Thursday, February 21, 2008


Tricks Of the Eye

One of the most familiar of all decorating dictums is the rule that pale colours make a room look bigger, while darker ones reduce its perceived size. While this is certainly true,it's worth bearing in mind that there are other ways of achieving similar results. One of the most successful tactics is to choose the same colour treatment for walls, ceiling and woodwork: this kind of visual simplification not only makes a room feel more spacious, it also disguise any awkward shapes and ugly features. Use the same device to make a huge, but infinitely practical chest of drawers or cupboard less obtrusive by painting it to match the walls. Similarly, choosing white to make a ceiling appear higher is seldom necessary and often counter productive since a dramatic change in tone between ceiling and wall accentuates, rather than disguises, any proportional inadequacies.

As a general rule, the closer in tone all the surfacesand furnishing elements are to each other,the closer in tone all the surfaces and furnishing elements are to each other, the more spacious a room will seem. This doesn't mean that everything has to be the same colour, but if enhancing the impression of space is your top priority, then cameo pink walls witha matching ceiling combined with say, natural flooring, furniture made from blond wood and rich, creamy curtains would be more successful than the extreme contrasts of dark, stained floorboards, white walls and multi-hued furnishings. It's important, though, to avoid becoming obsessed with this concept; after all, making rooms appear a little bit bigger or higher is much less important than creating an attractive and inviting home.

Changing Moods

Whatever your personal preferences, each colour has its own specific qualities that affect everyone. Strong, bright tones are naturally much more potent than light, chalky ones. Soft,subtle versions of green, blue, mauve, pink and apricot are tranquil and soothing shades: use them for living areas, bedrooms and bathrooms. Sunny yellow, rich red, deep rose, burnt orange and baked terracotta, on the other hand, have a strongly energizing effect. These colours are well suited to areas such as dining rooms and hallways, which are not used for relaxation, and where people tend not linger for extended periods. For kitchens and workrooms, look for middle-range tones that cheer and stimulate without overpowering the senses.

In many cases, the particular shade you choose is more important than the basic colour.Ochre-based banana yellow, for instance, adds a flattering glow to even the smallest, darkest space and lifts the spirits immediately, while a lemony tint is apt to take on a greenish cash whenever the sun disappears, and it is very unsetting to live with in large quantities. In the same way, pale aqua and watery eau de nil are calming and easy on the eye, whereas grey-tinged shades such asa airforce blue and pea green can feel chilly and unwelcoming in both temperature and mood, and large expanses of brighter shades like cobalt blue and grass green are more likely to induce headaches than alleviate tension.

Colour Harmony

Aim to think in terms of colour groups instead of basing your choices on the more traditional concept of the colour wheel, or trying to match individual tones precisely. On the whole, colours of the same intensity and type work well together: tender pastels, 1950s dayglo shades, dusty earth tones, clear primaries and candy pinks and oranges. Some of the most common decorating failures result from a dramatic imbalance among the dominant colours; some shades are dark, vivid or muddy, while others are light and clear. A sofa covered in deep saffron, for example, will sit uncomfortably against an anaemic off-white or baby-blue wall. To complement its intensity, choose a background shade of similar visual weight, such as Tuscan pink or watery aquamarine.