Colour use in Design

Colour Use 


To use colour boldly can be a challenge, colour theory is really a science and  there are many different looks or tones a colour can create.

Some colors are very soft; think pastels, colours that are mixed with white paint to get a lighter, softer colour. Some colours are dark, rich jewel tones and others are bright, young like primary colours.

You want to pick one look for your entire house. Not that you can’t have different, unique colors in every room, but pastel pink in one room, primary red in the next and deep, dark purple in another will not  flow well. The idea behind using colour well is it should give continuity in your house.

colour use from alison coplen of majorca magazine

If you love colour and are going for bold colour throughout your home, pick one look. It could be all light pastel colors or all jewel tone which are rich, saturated colours like actual gems ie emerald-green, sapphire blue or ruby-red.

Those not quite as adventurous with bold colour bring in one boldly coloured accessory, fabric or rug. It is often an easier way to incorporate bold colour without going over the top or without making a costly mistake.

Yellow-green tones such as pea green are associated with both nature and growth. Often considered by designers a difficult colour to use, pea green is most successful when paired with other earth tones, particularly brown or orange. To encourage growth, designers turn to pea green as a gender-neutral choice for kids’ rooms. When combined with turquoise, it takes on a masculine feel but when used with pale pink, it becomes more feminine

The colour of money, generosity and fertility, green is considered calming and pleasing to the senses. In fact, health spas and doctors’ offices routinely use pale shades of green on walls and furniture to keep their guests and patients relaxed. Bolder, saturated shades of green can brighten up the darkest of spaces

colour use from alison coplen of majorca magazine

Blue-green is often used by people who consider pure blue to be too cold.

It is  a popular colour choice  for bedrooms because it creates a serene and restful environment.

On the other hand, studies have shown that blues and blue-greens are excellent for keeping people focused; therefore, this hue is an ideal choice for rooms meant for study or sports

Aqua, canary yellow and white can convey many different moods for interiors. Often associated with feminine, youthful or coastal styles, this combo can be toned up or down to achieve a look that varies from sophisticated to youthful. If both aqua and canary yellow are used as dominants, a space can become garish. But by emphasizing one colour over the other then incorporating white or black furniture, the outcome is both energizing and balanced

Studies have proven that blue is most often chosen as the favorite colour of people worldwide. This is due in part to the fact that simply looking at this colour causes the body to produce chemicals which calm the nerves. Wisdom and loyalty are associated with this hue, which is why many military and civic uniforms sport shades of this colour. The colour of water and sky, blue is a popular designer choice for bathrooms and spas.

The  colour purple combines the dependability and wisdom of blue with the royal richness of violet. Deep purples are sometimes considered overwhelming and even associated with putting on airs, making blue-violet a great alternative. To keep it from appearing garish or even juvenile, pair with dark tones and metallics

colour use from alison coplen of majorca magazine

Plum, fuchsia and black may not be every manly man’s favorite colour list, but when properly balanced the outcome is suited to male or female. The key to mixing these colours correctly is to vary the intensities of the pinks and purples, then use black to break up the two similar hues

Combining violet, dark chocolate and bronze blends regal, metallic and masculine tones. For this combination to work harmoniously, the proper brown must be chosen; opt for black-brown instead of red-brown. The black undertone will allow violet’s intensity to stand out while bronze aids in toning it down.

colour use from alison coplen of majorca magazine

Historically, the robes of kings and queens were created from this rich colour, associating violet with wealth, prosperity and

sophistication. Scientifically speaking, violet is known for stimulating brain activity used in problem solving. When used

 correctly, controlled doses of violet can bring a sense of mystery and wisdom to a space.

Red-violet tones are a bit less serious than violet and blue-violet hues and are excellent for informal or playful spaces.

The red undertones make this colour somewhat feminine and youthful. Studies have shown that young girls are inclined to choose shades of purple, especially red-violet, for their bedrooms

Red, the colour which the eye most recognizes, is associated with movement, speed and excitement. Studies have proven that viewing red results in an increased heartbeat, sometimes leading to shortness of breath. When used correctly, red interiors inspire romance, encourage the appetite and heighten emotions. To incorporate red  into your home, it is best to use it sparingly. Just a few pops of red in a dining room will encourage dinner guests to make their way to the table and get seated.

Red-orange is the epitome of intensity; there is nothing calm whatsoever about this tone, making it an excellent choice for spaces that are meant to encourage creativity, activity or playfulness. When paired with white, red-orange rooms achieve a sense of balance

colour use from alison coplen of majorca magazine

Charcoal and red-orange is a colour combination often found in modern interiors; however, it works just as well in transitional and traditional spaces. This gender-neutral pairing is also an excellent choice for contemporary kids’ rooms.

Of all the colours in the colour wheel, orange is often considered the most flamboyant. Orange spaces are fun, happy and unapologetic. People who use this colour for their interiors can be characterized as warm, confident, carefree and ambitious. To tone it down, designers often pair it with earth tones such as chocolate-brown and olive-green.

Pumpkin, medium gray and dark brown is an excellent combination for orange

colour use from alison coplen of majorca magazine

 lovers too intimidated to use red-orange or tangerine for their interiors. Adding medium gray to the mix prevents the otherwise autumnal palette from being labelled  as seasonal

Often used by designers and architects to capitalize on the availability of a home’s natural light, white also symbolizes purity. While all-white interiors can be impractical to live in and for some evoke a feeling of sterility, the colour is truly the ultimate neutral, offering endless colour pairing possibilities within a space

Although black symbolizes both power and authority, it is usually the colour least likely to be used on interior walls. This stems from the fact that

black also implies submission. Similar to the way a black outfit slims figures, it can be used to accentuate a home’s architectural assets; try using black on walls and white on trim and floors.

Associated with romance, pink has long been a preferred colour for the feminine,  certain shades of pink, when paired with otherwise

masculine colours can create a gender-neutral space. Hot pink is a great way to add a feminine touch to more masculine hues such as navy blue and black.

Many men choose brown as a favorite colour. It is also a go-to choice for designers looking to create an organic or earthy aesthetic. Depending on what it is paired with, brown can be clean, rich and classic. For a sophisticated look, pair brown with grey then incorporate metallic finishes through accessories  and details. To achieve a bold, energetic look, accessorize with vivid colours such as blue, orange, green or pink.

Gray is often thought of as timeless and practical classic; however, too much gray leads to a feeling of old age or nothingness.

colour use from alison coplen of majorca magazine

To decorate with gray successfully, use it on walls and floors then add some excitement with colour accents. Depending on the accent colour, grey interiors can be masculine, feminine or both.

Complementary Colours

Complementary colours are any two hues that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. For instance, red and green, yellow and purple and blue and orange are all complementary colours. When creating a complementary palette, look beyond the primary colours

Analogous Colors

Analogous colours sit next to each other on the colour wheel.

Neighboring colours create a striking contrast when used side by side

Using the 60-30-10 Rule

colour use from alison coplen of majorca magazine

Three isn’t a crowd when it comes to choosing colours. Three is a really good rule for formulating your colour palette.

More than three colours can feel too busy.

After chosing three shades, break them down into the 60-30-10 rule for a cohesive look — 60 percent dominant color, 30 percent secondary colour and 10 percent accent colour.

Contrast Warm and Cool Hues

When choosing colours for your space, you may also want to consider contrasting the warm and cool hues on the colour spectrum.

Warm colours are yellows to red violets on the colour wheel while the cooler colours are blues to greens.


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