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Decorating with colour

Think how boring the world would be without any colour at all. When you’re deciding on how a space should feel, the biggest and most effective way to achieve this feeling is through colour. You’re probably heard of or experienced warm and cold colours, as certain colours bring out certain feelings and emotions, as well as send pretty powerful messages

Have you ever thought, how the hell interior designers and artists find the winning colour combos? Well, they use a little thing called colour theory, which is a magical combination that blends art and science to figure out what colours work best together




Our friend the colour wheel


You’ve probably heard of the colour wheel before, but have you ever used it and I mean actually use it?... like put into practise? In 1666, Isaac Newton managing to map the colour spectrum into a circle, which gave birth to the invention of the colour wheel design. Still used today, the colour wheel is utilised in everything from art to interior design and everything in between. It's an incredible useful tool as it’ll show you the relationships between different colours, making it the basis of colour theory


Colour wheel basic's:


Primary colours: red, yellow, and blue


Secondary colours: the output of mixing any two primary colours - green, purple and orange


Tertiary colours: made from mixing a primary colour with a secondary colour to get all the different colours in the colours wheel (yellow green, blue green, blue violet, red violet, red orange, and yellow orange)


Basic colour theory


Hue: The actual colour you’re referring to, like blue

Value: The lightness or darkness of a colour

Saturation: The intensity of a colour

Tint: Adding white to a colour

Tone: Adding grey to a colour

Shade: Adding black to a colour


Colour schemes and how to use them

Colour wheel combinations


Complementary colours: Opposite colours on the wheel (eg blue and orange) Using complementary colours secret a bold and sharp contrast



Analogous colours: Side by side on the colour wheel (eg blue and purple). Analogous colours are pleasing to the eye and ‘guides’ the visitor



Monochromatic colours: Focusing on just one colour on the wheel but playing with different shades. Creates a very simple and clean aesthetic



Triadic (advanced): Evenly spaced around the colour wheel (blue, red, yellow). Makes the image pop and makes each colour stand out in a harmonious way



Colour palettes and how to use them


Warm: these are oranges, reds and yellows (but can also include browns and golds). Warm colours give off a bright and cozy vibe and often evoke passion and energy


Cool: these are blue, greens and purples. Cool colours give off a more relaxed and calming vibe and often evoke professional, cleanliness and calmness


Neutral: these are black, whites and browns. Neutrals on their own can look boring unless done creatively as they give off sophistication and professionalism. But thankfully they can be easily pairing with brighter accent colours



Colour psychology


It's known that colour can evoke really strong emotions. So here's a breakdown of some of the psychology behind each major colour




Mental reaction: inspires action and confidence Association: fire, energy, strength, power love Mood: intensity, anger, excitement, lust Rooms often used: kitchen, dinning room, living room, playroom




Mental reaction: boost communication Association: warmth, joy, friendship, socialisation Mood: friendly, happiness, optimism Rooms often used: kitchen, nursery, workout room, bathroom




Mental reaction: Calm and aids intuition Association: peace, softness, serenity, water, cool Mood: productive, calm, relaxed, cold Rooms often used: bedroom, office, living room, dinning room, kitchen, nursery, bathroom




Mental reaction: relaxes mentally and physically Association: natural, money, life, growth Mood: calm, happiness, luck, patient Rooms often used: Living room, bedroom, office, dinning room, kitchen, bathroom




Mental reaction: stimulates apprentice and activity Association: cheerfulness, caution, warmth Mood: impulsiveness, fear, confidence Rooms often used: workout room, living room, office, bathroom




Mental reaction: uplifts and encourages creativity Association: luxury, fun, loyalty, softness Mood: happiness, playfulness, calming Rooms often used: living room, dinning room, bedroom, craft room, kids room



Design with colour


The 60-30-10 rule defines that you should design a room by picking three core colours, and then distribute them in those three percentages to keep the palette balanced and harmonious. 60% will be the dominant colour (like a neutral, thought certainly not always!), 30% would be something a bit bolder, and 10% will be the accent colour (often the boldest colour)

Sum it up


When used right, colour theory is very powerful, as it brings much needed logic theory into the mix, helping you to help create balance and cohesion. Which is why you'll find the colour wheel in art, the colour wheel for interior design and even the basis of colour wheel for paint. Delve deeper into interior design and decorating with colour by reading our guide on how to make colourful art prints work in your home

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