TEN PRINCIPLES IN COLOUR THEORY EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW
Colour plays an important role in our lives. Whether you think interior design is an entertaining hobby or a must-have for a presentable home, it isn't always that obvious to understand all the different aspects of interior design. The art to decorate should be available for everyone and that's why we want to help you with some principles when working with colours.
1. HOW TO USE THE COLOUR WHEEL
Colour is a type of non verbal communication where the energy and meaning can shift from day to day with an individual - it all depends on the energy that's expressed in the moment.
In order to better understand the relation between the spectral colours, Sir Isaac Newton created the first colour wheel. The colour wheel contains twelve colours, but could in theory be expanded to an infinite number of colours. With the help of this tool we can gain a clear overview over which colours work well together.
2. BASE COLOURS
There are twelve colours in the colour wheel and these are divided into three categories. If you're uncertain of where to begin you can start from one of these twelve colours. Choosing one can help you limit your alternatives until you've found the right nuance. Choose from one of the following groups: primary, secondary and tertiary colours.
Red, blue and yellow. These can't be created by adding other colours.
Orange, purple and green. These are created by mixing the primary colours.
The six nuances that arise when blending the primary and secondary colours.
3. CHANGE COLOURS WITH WHITE, GREY AND BLACK
When you've chosen your base colour it's easy to create a lot of different versions within the same group of colours. All you need to do is combine the colour with any of the neutral colours; white, grey or black; in order to brighten or darken it up. By adding white you can lighten your colour, whereas grey will darken it slightly and black will darken it a lot.
A lot of artists recommend experimenting until you've gotten a feeling of how drastic a colour can be altered with neutral colours. But you could also just go to your local paint dealer and ask them do it for you.
4. UNDERSTANDING TEMPERATURES
You might've heard of colours which are described as "cold" or "warm". A dining room might have been decorated in warm colour while the bedroom might have been in colder colours. These descriptions also describe where the colours are located on the colour wheel.
Red, orange and yellow are often described as warm colours. They are more vibrant and add more life and intimacy to a room. As a contrast, blue, purple and green are considered to be cold colours and are often used to add calmness and relaxation to a room.
When choosing a colour temperature you should also consider the size of the room – a warm colour in a small room can easily feel claustrophobic, whereas as a cold colour in a spacious room can create an empty feeling.
5. COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR SCHEME
When it comes to colour schemes, the complementary colour scheme is the easiest to use. In this scheme one would use two colours which are on the opposing side of eachother on the colour wheel. Normally one colour becomes the dominant one, whereas the other functions as the so-called accent colour. Example of combinations are: red and green, blue and orange, or yellow and purple.
The combination of complementary colours create a large contrast and are therefor best used in smaller amounts. For example, you could use these to shift the focus from a specific unit to another part of the room. In doing so it might be wise to use one of the neutral colours, white, grey and black, in order to provide the eye with something calm to rest on. The main reason for this is to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed with impressions.
6. ANALOGUE COLOUR SCHEME
With an analogue colour scheme one uses three colours in a row. This would for example mean that you could use red, orange and yellow or red, purple and blue.
The key in using this colour scheme successfully lies all in the proportions. A thumb rule is a ratio of 60-30-10. In other words, one colour functions as the dominant, representing 60%, while one supports the dominant colour with 30% and the last one is used as an accent colour with only 10%.
You can also create similar colour schemes with the neutral colours, which normally is called a monochromatic colour scheme.
7. TRIAD COLOUR SCHEME
A triadic colour scheme, or sometimes even called a triad, refers to the usage of three colours with equal distance from eachother. The three primary colours (red, blue and yellow) are the perfect example, just like the secondary colours (in this case green, purple and orange). This type of colour arrangement are often very bold. As there's a big contrast between these three colours, when comparing them to eachother, they're often seen in children's playrooms.
When using such vivid and vibrant colours in this colour scheme, it might be wise to consider the space of which the colours are to reside in. For example, you wouldn't want to use two different triadic colour schemes with each other, as it would become quite so overwhelming (unless that's what your going for). You could instead try to focus on using calmer and more neutral colours.
8. SPLIT-COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR SCHEME
If the idea of complementary colour schemes sounds appealing to you, but are worried that it might be a little to bold for your taste, a split complementary colour scheme might be a safer choice. In order to create such a colour scheme you need to begin with picking out your base colour (in this example: green) and then combine it with two colours which are located on both sides of the complementary colour. These two nuances will bring a much needed feeling of balance to the room. This way you will still retain the visual impression of bold colours whilst at the same time dampen the intensity with nuances of the complementary colour.
The colour scheme works best when you choose a dominant base colour (e.g. green). Instead of using a saturated nuance of this colour, try to use a dimmed one, so that you can be bolder with the accent details of the room with the two nuance of the complementary colour (e.g. burgundy and orange).
9. RECTANGULAR COLOUR SCHEME
After the triadic colour scheme things get a little bit more complicated.
We will now try balance four colours in a space. This type of colour scheme is called a rectangular (tetradic) colour scheme, as a rectangular shape is placed within the colour wheel where two distinct colour pairs are used together with two complementary colours. Colour temperature plays a vital role when using this colour scheme. Make sure that you using two warm and two cold colours. Using an even amount of the colours will increase the balance in the room.
It's also important to vary how these colours are used. Try to look for a pattern that matches your colour scheme and don't hesitate to blend them into your fixed furniture.
10. SQUARE COLOUR SCHEME
The square colour scheme is very similar to the rectangular one. In this scheme you also use four colours, but instead of focusing the opposite colours, you evenly distribute the distance between the colours on the colour wheel. It doesn't matter which colours you use, the scheme will be a combination of primary, secondary and tertiary colours. Vary the intensity with the four colours by adding nuances of two more neutral and two more daring colours.
Exactly as in the rectangular colour scheme it's important to use an equal amount of warm and cold colours. The colour scheme works best if you choose one colour that functions as the dominant one, and the other three as accent colours.
Because you're constantly surrounded by colours and nuances it's important to understand how you can create an interior which gives you serenity. While the information above might seem a little bit overwhelming to absorb, just remember that it's essentially about what emotions the colours evoke just for you.
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