour se­lec­tion is the most im­por­tant part of your de­sign process. Choose your colours wisely based on these rules of thumb and you won’t re­gret it, says de­sign ex­pert

Marc Atiyolil.

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