Color is a powerful means of communication and a big part of the world we live in. We associate feelings with colors as we often feel sad or tired on “grey” days, we call royalty “blue blood” and, when we get angry, we “see red”. The same applies for homes. When we’re painting or remodeling, we should keep in mind that colors have a big visual and emotional impact on people.
Colors schemes and how they work
Color schemes are important because they give unity to your project. To make things easier on you, think about the three values: light, medium and dark. To stay grounded, floors should be a bit darker than the walls, while furniture and window coverings should be kept to medium, in order to make everything work together.
If we think of size, small rooms work best with light colors, tricking the eye into thinking the space is bigger, while spacious rooms can work with slightly darker colors if that’s what suites you.
Warm tones work if you want to give the house that homely feeling. The colors that you can use in this scheme are orange, with its less aggressive, bright feel, or pure yellow, the sun’s messenger.
Warm tones are best used when the house benefits from plenty of natural light. Otherwise, the shade and darkness will give their warm appeal a cold, abstract connotation. And, while warm is good, too much of it can provide sensory overload and tire the eye. With this in mind, think of using softer warm colors as the base, and pop some red, orange and yellow as accents.
Cool tones work if you want to achieve a sense of calm and trust. Green is nature’s favorite color and it speaks about growth and regeneration. When light, blue is fresh and luminous, while dark blue has a stricter, more dignified feel to it. Violet is a mystical color that combines the powers of red and blue – energy and intellect.
As with the strong, warm color scheme, cold tones will work best if your house benefits from plenty of natural light. Neutral furniture with strong, cool walls work great, because the combinations creates a balance that doesn’t strain the eye.
Neutrals are a good choice for small spaces and less natural light. They also have the advantage that they work with many environments and styles. Neutrals start from the usual suspects — white and black — but go through many creative nuances like taupe, beige and endless shades of grey.
Creating a monochrome room in black which fades to grey and finally to white can actually work if you choose the right colorful accents to make the space more human and approachable. Another way in which neutrals work is when you already have colorful furniture. This makes sure the walls don’t overpower the bright pieces, while keeping the room looking as big as it can (if you’re not using black, of course).
Pastels are great fun. If you’re having trouble understanding what pastels are, think of any color and add white. A soft pink is a pastel color as much as a light yellow or blue. In combination, these colors can make a room look airy, comfortable and big.
With pastels, always think of the three values — if you’re painting the walls say mint green, try to keep the floors darker and the furniture somewhere in between. Pastels do have the tendency to give your house a “dollhouse” look, so make sure you accent the light colors with stronger elements.
Create your own scheme
Color mixing and matching is limitless and fun. All it takes is a bit of color wheel knowledge.
Complementary shades, like yellow-purple or orange-blue, work together because they oppose each other on the color wheel. They should be used in moderation, because they have a strong impact.
Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel — blue and blue-green, yellow and yellow-orange, purple and red-purple. These create a harmonious environment and can be used in combinations of two or three.
Triadic colors are three colors evenly spaced around the color wheel, like red, orange and yellow. Pick a dominant and use the other two as accents to create a vibrant space.
In the end, working with color is not as hard as you might think. Knowing a bit of color theory will get you far and it will definitely take you away from the classical patterns. By mastering your shades, you will find that color is an important ally in your home.
Naomi J Shaw is a freelance writer who lives in California with her husband and three children. She currently works with Harris House Painting as well as other home decor and improvement sites. When she isn’t working she loves hanging out home with her family and watching movies.