It is just like that home improvement commercial where the woman stares at paint chips taped to her wall while she pulls her hair out. That is how the majority of home owners feel when it comes to painting a room or rooms in their house.
This is not rocket science. And it isn’t as hard as you think it is..with a little help from the professionals. Interior Designers have a bag of tricks to give rooms a characteristic atmosphere and alter the way they look to the observer.
How Color Works
Back in grade school we learned that all colors are derived from three primary colors: red, blue and yellow. These colors and black and white can be blended in different measurements to produce the rest of the colors of the color wheel. If you mix two primary colors, you get one of the secondary colors. Mix a primary colors with a secondary and you will achieve what we call a tertiary color and so and so forth.
The Color Wheel
You can add white to any color to make it a paler version of itself while adding black will make your chosen color darker. As you attempt to decide on which is the color for you, getting a color wheel might help in your endeavor. There are many types of color wheels that are free for printing off of the internet. Having a physical interpretation of color is much easier than imagining your color of choice.
When you look at a color wheel you will see three colors that seem to be related to one another. If you were to paint a room in these tri-groupings of colors they would be ‘harmonious’ with one another. Colors that are opposite from each other, such as violet and yellow, are what is thought of as ‘complimentary’ colors. If these colors are used together, they give contrast and create a dramatic and eye-catching room. If you want a tranquil room then you might want a room with a neutral color and a dark blue in the furniture. However if you want a room that is warm and exciting contrasting colors of orange with blue accents in the furniture would be the direction to take.
Those Neutral Colors
The colors that do not appear on the wheel are those loved and hated neutral colors. These are white, black, gray and lighter tints that contain a lot of white such as cream and beige. These are the perfect background to bolder colors but will bland out a room if used for the walls, ceilings and all of the accents(such as furniture, drapes, etc). Many people are scared of what color to use with these neutrals being afraid to make a colorful mistake. But as any designer will tell you, it is only paint and can be painted over. Take chances with your domain. Instead of using paint chips (as in the commercial I described earlier) why not buy a small can of your chosen color? Or just paint one wall and see if you like it for a day or two. You’ll never know until you try!
Light and Dark
A color’s strength is important. Light colored surfaces reflect light much better than dark. You can also hide unattractive objects such as that radiator by painting both of them the same color. This can be done with a matte latex or alkyd finish.
Light and dark finishes also stir the brain. Light colors such as bright yellow (don’t you have more energy when you enter a yellow kitchen?) stir the cortex while dark colors such as hunter green tend to quiet brain patterns.
If you are one that likes to get up at the crack of dawn and has lot of energy then light colors are most likely your speed. Dark colors are perfect for that person seeking a more docile domicile or one who enjoys sleeping through those early morning hours! Your lifestyle is definitely something to consider when choosing colors.
Warm or Cool?
Warm colors contain yellows and reds. They have a tendency to make wall and ceiling surfaces appear to move in on the occupant. It also makes rooms materialize into a more intimate and cozy surrounding. Cool colors which are based on blues and greens tend to have the opposite effect. They making walls and ceilings draw back and the room will give the impression of being light and airy.
Other Tricks of the Trade
One trick is ceilings. Paint a high ceiling in a darker color than the walls they will seem lower. In opposition, a light colored ceiling [than the walls] will give the impression as being higher especially if you change the color at a picture-rail level.
Though dark colors give a room a sense of coziness, you might not want a small room to come off even smaller! Break up the color scheme with a subtle wallpaper pattern or even mirrors to give the room of sense of being larger.
If you are painting a bedroom and want it to be a place of relaxation, keep with analogous colors or those next to each other on the color wheel.
Adding contrast to a painted wall such as stippling, dragging or sponging is a great detail to add to a room. But save these techniques for just one wall. It will appear too ‘busy’ and take away from the overall design.
‘Step By Step Interior Painting’ by Julian Cassell and Peter Parham
‘How To Choose and Use Color Like A Professional’ by Judy Ostrow