Choosing colours for your own home is often a matter of personal taste. This is less likely to be the case if you’re doing up a property with a view to letting it. It’s generally the case that neutral colours are preferred, to avoid putting anyone off a property with a décor they might find offensive. Even so, if you have completely free rein to decorate your home as you wish, there are still some general guidelines about colour choices which you should probably be aware of – even if you take the attitude that rules are meant to be broken.
The nights are closing in…
Colours can influence our perception of space and light. It’s generally agreed that pale colours create a more spacious impression, while dark colours visually give the impression of moving the walls towards you, and thus a room painted in dark colours will generally feel smaller than the same room in more receding light tones. If you must have dark colours, then you can introduce them as accent colours and/or use them to accessorise the space.
Additionally, colours can create feelings and moods. Red is rarely thought of as being a relaxing colour, so you’d have to be quite clever to succeed with red for a bedroom design. But, of course, nothing is impossible. Blues can be relaxing, but can also make a room look cold if the wrong hue is used in certain places. Some colours, and colour combinations often have other associations in many people’s minds. For example, orange and black often suggests Halloween, red and green are used to give a Christmassy feel. This could be very attractive in the right places, but it’s unlikely that many people would want to live in a Christmassy grotto all year round.
Here to stay?
You might also want to think about how long the décor is expected to last. It’s easy enough to give a room a lick of paint and completely change its look. However, when choosing floor coverings, you’d normally expect them to last for longer. Depending on your household and lifestyle, you might be happy enough to replace the carpets every five years or so (assuming you chose inexpensive carpets in the first place). However, when it comes to tiling, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, most people would tend to think of this as being a once-only job. The same could be said for wood floor coverings. Even though we can be fairly adventurous with our decorating at times, when it comes to choosing tiling, we’ve tended to be rather conservative and gone for neutrals every time. This is because we’ve seen choices such as tiling to be “permanent” and therefore not something we could risk tiring of too easily or quickly.
Having got the permanent décor sorted, it’s quite easy to ring the changes with different soft furnishings. For example, a room with a neutral background can be quickly transformed with a new sofa cover, curtains and rugs.
Another thing you have to consider is how much light the room gets. When you paint a wall, the colour can change throughout the day depending on how the light changes between sunrise and sunset. If you’re keen to get the colours exactly right, you might find it worthwhile to buy some little tester pots and try before you buy for the whole room. This isn’t really something we recommend, though, because not only does the light change throughout the day, it can also change according to the seasons, and even over the years. It doesn’t really seem possible or viable to predict how a colour is going to look at every moment of every day. And anyway, life’s too short. It might be better just to choose a colour you like and get on with it!
That said, it’s worth being aware that colours can sometimes look darker than you expected, and this could have the unwanted effect of closing in the room in a way you didn’t anticipate. As a rule of thumb, if we’re in any doubt over the colour, unless we have a very large room to play with, we usually err on the lighter side.
The BBC Homes website has a nice little section about colour theory if you’re interested in learning the traditional guidelines. Alternatively, if you’re planning to become a professional designer you might like to check out Creative Bloq for a more technical explanation of colour theory and the use of colour in general. Creative Bloq is also a real treasure trove of many useful things – and a lot of them are free!
Whatever you choose, it should be something that you’re comfortable with and something that makes you feel positive emotions and gives you a feeling of well-being rather than stress. That doesn’t necessarily have to mean creating a space with a relaxing feeling. In the kitchen, for example, you might want to have a colour scheme that inspires you to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into doing some enjoyable and challenging work. Most people don’t go to the kitchen to relax, unless it’s also the family hub and a pleasant place to dine. A home office or study is similar. We assume you don’t go to the office to relax or sleep! And, on the subject of home offices, that leads to clutter. That destroyer of the feel-good factor. The enemy of a calm and happy mind. We’ll be tackling clutter in a later article.