Living with colour
Daydreaming about your next home project? Sarah Gane discover show our choice of colour in our living space can greatly impact our daily lives
MAKING A STATEMENT
This somewhat dramatic backdrop really allows the furnishings and accessories to take centre stage. “Colour can be used for impact by making one feature wall in a bolder, darker colour along with lighter shades on other walls [and surfaces],” architect and designer Dr Pragya Agarwal tells us. “Painting is the most cost-effective and fun way to change your spaces,” Beuwerk Colour’s Bronwyn Riedel adds. “Even if you are renting, you can always paint it white once you leave. Go with what you love, it’s important to feel happy in your home.”
Colour helps us make sense of the world, but when it comes to our home or work environments, nothing can really prepare us for the often- daunting selection of options available. Even for the most creative people, it can be all too easy to stick to something ‘safe’ or bland.
Yet colour has more of an impact on our lives than we might initially think: “Imagine having to spend every day in an extremely small room with dark walls and a tiny window,” explains interior designer Melinda Kiss ( keyholeinteriors.co.uk). “It wouldn’t take long before you’d start feeling lethargic… this sums up the impact colours can have on our daily lives.”
Whether you’re in a rented studio apartment, tiny terrace or something a bit more spacious, selecting a colour palette should be a conscious decision that reflects how you want your living space to feel.
“Colour is everything in a room,” confirms Bronwyn Riedel, Creative Director and co-founder of Beuwerk Colour ( bauwerkcolour.com.au). “It’s the first thing you experience… it gives the personality of the room and determines how the light will refract, which gives the space its feel.”
“Research in neuroscience and psychology has shown the effect that colour has on our brains…” says Dr Pragya Agarwal, architect, designer and founder of the Art Tiffin (thearttiffin. co.uk). She continues: “Light is made up of colours and when it strikes our retina, it converts into electrical impulses that pass onto the hypothalamus, which in turn affects our hormones. Different colours have different wavelengths and therefore they affect the endocrine system and, consequently our mood and stress levels in different ways.”
Since everyone is different, it’s not a one size fits all approach, but there are good starting points and general rules to keep in mind. “Decorating with bold, unexpected colours creates drama, whereas neutrals help to create a calm atmosphere,” Charlotte Cosby, Head of Creative at Farrow & Ball (farrow-ball.com) tells us.
“Colours like Pink Ground, Light Blue, Breakfast Room Green and Tanners Brown all promote relaxation and reflection in interiors, helping to turn our homes into spaces that offer escapism from our increasingly nomadic working lives. Likewise, darker colours, such as Studio Green in dining rooms, lit by candle light often create a feeling of intimacy.”
Taking into consideration the strength and temperature of a colour – whether it has warm or cool tones – is very important
SPARING SPLASHES OF COLOUR
Even if you have opted for a calming, neutral shade for a bedroom, you can still add warmth, colour and personality with accessories. “Go neutral and add splashes of colour with cushions, rugs and decorative accessories,” says interior designer Melinda Kiss. “[It] might seem like a safer option but it actually allows no room for mistakes and it forces you to be creative. It’s a versatile colour scheme so it’s great for people who need to re-use their existing furniture or don’t want to commit to a bolder design just yet.”
“Follow your gut instinct: choosing a paint colour is as much to do with your lifestyle as it is with the light and architecture of your home,” Farrow & Ball’s Charlotte Cosby tells us. The English Design Company’s Design Director Katy Lloyd- Cowden agrees: “There has been a great deal of analysis on how colour makes us feel, and what it is associated with, but really it boils down to personal tastes […] I use colour to create a home, a place of sanctuary and an extension of the homeowner’s personality. Something that will bring joy on a daily basis.”
too since results can vary massively, as interior designer Fiona Brass (fionabrassinteriors.com) explains: “Blues and greens certainly create a calming effect; however, in my experience it really depends on how the colour is used and applied to the overall design. A pale blue feels wonderfully traditional and at home in a beautiful cottage, but a deeper blue with a touch of black feels a lot more grand. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that either can’t be used the other way around.”
Much like scent, colours are also linked with our own memories and experiences, helping to shape our preferences and associations with them. So it’s best to use your own preferences and then analyse the space they will be used in.
“If there is very little light in the room – say, on the north side of your home – I don’t think cool tones like green or blue work as well as warmer tones,” says Bronwyn. You should also consider the proportions of a room and the amount of natural light too: “This can affect how the colour is perceived. A lounge room that has roughly equal proportions can look great with stronger colours as it envelopes the space, making you feel cosy and enveloped by the colour. A kitchen- dining room that is open to the outside space looks better with lighter colours so the eye can travel through the space and take in the entire room.”
While red is considered a warm colour and lucky in feng shui it can be overstimulating in an environment such as a bedroom. “Red invokes passion,” says Fiona, “and is seen as a warm colour, but it can come across as a cold substitute if it is used out of context or the shade is not correct for the overall scheme.”
If you’re considering adding colour into your interiors, it’s also worth taking the whole home into consideration rather than just individual rooms: “Use different shades of the same hue to build a connection between separate areas of the house,” Melinda tells us. “A simple colour wheel will give you plenty of ideas. And, most importantly, choose a palette that makes you happy and goes best with your personality.”
Colour wheels are organised from cool to warm tones, and we have one for you to play with in this very issue! Flip to page 50. This segmented circle serves to guide us through the bright, happy and exciting warm colours of red, orange, yellow
through to the cooler, calming tones of purple, blue, green. Harmonious, analogous colours sit next to one another on the colour wheel – they work together with one another; while complementary colours sit across from one another – using these will create a strong contrast that’ll really pop and stand out. Monochromatic, meanwhile, means to use tints, shades and tones of a single colour. Layering this up in the form of wall paint, furniture and soft furnishings can be really effective.
Nevertheless, before you start it’s important to spend the time on the preparation. Notice how you use the space and the light it gets at different points in the day. Gather together snippets of inspiration to create a physical collection. While Instagram, Pinterest and interiors magazines will undoubtedly be the first places to look, having a bunch of screengrabs stashed on your phone or laptop is never as good as having a physical moodboard put up in the room itself. “A moodboard is a great way to get a feel for the room. Collect images of looks you love. Order some large format colour brushouts and look at them vertically against the wall, in different lights,” explains Bauwerk Colour’s Bronwyn. “People often look at their colours horizontally on a desk, but the colour will look very differently on the wall.”
She continues: “A good rule I like to use is to go a little bit dirty with your colours, as any small amount of colour you see can really pop once the whole room is done. This is especially true of colours like green and pink. Also, remember to have fun: it’s only paint – you can always change it.”
Meanwhile, if money or time is tight, there are still plenty of opportunities to add personality. “You can create a room full of colour and vibrancy without ever having to pick up a paintbrush,” says interiors blogger and design consultant Melanie Lissack (melanielissackinteriors.com). “Bring colours in with textiles and soft furnishings, such as cushions, throws or rugs. Add vibrant art on the walls in coloured frames. You can have a completely plain white room but it can look like a riot of colour if you just add in the right accessories.”
RELAXATION IS NOT JUST FOR BEDROOM
“If you lead a busy schedule you may like to use calming pastel colours in the living areas to help unwind and promote relaxation,” says Farrow & Ball’s Head of Creative Charlotte Cosby. “[Test] colours in-situ to see how the colour choices respond to the changing light in a space – in particular during the times you use the room and how well they work with a room’s features.” What we really like about this kitchen is its unfussy approach. The playful pops of colour in the kids’ pictures are framed in with the same colour palette as the units, shelves and splashbacks. A room that is practical yet stylish.