The Colour Choice - Part 1

The effect of emerging from winter is really quite profound.

The days lengthen and with the sun climbing higher, the light becomes more intense and we rediscover a sense of colour and excitement.  It is at this time of year that one starts to consider the possibilities of decoration and refreshing rooms that have become neglected or a little stale.

The quickest and easiest way to breathe life into a room is with a coat of paint.  There are many great colours and finishes to choose from but before starting there are a few considerations to bear in mind.

Paint Chart - Little Greene Paint Company

Colour is the single most powerful element of an interior - it can transform space, create mood and drama, or add charm and serenity.

Our colour perceptions are driven by the natural world and our associations within it - thus red is associated with warmth, blue with cold, pink with femininity, green with freshness and so forth.  In fact the associations work at even a deeper level than this - orange is often associated with cheap or value for money whilst the darker tones of green, red, and blue, along with touches of silver and gold are associated with wealth and luxury.

Whilst still the least expensive way to enliven a room, quality paints have become a little more expensive than they once were.  Certainly they are less expensive than wallpapers but nevertheless to avoid costly errors perhaps consideration might be given to a few of the following points when selecting colours -

  • Personal preferences
  • Location - town, country or beside the sea
  • Type of house - cottage, town house, apartment
  • Aspect of the room  and the natural light
  • Use of artificial light
  • Function of the room - dining, sleeping or study

As if this is not enough to cause confusion, added to this must be consideration of existing possessions and colours of floors or other fixtures and then the look and style that you wish to create in any particular area.

Whilst there is no one correct solution to any given space, there are solutions that are best avoided.  So here are a few simple concepts that may help simplify the task. 

(This article references paint from The Colours of England & Colour Scales chart from The Little Greene Paint Company.  We love their paints, especially their matt emulsions - they have a fabulous silky texture and superb coverage. This is important as in most cases two coats of their paint will be sufficient whereas some makes will require three coats to obtain the desired opacity.)

◼︎ Halls, Corridors, Stairs - these are the linking areas in a house and as such need to provide a unifying effect to the individual rooms.  In smaller houses a single colour which is not too dark may work well and will maintain a sense of space.  Note also that wear and tear can be at its worst in these spaces, so the need to hide marks or touch up damaged paint will be important. Colours ranging from French Grey to Hammock or Mushroom may be the answer. However, on upper floors leading to bedrooms (and if the house is large enough) one could be more adventurous and introduce colour - Heat or Drummond from the red scale or Juniper Ash or Canton from the blue spectrum.

Little Greene Paint Chart

◼︎ Kitchens - should be bright and cheerful.  This is the workhorse of the house and where the family will gather every day.  Examples of suitable colours include Creamerie, Linnet, Yellow Pink, Custard, Carys or Mister David - all of which would work well. (Note - care must be taken with strong yellows as they can prove overpowering!) Windows could then have Roman blinds in one of our linen/cotton fabrics such as Dunoon  or, if the paint colour is just right, in one of our cotton geometric prints such as Wavelength.

Little Greene Paint Chart

◼︎ Dining Rooms - times are less formal these days and dining rooms are not as popular as they were.  However, this is one room where the use of strong reds, blues or greens could be used for dramatic effect - examples include Thai Sapphire, Theatre Red or Obsidian Green.  (If you are feeling adventurous you might try Jack Black, which, as the name implies is black, but you would need stunning pictures and decorative objects to enhance the dramatic effect.)  Dining chairs covered in our linen/cotton Lynton fabric would sit well here.

Little Greene Paint Colours

As to finishes - our preference in most cases is matt emulsion for walls and ceilings and oil based eggshell for woodwork.  Gloss paint is, in our view best kept for exterior paintwork.  However, It can be used on walls for dramatic effect but it will highlight every flaw in the plasterwork and may end up looking uneven - be warned!

In Part 2 we will look at living rooms, TV rooms, studies and other areas where families meet and entertain.

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