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Module 1: Colour in Interior Design

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The role of colour
Colour is a crucial design element, when it comes to planning a space. In this module, you will discover precisely why colour is so important. You will learn about the psychological effects of colour and how they can set a mood for various kinds of interior. Although it is up to an individual designer to choose a room’s colour scheme, there are certain “standard” rules and guidelines that professionals tend to follow and we will address these in this module. Simply changing the colour of a room is to give it a complete overhaul. Remember that colour doesn’t just apply to the walls of a room – the accessories, furnishings and even the lighting should be chosen with colour in mind.
Colour serves the following purposes:-
It can serve to hide flaws in decoration and structure: Ideally, every designer would be able to work with well-constructed, well-maintained spaces. In reality, many projects will entail concealing existing problems, such as uneven walls, or windows that are positioned in such a way that the room is darker than it needs to be. Judicious application of colour can divert the eye away from many problems. A cramped room can be “fixed” with a well-chosen colour palette.
It can make a space appear bigger or smaller than it really is: In general, light colours make a room appear airier, brighter and larger. This is useful when decorating rooms that are naturally deprived of light. On the other hand, dark colours often “shrink” a room. This isn’t necessarily an unfavourable outcome – for example, it can make a space feel cosier when executed with competence. In addition, colour can change the appearance of objects within a room. Dark colours give the impression that objects are smaller than they really are, whereas light colours create an illusion of increased size and closer proximity.
It can trigger a particular mood in people using the space: The psychology of colour has been studied extensively and we know that the colour of a room plays a role in shaping the mood of those within it. We will look at the most common associations between colour and mood states, later on in this module.
It can be used as part of a certain style or period scheme: If a client wants to recreate a particular style or draw on inspiration from a bygone era, a designer will have to make use of colours that reflect the period being recreated.
It can provide a focal point in an otherwise conservative or “standard” interior: Sometimes, a client may want a fairly neutral colour scheme, but still want to include a couple of elements that catch the eye. Using colour carefully – for example, as a feature wall or within soft furnishings within a room – can produce good results, without “overloading” the space with bright colours. Colours can also highlight an interesting or valuable piece of furniture or artwork.
How exactly does colour influence the appearance of space?
Applying the same colour to all walls, ceilings and even floors within a space will give the impression that it is larger or smaller than it is in reality. This is referred to as “volumising” a space. The end result will depend upon the chosen hue and tone of the selected colour. This technique yields especially good results when applied to integrated spaces that flow into one another, such as rooms connected by hallways and doors. If the colour of furniture and fittings matches the colour of the walls and ceilings, this will amplify the effect even further. A key principle to bear in mind is that a block of colour will encourage the viewer to perceive one area within a room as a single space. You can take advantage of this technique to highlight a focal point, such as a piece of artwork or special item of furniture. For example, painting two adjoining walls in a single colour will encourage the eye to “sweep” the space in a particular direction, guiding it to a defined end point.
Colour can be used to create a smooth aesthetic transition between rooms. This doesn’t mean that two or more adjoining rooms have to be coloured in exactly the same way – you can use hues that soften as the viewer moves between spaces. Alternatively, you can use colour to actively highlight transitions. For example, painting a door frame so that it contrasts with its surroundings makes a bold statement and forces the viewer to acknowledge that they are entering a different room or subspace.
Applying colour in large horizontal sections to a room’s walls can create a sense of balance in an oddly-proportioned space and can also create an attention grabbing backdrop for the display of furniture and artwork. For example, a client may wish to redesign their living room in such a way that highlights their collection of framed artwork. Painting the top and lower halves of a wall will result in a clear “line”, which can form a gallery-type space above the line or a focal point for furniture placement below. If a room has a particularly high ceiling, it can be made to appear lower with the application of colour to its upper regions.