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Design Elements >> Colour

colour-wheel

This is the next installment of a series on the elements of design. These are the basic principles that underpin what is visually pleasing and how to create a certain feeling and mood with the design choices that are made. The topic of this post is Colour. 

Creating a well-balanced colour scheme does a lot for setting the mood and feeling of a space. Understanding how colour works also allows you to use it to show off a bit of personality.

Companies, such as Pantone, spend their time mapping these trends in society and then distill their findings. We are currently having an Emerald year, in case you wondered.

The tones and hues you choose for your home can connect you to favourite places, food or objects. They can even complement your skin tone and make you look amazing in your home.

There is more to know about colour than can possibly be stuffed into this post, but here is some basic information to help you understand how it works.

 

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary

We all learned about the primary colours of red, blue and yellow in grade school. These are the foundation of every other colour and they cannot be mixed or formed by other colour combinations.

A colour wheel, like the one pictured at the top of this post, is a great tool for understanding how colours are categorized and how they relate to one another.

It is in the secondary colours (purple, green and orange) and tertiary colours (combinations of primary and secondary colours like orange-red, or green-yellow) where things get really interesting because you can play with the colours to create some really fun combinations like blues that are warm, or reds that are cool.

 

Warm and Cool

Speaking of which, what exactly does warm and cool mean? Red and yellow and the combinations they make are called warm colours, because they most closely emulate things we associate with warmth, like the sun. Blues and greens fall into the cool camp for the opposite reason.

There is no one universally agreed point on a colour wheel where warm and cool start and stop, but it’s generally the division between the orange and blue, or yellow and purple — depending on who you ask.

 

Shades and Tints

How light or dark a colour appears on a scale from white to black is it’s value. You can lighten a colour by tinting it, or adding white, and darken it with the addition of black.

 

Colour in Interiors

Every colour has specific properties and so the choice to use it, or not, will do different things to the space. Warm colours are energizing, passionate and positive. Cool colours are more calming, relaxed and reserved.

Warm colours seem to move in, or come closer in perspective while cool colours “recede” or seem to move away. If you are trying to make a space feel bigger, choose a cool paint colour. If you want it to be cozy and nest-like, opt for the warm tone.

The other thing to always, always remember is that colours are formed from light. Remember those experiments putting light waves through a prism? What this means is that different types of light will alter the way a colour looks. That pale blue-grey you love in one light, might appear more green or even purple in another. Always test your paint in the space before committing an entire gallon to the wall. It’s cheap insurance that you’ll love the finished product.

I’ve created an Elements: Colour Pinterest board with a few ideas around colour. Check it out.

 

What colours are you drawn to? What do you like about them?

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