UNDERSTANDING COLOUR

Unsure about choosing colours? Don't be! 

It isn't rocket science and it isn't magic. It is the same as building anything else.  

There is a plan that you can follow.


 
 Description: Colour-Wheel-Itten 

Good colour schemes are constructed by adhering to straightforward rules. With the aid of a colour wheel you can work with colours in your room that you can't change to find a new direction and a new look for your home. Before you even get to which shade of red or green or yellow or blue you prefer, you need to get the colour groupings correct.  

There are 3 main rules for choosing great colour groups. 

Monochromatic Colour: Choosing 1 colour in different tones and shades. 

Related Colour: Choosing between 3 - 4 colours next to each other around the wheel.

Contrasting Colour: Choosing colours that are opposite each other on the wheel. Below are 3 main options for choosing contrasting colour. 
(i) Complementary - Colours directly opposite each other ie Red/Green, Orange/Blue, Yellow/Purple. 
(ii) Split Complementary - Comprises 3 colours. Choose a colour and then the colours either side of it's complementary colour  
(iii) Triadic - Choose 3 colours spaced evenly around the wheel.  

Now to work out what those colours need to do for you!

Once you have selected the colour combination that you want to use, you need to think more deeply about what you want the scheme to achieve in your home. Different depths of colours, in combination, achieve different moods. 

The next bit may challenge you, but it is the key to the best colour schemes.
Every colour has a tonal value.....which will mean nothing until you read on. 

Description: Colour-Tonal-Chord-Image        

Think of all the shades of grey between White and Black. Did you know that every single colour has a position on that Tonal Scale? White has the highest Tonal Value and Black has the lowest Tonal Value. The mood that you want to create is determined by the different combinations of different Tonal Values. To work out the Tonal Value of any colour, squint your eyes as you look at a colour when you place it beside a variety of greys as above. With your eyes squinted you will not be able to actually see the colour, you will only see it as grey. Find a grey on the Tonal Scale that is the same grey as the colour is appearing. Now you can see where that colour sits on the Tonal Scale. Some results will surprise you.....we can be very dazzled by colour and miss identifying it's Tonal Value without this technique! 

Now start thinking of words to describe how you want the space to feel. 
There is a tonal combination that will help you achieve these "feelings" by applying the rules to the colours you have already decided to work with. 

Energetic, Positive, Out There!, Happy: A combination of a couple of really high Tonal Values plus a very low Tonal Value as an accent. 

Fresh, Quiet, Peaceful, Gentle: A group of high Tonal Value colours without any lighter or darker accents. Pastels are a good example. 

Strong, Forthright, On the front foot! Rich: A combination of Tonal Values in the middle plus a much higher or a much lower Tonal Value as an accent. 

Understated, Watch out for boring! Subdued:  A combination of Tonal Values in the middle without any of the accents. 

Dramatic, Powerful, Yes! Dignified: A combination of very low Tonal Values with accents from the light end of the Tonal Scale. 

Eerie, Intimate, Oops, not so good! Chilling: A combination of colours with very low Tonal Values without any lighter accents at all. 

Finding "Common Ground" for your scheme After applying all of these "rules" you are now free to find that special link that makes the scheme look like a family. You need to find the "common ground" in most of the colours.  All you have to do is make most of the colours cool or warm or murky or dirty or pure. And if one colour has a tinge of yellow or blue or grey, choose most of the other colours in the scheme to reflect the same. We say, most of the colours, because if you want to single out just one of them to be different, do so, but only use as a small accent. 

The last detail!  Consider the neutrals! You will not want colour for everything! Now you can find the right neutrals to give your colours the canvas on which to sit. Be very selective amongst the Ivory's and Creams and Naturals and Linens and Taupes! You might have already incorporated neutrals as colours with high Tonal Value as part of your scheme. If you haven't, and they are an addition, always look at them carefully along side your scheme and let your eyes tell you which ones will be welcome into your colour family!  

Now you are in control!
 A good colour scheme should feel as though all the colours are happy to be living together. And this is because, behind the scenes, you have made it happen! It's a balancing act but if you follow the rules and then let your eyes and feelings be the final judge, you will love the result and it will be your own individual scheme!