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Colour - How can you live without it?

No matter what your style is, colour is something that enriches your life in unimaginable ways. As a designer, its easy to inspire people with colour and show clients how to use colour in a way that suits their personal style.

Using colour in your home can trigger happiness and well being if used in an informed and restrained way. The recent swing in interior design trends back to strong and meaningful colour selection (as opposed to all neutral and white) puts a smile on my face. I want to share with you some colour theory to help you understand colour better and how to use it effectively in your home.

Understanding colour may seem like a mission impossible but taking a good look at the theory is a great place to start....The colour theory will give you confidence when combining colours for paint and decor throughout your home and even for fashion. Enjoy.....

The colour wheel

The colour wheel is probably one of those things that you learned about as a kid and haven’t thought of since. However, to really understand colour, you may have to dust off some of that knowledge. Simply put, the colour wheel provides a visual representation of which colours blend nicely together. It removes all the guesswork, essentially. Most colour wheel models are comprised of 12 colours. However, in theory, the colour wheel could be expanded to include an infinite number of shades.

What are the basic colours? We bet some of you read the last paragraph and went, 12? How are there 12 colours in the colour wheel? There are only 7 colours in the rainbow. True. But, trust me, there are, in fact, at least 12 shades on every colour wheel. Here’s how things break down: Primary Colours: Red, blue, and yellow. Cannot be made from mixing other colours. Secondary Colours: Orange, Purple, and Green. Can be made by mixing the primary colours together. Tertiary Colours: The six shades that can be made from mixing primary and secondary colours. If you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to decorating a colourful interior, one of these 12 is often a good jumping off point. Pick one and it will help you narrow down your selections until you settle on the exact shade that you love.


Changing the colours with black or white

Once you’ve selected a basic colour, it’s easy to create many different versions within the same family. All you need to do is combine that colour with either black or white in order to make it lighter or darker. In interior design parlance, this is known as tint, shade, and tone. Tint: The act of lighting a colour by adding white to it. Shade: The act of darkening a colour by adding black. Tone: Slightly darkening a colour by adding gray. Many artists recommend experimenting with colour by mixing paints until you have a feel for how drastically neutrals will affect a colour.


Understanding colour temperature You may have heard colours described as having a temperature. A dining room may be decked out in warm tones while your friend may have chosen a cool colour to finish off her bedroom. These temperatures also describe where the colour falls on the color wheel. Reds, oranges, and yellows are often described as warm colours. They are typically more vibrant and seem to bring a sense of liveliness and intimacy to a space. In contrast, blues purples, and most greens are the cool colours. They can be used to calm down a room and bring a relaxed feel. When choosing colour temperature for a space, you should also consider the size aspect and light levels. Using a warm colour in a tight room could make things feel a little claustrophobic. However, using cool colours in a spacious room could leave things feeling stark and cold.


Complementary Colour Scheme When it comes to colour schemes, complimentary is the simplest. It uses two colors that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. Typically one colour acts as the dominant shade and the other as an accent. This means combinations like red and green, blue and orange, or yellow and purple. This colour combo is extremely high contrast, which means that it’s best used in small doses and when you want to draw attention to a particular design element. You could use it to make your powder room pop or to bring extra vibrancy to your home office. If you choose a complimentary colour scheme, you really need to embrace neutrals. They will provide a place for your eye to rest and keep you from becoming overwhelmed in the room.

Here's an example of a room where a complementary colour scheme has been used. Note that purple and yellow are opposite on the colour wheel.


Split-complementary colour scheme ​If you like the idea of a complimentary colour scheme, but are afraid it may be a little too bold for your tastes, split complimentary is a safer choice. To make this color scheme, you would first choose your base shade. Then, instead of choosing the color directly opposite of your base, you chose the two shades on either side of the opposite color. Those two shades will provide a much needed sense of balance to the room. You’ll still get the visual impact of bold colour, but you’ll be able to incorporate more of it instead of relying heavily on neutrals to calm the space. Split-complimentary works best when you use your base colour as the dominant. However, instead of choosing a saturated shade, try to focus on a colour that is more muted. Then, go bold with your other two shades in the room’s accent pieces.

Here's a split complementary scheme in situ. Mauve with pale blue and touches of warm timber tones makes up the scheme.


Analogous colour scheme The analogous colour scheme refers to using three colours in a row on the colour wheel. Typically, two colours will be either primary colours with the third shade being a mix of the two and a secondary colour. For example, you could choose red, orange, and yellow or red, purple, and blue. The key to using this colour scheme successfully is proportion. Again, the 60-30-10 Rule comes into play. You’ll want to choose one color to be the dominant shade, one to support the dominant, and the third, most vibrant color as an accent. Interestingly, you can also create a similar colour scheme using neutrals. It’s typically referred to as a monochromatic colour scheme. Simply choose black, white, and gray in lieu of brighter shades.

In practice analogous schemes could look like this:


Triadic colour scheme Triadic colour schemes, sometimes also referred to as a triad, refers to using three colours with equal space between them on the colour wheel. The three primary colours (red, blue, and yellow) are a perfect example, as are the three secondary colours. This type of colour arrangement is often extremely bold. Since the colours are in such high contrast and pure hues are often used, you’ll most often see this scheme in children’s bedrooms or playroom areas. When using colours that are this lively, it’s always important to consider the spaces that are nearby. You wouldn’t want to put two different triadic colour schemes next to each other. That would be too busy. Instead, make sure that the rooms next to your triadic space are calmer and mostly neutral.


Square or quadratic colour scheme A square colour scheme involves choosing four colours that are spaced evenly around the colour wheel – where the four corners of a square would sit. This can again provide some colourful combinations, but remember that you don't have to use all the colours in equal measure; have one dominant colour and use the others sparingly to highlight only important information in your design.


Tetradic colour scheme

A tetradic colour scheme involves using two pairs of complementary colours together. Like square colour harmonies, tetradic colour schemes are most effective when one colour is chosen as a base, with the others used as accents to support. A tetradic scheme may also be referred to as a rectangle colour scheme, because it creates that shape on the colour wheel.


Monochromatic colour scheme

A final option can be a monochromatic colour scheme – one which uses just one colour. Using different shades of the same colour can be another great way to attract attention to your design.


A Note About Neutral 'Colours'

This is all well and good, but you may be wondering where colours like white, black and brown fall into place.

Well, the reason that they're not included on the colour wheel is that they're not actually considered as 'colours'. Instead, they're known as 'non-colours'. But they can be used to create a powerful design, especially when used in conjunction with the colour harmonies that you create using the colour wheel.

The neutrals are compatible with almost all of the colour wheel's combinations, making them a versatile option when designing.

Neuatral decor has been very popular in the past 5 years or more and can be perfect to create a calming and comfortable space for any room in the house. Choosing the perfect shade of white is where the colour analysis comes into play. Anyone who has ever tried to choose the perfect white will understand what I mean. The Dulux whites range has countless 'whites' to choose from.

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