The Importance of Color to Interior Design

The quickest, the most dramatic, and the most reasonable way in which to create instant change in a room is through the use of color. A fresh coat of paint will instantly revitalize an interior, camouflage cosmetic problems, and minimize architectural defects. Paint can completely change the atmosphere of a room, establish harmony within a décor, create illusion, and accent an interior with personal style.

Mood Swings

Paint is one of the great mood creators. Put Chinese red lacquer on white walls and suddenly the feeling is hot and sassy. Opt for butter cream for saturated, sunny hues that bring warmth inside on even the grayest days. Calm the mood with blues and greens. Or ground the space with earth tones.

Color Your Personality

Elsie de Wolfe, the doyenne of American decorating, believed in exploiting the impact of color. When choosing a color scheme, she paid as much attention to a homeowner’s personality as she did to the furnishings that were to go into a room. In her 1913 book, The House in Good Taste, she wrote “we must consider the effect of color on our nerves, our eyes, our moods, everything.” Valuable and timeless advice.

The Vocabulary of Color

The color wheel is the traditional vehicle for representing the colors of the spectrum and their relationship to each other. The color wheel is based on the work of Sir Isaac Newton. By bending light through a prism, Newton discovered that the resulting colors formed a spectrum. He then arranged those colors in a circle: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, returning to red.

Complementary Colors: Colors that appear opposite each other on the color wheel. For example, red and green, blue and yellow. When paired with each other, the results are vibrant.

Analogous Colors: Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Teaming analogous colors – red and orange, green and blue – creates visual harmony in a room.

Hue: The words color and hue are interchangeable.

Value: The lightness or darkness of a color.

Saturation: The purity or brightness of a color. A highly saturated color reads bright and clear. By contrast, a less saturated color will appear gray or muted.

Tone: A pure color that has been modified by the addition of black or white. Dark tones, or shades, result from mixing a saturated color with gray or black. Light tones, or tints, are achieved by mixing a saturated color with white.

A final word of advice . . .

Have fun with color. Many paint stores offer small sample cans so you can experiment on your walls. Observe the colors at different times of day and night to see how they change. Reflections will also alter the colors from one room to the next.

Don’t worry about trends; they come and go. Select colors that make you feel good and you will always be happy.


Photo courtesy of Laura Ximena Olejua Mancipe Industrial Design & Photography

Other Resources:
Sherwin-Williams paint


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