Every room needs some sort of emphasis in the colour scheme to give point to the whole design. For instance, the table in a dining area could be emphasized with flowers. They will be shown off to better effect if the pattern of the wallpaper is not too strong. The visual emphasis in a room should relate to its function. In a dining area the main function is eating-which centres around the table. If too strong a colour or pattern is used here, the table will be subdued-where it needs to be highlighted. Once you have learn the basic rules of planning colour schemes you will be able to experiment more ambitiously. A well planned colour scheme will make your home much more attractive to the visitor-as well as a more comfortable place to live.
Author: Painters & Decorators
Painters and Decorators in London
When choosing a colour scheme it is often hard to know where to begin. Colours work best when they are related to their surroundings. For instance, the view from the window may suggest the dominant colour for a particular room. A picture, or the pattern in a set of curtains, may lead to a starting off point. Select a subordinate colour in the picture, or pattern, as the dominant colour in your scheme for the room. Remember, there is no such thing as the ‘right way’ of choosing colours. If you intend to keep the existing carpets or curtains it is quite pointless selecting colours which clash with them. Always start with what you have, and build from there. As far as possible, consider the walls and curtains first. These cover the major area in any room.
Next, choose the colour or pattern of the carpet, and the colour of the ceiling. Having selected the colour scheme for the major areas of the room, you should consider the shade and patterns for any upholstery. Now you can think about the smaller objects in the room-like ornaments and small cushions. If your basic colour scheme is in light and restful shades, splashes of stronger colours will add interest to the room. Remember, any colours you consider must be seen in relation to the room you are decorating before a definite choice is made. Mistakes are difficult to avoid completely-but they can be kept to a minimum. The final result of a successful colour scheme should be one of harmony, there should be some sort of theme. Try to establish a definite connection between living areas. This can be done by using the same dominant colour, or pattern, on walls or in curtaining. A living room, where you wish to relax and spend a lot of time, will benefit from subdued rather than pretty patterns. Also, there should be no strong contrasts in colour, or tone. Pretty patterns and strong contrasting colours are best used in rooms which are only used for brief periods-like bathrooms.
A sense of balance and proportion is all important. Colours and patterns should help to highlight the focal point in a room-be it a fireplace or a large table. Try to create a balance between patterned and plain surfaces. If you do this the eye will be neither over-stimulated or bored. Every room needs some light areas, no matter how dark the overall effect of the colour scheme is. Some surfaces, or objects, should be accentuated even in the most subdued of rooms. A room decorated in warm colours needs a cold colour somewhere for visual relief.
Before choosing your colour scheme there are several considerations to be taken in account. If you are fortunate enough to be decorating a large, well lit room, with a southerly aspect, you will be free to experiment with almost any colour scheme you may have in mind. On the other hand, if the room is on the small side the use of warm colours will make it look smaller still. The effect can be quite cosy, but also claustrophobic. Aim at increasing the sense of space as much as possible. This involves using dull, cool colours on most of the larger surfaces like walls, ceilings and floors. The sense of space can be further increased if you incorporate the colours used in the small room into a larger, neighbouring room.
This will prevent the small room from seeming to be cut off from the rest of your home. The pattern of the curtains in the small room might well be used for the wallpaper in the next room. If you paint one wall in a darker colour than the others, it will have the effect of opening up the room. Don’t choose a colour that contrasts too strongly with the others. The effect may be to diminish the room size. A room may be dark either because the window is small or because it faces north.
The use of dark colours over large areas of such a room will tend to accentuate the darkness. If the room is used mostly in the evening, find out if the colours you choose will look very different in the shop compared to your home. Shop lighting is deliberately chosen for display purposes, and is usually much brighter than domestic illumination. It is best to concentrate on light colours, as these will brighten the room considerably. If your room is quite high, paint the ceiling in a dark shade. This will have the effect of lowering the ceiling. Don’t use this method if your room is of an average height, as the result will be to ‘lower’ the room to an uncomfortable extent.
Chromatic intensity refers to the chromatic brilliance of a colour. Adding grey to any colour will lower its intensity. Of the primary colours, red has the highest intensity, followed by yellow, then blue. The intensity of the colours you choose will affect your colour scheme in a number of ways. A room decorated in very intense colours will be highly stimulating-reminiscent of the colours at a funfair. However, you’ll find such strong colours quite unsuitable for a living room and other leisure areas of your house, where you spend a lot of time. Only use intense colours in small doses. Flowers, cushions and ornaments present excellent opportunities for highly colourful temporary displays. Remember that a room decorated totally in low intensity colours can be very dull. The stimulus of stronger colours in small areas of the room is essential. Try to create a balance between the two extremes. For living areas, it’s a good idea to concentrate on gradual colour changes for the walls. For instance, you could start off with a brilliant red and, by adding more and more green, merge gradually into a rich brown. In the same way, you can merge yellow into cream, or blue into steel grey. By adding white or black you can change a colour totally. For example, red can be turned into a restful pink by adding white. The intensity of the colour you choose should be related to the size and shape of the surface to be covered. Warm colours like red, orange and yellow are very dominant particularly in a small room. This can be extremely tiring on the eye. Such colours are best used for highlighting the colour of objects like lampshades and ornaments. Blues and greens are cool, retiring colours. They are good when used as background shades. Objects painted in these colours tend to lose definition. This can be useful in painting ugly but essential-furniture. You would be well advised to avoid the use of contrasting full intensity colours, such as red and green or orange and violet. They can provide initial excitement, but the long term effect will be tiring and dazzling.
A good sense of colour is essential if your interior decor is to be a success. Apart from the technical skills involved in painting and paper hanging, you need to be able to combine colours and patterns for maximum appeal. With a little care you can choose a colour scheme that will add greatly to the beauty and comfort of your home. Before starting to decorate your home, you should spend some time considering various colour schemes. When choosing colours that go well together there are no real hard and fast rules to bear in mind, and there is no such thing as a good or bad colour. People’s reactions to colour vary tremendously, and your feelings about a particular combination of colours might be quite different from someone else’s. The kind of colour scheme you choose will depend very much on the use to which a particular room is to be put. For instance, a good colour scheme for a study might be mainly brown-dark leather chairs with mahogany furniture and woodwork. The walls could be a cream or light chocolate colour, and the carpet a plum colour. Silver ware could be placed around on shelves, or in a glass fronted cupboard. With this sort of colour scheme the effect will be of solid and subdued comfort. This kind of colour scheme is ideal for a room like a study. In rooms where you relax for lengthy periods of time the emphasis should be on cheerful yet unobtrusive colours. Try not to be too influenced by the latest fashion in colours. Many people have followed the latest trends slavishly-often with disastrous results. Your own tastes, combined with careful judgment, are far more important. When discussing colour schemes, the main concern is how to combine different colours successfully. It is here that you will benefit on how to get the most out of your personal preferences.
A very great deal has been written about the theory of colour. Before choosing a colour scheme for a particular room you should know about the basic properties of colour. These are hue, tonal value and chromatic intensity. Hue is the quality which distinguishes one colour from another-red and blue for example. Black, neutral greys, and white have no hue. There are three basic groups of colour primary, secondary and tertiary. The colours in the primary group are red, yellow and blue. By mixing any two of these together you can get orange, green and purple. These are the secondary colours. Tertiary colours are mixtures of primary and secondary colours-adjacent to each other on the colour wheel. They are yellow green, blue green, blue violet, red violet, red orange and yellow orange. Altogether, twelve colours go to make the colour wheel, This will be of considerable help to you when working out possible colour combinations. Tonal value refers to the lightness, or darkness, of a colour. For example, yellow is lighter than all but the palest of violets. Light tones are more reflective than darker colours. This is why dark rooms are made brighter by the use of light coloured paints. On the other hand, rooms with large windows, with plenty of access to sunshine, will remain light and cheerful even with a very dark colour scheme. A colour scheme made up of subtle tone changes will make a room seem larger and play down the appearance of awkward shaped furniture. Such a scheme will give a quiet overall effect. You should pick out something in an opposite shade to the general colour scheme. This will provide a point of interest and prevent the room be,coming boring. Strong tonal contrasts catch the eye. Your furniture wilt stand out where such a colour. scheme is used. A contrast between the walls and curtains will make a room look much smaller. The reason for this is that the different surfaces will be ‘cut up’, or separated. You’ll find that the effect can be pleasantly lively and stimulating. An understanding of tone is one way of making sure that you use colour attractively. Two colours which do not seem to combine satisfactorily may well do so when one of them is lightened or darkened.
Colour can play an enormous part in ‘pulling together’ or enhancing the cheapest decorative scheme.Some colours always look ‘expensive’, some look cheap in the wrong material or texture. If in doubt, remember that black or white fits almost everywhere. So do, most of creamy-beige colours, from the natural ivory shade of unbleached catlco to the straw of rush baskets. Cheap lamps or china, which usually come in white, and a pale, neutral coloured room make a good background.
If you want an injection of brilliant colours, remember its impact is several times greater when used in group form. Why be content with just a scarlet cushion? Try a scarlet cotton cushion. a huge scarlet plastic ash tray on the nearby coffee table, and a bunch of scarlet, pink and orange paper flowers stuck in a mug beside.
Mirrors always look good, but tend to be expensive. Mirrorboard, on the other hand, is considerably cheaper. You can stick this self-adhesive board-backed mirror on to hardboard or walls, or cut it up into table mats, for a stunning effect, at a cost substantially less that that of real mirror. For the living room, there are all sorts of decorations that can be made for next to nothing. Patchwork cushions are mostly your own work-dressmaking remnants can be begged from friends, or even from dress manufacturers who would otherwise throw away these tiny scraps. Anyone with artistic talent can use the same bits and pieces, plus scraps of foil, felt, or sequins, to make collages. All sorts of things look good as objets trouves. For example, a collection of stones, amassed from hillsides and beaches over the years, can look superb. (A handyman could mount these on acrylic sheet, for an even more arty look.) One exotic-looking wall sculpture, in glossy white, turned out to be simply the foam packing in which the vacuum cleaner had arrived, sprayed with white gloss paint! (Keep expanded polystyrene well away from heat, though, it is highly inflammable.) Grasses and flowers can be dried even dunked in a bathful of dye. Beech leaves that have sucked up a mixture of glycerine and water will stay copper-bronze coloured for years. All these, once done, save on the expense of having fresh flowers. Finally, perhaps the best money-saving tip of all is: learn how to cover upholstery, make lampshades repair furniture. You will never know how skillful you can be, until you try.
Buying second-hand furniture is one of the most obvious cheaper way to furnish a house, and still one of the most successful, ways of saving money. Chairs, in particular, can be found at phenomenally cheap prices. In large second-hand stores, dining chairs can be picked up for small sums. They may not be particularly pretty, but stripped and lacquered a bright colour, with the seats recovered (try blue and emerald, black and tobacco brown) they look extremely presentable. Most pre-War furniture has the merit of sound, solid construction. For an extra-comfortable sack chair, make a ‘sack’ of canvas or shiny pvc, and buy polystyrene granules by the cubic foot. Of new furniture, the cheapest in Britain is white wood, although kit furniture is sometimes more durable and it pays to compare the two before you buy. Again, this can be painted, stained, or lacquered. Foam rubber blocks, covered in tough, cheap and washable canvas, can make anything from push together seating or sofas, to divan mattresses to stack on the floor. Some office furniture is cheap as well as durable. So are chipboard tables on trestles that can be bought from builders’ merchants. Cover one of these with a tablecloth, and you have a good-sized dining table. Coffee tables or storage systems can be made from chipboard, and supported on anything from aerated concrete blocks (cheap and paintable), or brick to cheap brackets. An ancient filing cabinet-again from a secondhand furniture store painted in bright gloss coach paint (as used for car bodies) makes an excellent storage place for toys. Or an old, second-hand trunk can be painted, and stuck with transfers or cut-outs. Keep an eye open, too, for shopfitters rebuilding premises in your neighbourhood. Often, old counters and shelves which will provide useable timber are available for little cost. In a bedroom, a thick felt curtain across one wall, hung from a track in the ceiling or from a rod and rings, comes much cheaper than any wardrobe. Clothes can hang from moveable dress rails, which you can buy through mail order; other clutter can go in anything from cheap Moroccan rush baskets to shoe boxes or plastic cutlery trays. Jewellery looks fine hung from hooks on a felt or hessian pinboard on the wall.
The rule here is ‘never skimp’-or it wilt look cheap. Be as lavish as possible with quantities, but use cheap materials. Curtain lining materials, when lined and interlined so that it hangs in thick, ‘extravagant’ folds, has the dull sheen of expensive looking satin. Hessian is extremely cheap, does not need lining, and comes in attractive, earthy-looking colours. Calico bought by the bundle can be used in its original creamy state, or dyed. Deckchair canvas has the firmness and solidity to make, good blinds (which use far less material than curtains), and blind-making kits are cheap. For curtains, or for a padded bedhead of the kind you hung from rings,ordinary wooden dowelling, painted or fabric-covered, is the cheapest sort of rod. Many stores have ,drawers full of odd rings and finials.
Chain stores sell cheap duvets, which,in the long run save money otherwise spent on, sheets and blankets-and immediately will save time, trouble, and possibly temper. They sell duvet covers, too-but it could be cheaper to make your own. It is only, really, a large pillowcase, with press-studs or tie tapes at one end.With any duvets ,you will need a bottom sheet. About the cheapest way of getting a ready made one is to scour the ‘small ads’ in your local newspaper. Chances are you will find someplace where odd single sheets, usually white, are sold off cheaply.
There is, really, not much to choose between the prices of the different makes of paint apart from the fact that beautiful, original decorator colours often cost more than the ordinary standard ones, and that chain-store paints can be the best buy of all. Even having a gallon of emulsion (which covers a lot of wall) mixed to the exact colour of your choice usually costs very little extra.
Wallpaper is something else entirely; costs vary enormously from roll to roll. One of the cheapest ways of covering walls is to use ordinary lining paper; this can be bought in rolls.
The cheapest thing of all, if your floorboards are in good condition, is to sand and seal them. A sanding machine is reasonably cheap to hire, but before beginning make sure that gaps between the boards are plugged or dust and draughts will whistle up-and check that there are no protruding nails.
These must be hammered down or pulled out. After sanding, the boards must be sealed with one of the proprietary brands of floor sealer. A clear polyurethane alters the colour least. A wood floor, has the advantage of standing up to considerable wear and tear-vital in a living room or hall or any other room.
For stairs, wood (unless custom-made as a complete staircase) is on the whole undesirable. It is noisy, and more slippery than carpet.One of the cheapest ways to cover stairs is to use carpet if the noise is a problem.
In a bedroom, polished boards teamed with rugs are always successful. But, because bedroom flooring does not have to be so tough, something softer can be used.
Other floor covering could be rush matting (best in the country, where you can take it out and shake or brush it clean-remember also to sprinkle it with water occasionally); cheap, plain-coloured lino with diamonds, lozenges, circles or whatever, with a darker colour ‘dropped in’, to give a Roman-marble floor look (try chocolate and beige, orange and cream, black and tobacco); or good old floor paint. This comes in several colours and white especially gives a light look to a room but it does chip or scratch a bit. (It is best bought from a marine shop, where it is known as ‘yacht’ paint.)
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