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

Project Calm - - Contents -


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 ( key­holein­te­ri­ “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 ( bauw­erk­ “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. 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 (far­ 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


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 (fionabrass­in­te­ri­ 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 (melanielis­sack­in­te­ri­ “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.”


“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.

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