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The use of Colour in your Home

Described By Ray Lewhite.
Although it must remain a matter of personal choice certain principles in the use of colour should be followed.

Choosing the right colour paint and wallpaper may at first appear a simple job, but when you come to get down to it, it is quiet complicated. Apart from trying to please all the members of the family you find that you have to consider carpets, furnishings and curtains which must all fit into the scheme. Ceilings and painted woodwork can be altered to suit, but furnishings are more or less a permanent part of the room and therefore, wallpapers and paint must be chosen to be in keeping with them. In a earlier article for londonwide painters.co.uk I discussed the question of choosing wallpaper for different rooms. This further article deals with colour generally, the most important part of any decorating scheme. Whether we realise it or not, our immediate impressions on entering a room are governed almost entirely by our response to colour. Colour creates atmosphere and it can transform a dull gloomy room into a bright and cheerful one. It can be glowing or restful according to our particular desire.

Simple approach

Use of colour
A simple not too technical approach to colour is provided by the circle at the head of this article. The colours in the top half range are generally known as warm colours and those in the lower half as cool colours. Those adjacent to each other or near together are harmonious colours and combinations of these will usually give satisfactory colour schemes. Colours directly opposite are contrasting and often referred to as "complementary", that is, they complete a scheme if used together and intensify each other, but, if they are not to jar, they must be toned down.
Colours on opposite sides of the chart can be used together but care must be taken to make sure that the strongest is restricted to smaller areas when two different papers are hung in one room. The boldest and strongest one must be reserved for the chimney breast or the recesses each side of it, or perhaps for one single panel as a background to a bed or sideboard.
The dark colours on the circle are satisfactory when used with the light ones. For example, violet blue with orange is correct, but a pale shade of violet (lilac) to the same orange will give an unpleasant effect. When various shades or tints of one colour are used trouble may occur. On one occasion I papered - on instructions! a room with a pink wallpaper whilst the paintwork was also pink. Unfortunately the two pinks were different tones, the paintwork had a definite orange tint with the result that the paper assumed a much deeper pink where it met the woodwork. You can see from this one example that care must be taken in choosing matching colours in any room. Grey is always a safe colour but here again, there are many shades of grey. It may be just plain black and white but it can also be yellowish or greenish or even blue.

Walls come first

Use of colour
As the walls of a room are the biggest area to be decorated they must be given the first consideration. They form the background to the furnishings. Choose a paper which will not clash with the carpet or the prevailing colour of the furnishings. If these are colourful and bright, choose a quiet coloured paper, too much colour in a room can mar the whole scheme. As a suitable background to bright chintzes and a large patterned carpet, select a fairly neutral paper, with a base of ivory, cream or beige or even light grey.
The next large area to be considered is the ceiling, which is usually done in a emulsion paint or papered. Whichever you use, remember that the darker the colour, the lower the ceiling will appear, especially if a frieze is included. Choice of ceiling papers is limited but many designed for walls can be used for this purpose.
The ceiling paper can be continued on to the side walls thus giving support to the paper on the other walls. This will also reduce, by one, the number of colours in the room. Having selected the colour scheme, great care must be taken not to spoil it by faulty distribution. A sound plan to follow is that the largest areas should have the quietest colours, reserving the strongest and brightest for the smaller areas. This means that in practice that the walls and ceilings should be in pastel tints or fairly subtle hues.
A modern vogue in decorating is to treat walls with different wallpapers and by means of light and dark colours, they can be made to appear to alter in shape. The window wall and that opposite are usually done in lighter colours thus enabling light to be reflected from the latter. If you are dividing the room with two papers, a general rule is to have the long walls in light colours, thus giving an appearance of space, and reserving the darker colours for the end walls.
Should the window, however, be in the end wall, this principal cannot be applied as the dark paper would then be opposite the sourse of light and so reduce the reflection. This shows that it is not possible to lay down hard and fast rules but that the choice must be left to the individual.

Colour schemes

Use of colour
Below are a few suggestions of colour for your guidance. They have however, been selected for suitability to the general type of householder and are specimens taken from the present day trends. Although intended to be carried out in paint and emulsion some wallpapers could be used if preferred. The papers need not necessarily be without patterns, but the general overall colour is intended. Confusion may occur in the names of the colours as different manufacturers colours vary. For instance, ivory may be a pale cream, a broken white or even a yellowish cream. Mushroom may be a greyish brown with a touch of red or a somewhat muddy grey. Some ceilings mentioned are rather bold and daring but remember that if they are in wallpaper they are always slightly pattered with spots or broken colour.
Should the room have a picture rail, avoid dark colours on the ceiling for, as this includes the frieze, a disappointing result will be obtained unless the room is a very high one.

Wallpaper treatment

Use of colour
This is mainly intended to stimulate ideas for the most effective way of spacing out walls to produce interesting schemes. Panel treatments are most effective in large rooms, in small ones they should be simple in character. Fig.1. A single panel of a strong bold pattern will look effective behind a bed or sideboard. It breaks up the horizontal line dividing the frieze from the wall.
Fig.2. Here the border breaks up the large panel and the upright lengths of border will help to reduce the appearance of a long wall. The border must be in a matching colour to the paper. If it is too strong a colour, the paper will lose some of its value, for the border will tend to stand out and detract from the paper. Remember this when choosing any borders.
Fig.3. The bachelor single room with the bed and lounge combined. The bed is in a recess. Paper the wall at the head, the length of the bed and continue onto the ceiling over the bed. As this is a small area a bright pattern may be used. A candy stripe hung vertically with the stripe on the ceiling running the same way as the bed. Finish off with a border to separate the rest of the ceiling which can be papered the same as the rest of the room.
Fig.4. Another interesting scheme is a fairly light coloured patterned hung in panels on the two main walls and chimney breast. The companion paper being a plain colour one containing a thin stripe of another colour and hung in the recess each side of the chimney breast, all the window wall and a little on each side of the panels of patterned paper. Should the room be fairly high with no picture rail, the striped paper can be hung horizontally and so reduce the apparent height of the room.

Use your discretion

Use of colour
With all the ideas I have mentioned, the readers must use their own discretions regarding colours and patterns. A good rule is to use the colours of the carpets and furnishings as a base from which to work.
When you have chosen a wallpaper, before you actually buy it, ask to see a length from the roll. This will often look quiet different from the same paper as seen in the pattern book.
And while you are at your stores pick up all the booklets you can find about "colour in the home". Manufacturers of paint and wallpaper issue many attractive leaflets in colour which will give you a very good idea of what can be done.


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