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Colour Schemes For Interior Decoration

Blending Colours and Patterns to Match Furniture and Curtains. Suggestions are Made for Each Room in the House
By Gerry Doital.

There is much interest today in the use of colour and pattern in the home, but the chief worry is about the right proportions to use. Two main faults are the use of too much of a favorite colour and pattern or, directly opposite, too cautious an approach.


Colour schemes and the MISUSE OF COLOURS

We will take faults one by first using as an example a scheme devised by a householder whose enthusiasm for red had led him astray. He also likes grey. He knows that red and grey team well together, and he likes pattern. His carpet is red, chosen at random because according to his theory, red is red no matter what else you call it. It is heavily patterned with a bold contemporary motif. His fireplace wall is red, also boldly patterned, and so are his curtains, his lampshades and his suites. His paintwork, chosen indiscriminately because the paint chart assured him that it was grey, is too deep and sombre a tone. The low ceiling, because he has seen a deep-toned ceiling in a room 12ft. high, is also grey. The remaining three walls are in a heavily patterned grey. The patterned walls and fabrics fight each other for attention. The reds some of them pink reds some yellow reds, and others brown reds, neither match nor contrast. The small room, of which he had expected so much, now looks even smaller and darker. Then take number two. This householder likes red but he is cautious. He buys a fawn carpet, fawn curtains, beige and rust upholstery. He has cream walls and paintwork, and a white ceiling and to satisfy his urge for red, invests in a bright red lampshade, which is isolated and completely out of place in that room. The room looks no smaller, certainly, but the whole effect is monotonous and completely without character.


Colour schemes and the CO-ORDINATION OF COLOURS

Now take a third room. The couple living in this room also like red and grey, but their approach is different, They wanted a co-ordinated scheme in which the reds and greys matched up perfectly in walls and woodwork and fabrics, though they were wise enough to introduce supplementory colours to give life and variety to the scheme. Fortunately it is now possible for them to plan their scheme in this way. A number of firms have co-operated in producing their fabrics, furnishings and carpets in a range of contemporary colours. To team with these a full range of contemporary colours in enamel and emulsion paints is now obtainable. Using a paint colour chart as a guide, our couple chose a flame red carpet with a small pattern, and to link up with this, emulsion painted the fireplace wall in flame red to match. Then they emulsioned the three remaining walls in cloud grey, a soft tone. Wanting more pattern, they chose citron curtains from the same colour range. The fabrics were boldly patterned, but so that the curtains would not be isolated from the rest of the scheme, they hung two black and white prints on the red wall, with the frames painted the citron-yellow of the curtains. The ceiling was low, so they wisely resisted the temptation of a brightly coloured one and emulsioned it white. The woodwork matching the walls perfectly, was also in cloud grey. Another colour was introduced in the chairs, these were two-tone in bitter green and cloud grey, the bitter green giving a little extra variety to the scheme, but note that the cloud grey linked the chairs effectively with the grey walls, so that the green did not look out off place. The lampshade was in bitter green and black, the black giving the green extra depth against the plain white of the ceiling. There were now left two plain grey walls with no relief. The door was on one wall so this was painted citron. The other wall was relieved by two contemporary prints again in black and white, with frames painted in flame like the opposite wall. Walls, fabrics, upholstry, blended perfectly, and the whole effect was cheerful. The example given is for a simple scheme with straightforward colour choice using popular colours, as best illustrating the principles of colour blending and separation. But the same principles apply whatever the colours chosen.


Colour schemesand using PASTEL TONES FOR BEDROOMS

New colour are becoming popular, particularly pastel tones with a pretty, early-Victorian flavour. Lilac is becoming a favourite, teamed with soft greys, citron yellows, pinks and blues. Taking these five colours as a basis, a scheme can be worked out that, with care, will look pretty and will not lack character. Curtains could be lilac with a small Victorian pattern. The carpet could tone with the curtains, but without pattern. The window wall is citron emulsion paint, as a background to the patterned lilac curtains. Because in this scheme harsh contrasts are not wanted, the bedside wall is cloud grey, as is the ceiling and opposite wall. The remaining wall is sky blue and is linked with a bedside lamp and ceiling light-shade in the same colour, but discreetly patterned. The bedspread which, though contemporary, has a definite Victorian influence with clover pink roses on a white ground or white roses on a clover pink ground, gives a lift to the main walls and a contrast to the patternless carpet. Finally the woodwork is gloss white, giving a freshness to the scheme, linking up with the white of the bedspread. Note that the contrasts in this scheme are more subtle than those in the living-room. Nevertheless, they are definite, and the effect is restful and at the same time cheerful.


COMBINING COLOUR SCHEMES

The bedroom and the living-room schemes follow two completely different schools of thought, though are in keeping with modern trends. The living-room has bold splashes of colour relieved by more neutral tones. The bedroom relies on the more subtle merging of pastel tones. Both have an appeal of their own and it would perhaps be wiser to combine them, having some rooms following the first trend, and others the second trend, rather than to decorate and furnish a whole house in the same manner.


Colour schemes USE OF EMULSION AND GLOSS PAINTS

So far we have written about schemes which are built up from scratch. There are people who have not the money to refurnish a whole house. New wall and woodwork colours, fortunately, can revitalize even the most drab room by the application of emulsion and gloss paint to walls and woodwork. That old rust carpet and beige suite would look better against a sky blue wall with, perhaps, a wall in pebble beige to link with the suite, and another in guardsman red or citron, to give extra life to the scheme. For the woodwork, cloud grey is exceptionally elegant. It teams with furniture of any type or period and with almost any colour. It is certainly more versatile than the old-fashioned cream and incidentally, if you have children to consider, does not show fingermarks so quickly. Carnation pink will team with that old gold or blue spread. Antique or good reproduction, if you are lucky enough to posses some, would on the whole look best against pastels. But avoid red tones against mahogany. A small bookshelf-studded workroom or study, which must be strictly utilitarian yet have a friendly atmosphere, could be white emulsion, increasing its light considerably. A forest green wall and door, restful to the eyes, could be chosen for one wall, but the wall should be enlivened by white-framed pictures, bookshelves or accessories, to bring out the full richness of its deep tone. To ring the changes, bookshelves or other items against the white walls could be forest green.


Colour schemes GAY KITCHENS

Kitchens should be light and gay, and here you can really let yourself go with colour. A change from the usual would be carnation-pink walls with white woodwork and mustard-yellow entry door and back door. Ceiling could be willow or sky blue, and the kitchen units could be white, with touches of cloud grey or willow.


COLOURS IN RELATION TO ROOM SIZE

Colours should be chosen in relation to the size and height of a room, selecting the paler colours for main walls in a room of average small size. An over-tall room in a old house could have the ceiling made to appear lower by painting it in a deeper tone than the walls, but too deep a colour should be avoided if the room is not well lit. A very low room is best with a white ceiling or one painted in a very pale tone, though the removal of the picture rail and the carrying of the wall colour up to ceiling height will make the ceiling appear higher. A long, narrow room should have the longer walls in a light or pastel tone, and the two end walls in a bright colour. Avoid to deep a colour, however as the effect might be that of a dark hole at each end of the room, unless effectively foiled by bright curtains or wall ornaments. To assist in the process of reducing the apparent length of a room, a chimney breast could be painted in a contrasting colour, and furniture arranged transversely across the room. By arranging colours and contrasts in this way, awkward-shaped rooms can be greatly improved in character and shape. High reflectance values are essential for small rooms. Light reflectance values for the various colours would be roughly as follows: Very high (more than 80 per cent.): white. High: citron. Fairly high : cloud grey, carnation, lemon, mustard, willow, pebble, sky blue. Medium: cerlean blue, dresden blue, clover pink, lilac, bitter green. Low: Gunmetal, middy blue, hot chocolate, dove grey, cornflower, thames green, sandlewood, mocha, blueberry, leaf forest, and emerald green, green olive, cardinal. aubergine and terra-cotta. The remaining colours of red or yellow/red tone, though not of high reflectance value, can be moderately used in a dark room to give a cheerful, warm appearance. These are guardsman, Siamese pink, flame, persimmon and cantaloupe. All the dark colours can be teamed with pale walls, as these walls, except in a very dark room, reflect enough light in compensation.


Colour schemes COOL AND WARM COLOURS

Care in the choice of colours can also have the effect of making a room appear cooler or warmer. In general a north to east room should need warmer colours than one facing south to west, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule. A sheltered east room is probably warmer in winter than an exposed west room; an east room with big windows could be warmer in summer than a south room sheltered by trees. Among the warmest colours are all the reds, mustard, lemon, persimmon, cantaloupe, terra-cotta, carnation, and Siamese pink. Cool colours are the pale blues and pale greens, such as bitter green, willow sky blue, Dresden and cerulean blue. Deep colours such as leaf, forest, middy blue, though rather overpowering in themselves, can look extremely effective if teamed with white or yellows, a clear, fresh contrast being necessary to bring out the best in them. They are useful, too as backgrounds to prized ornaments or pictures. The amateur decorator cannot go far wrong if he follows the rules of heraldry in decorating and furnishing his room. Taking coats-of-arms and flags as his guide, it will be seen that deep or bold colours are invariably separated by neutral colours. The colours referred to in this article are from charts supplied by International Paints Ltd.


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