A Consumer s Guide to Colour and Design

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1 The Flooring Guild 36 Meadowsweet Eaton Ford St Neots Cambridgeshire PE19 7GR Website: Tel: Consumer Information Service A Consumer s Guide to The Flooring Guild is dedicated to raising standards in the flooring industry through the delivery of high quality training and education. We believe Consumers should be given unbiased information to help make an informed choice and have produced a series of guides to help in that process. The contents of each Guide are believed correct at the time of printing. Nevertheless, The Flooring Guild cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions or for changes in the details given in this Guide or for the consequences of any reliance on the information provided in the same. Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, we will always welcome any information to assist in such efforts and to keep the Guides up to date. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from The Flooring Guild. The Flooring Guild is a company limited by guarantee Registered in England No at the above address

2 The Flooring Guild 36 Meadowsweet Eaton Ford St Neots Cambridgeshire PE19 7GR Website: Tel: Contents Consumer Information Service Page CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLOUR 1 THE COLOUR WHEEL 2 Harmonious Colours 2 Complementary or Contrasting Colours 2 COLOUR CHARACTERISTICS 3 IMPORTANCE OF COLOUR IN OUR INTERIOR ENVIRONMENT 4 PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL IMPACT OF COLOUR 5 Psychological Factors 5 Physiological Factors 5 APPLIED COLOUR PRINCIPLES IN INTERIOR DESIGN 6 Space and Proportion 6 Using colour with confidence 6 CO-ORDINATING COLOUR IN A ROOM SCHEME 7 Creating a monochromatic scheme 7 Working around an existing pattern 7 Starting from your preferred colours 7 USING NEUTRALS 8 ADDING TEXTURE 8 Texture and Reflective Surfaces 8 WORKING WITH PATTERN 9 Establishing a Design Style 9 Type of Pattern 9 Scale of Pattern 9 COLOUR AND LIGHTING 10 Reproduced by kind permission of Flooring One Limited The Flooring Guild is a company limited by guarantee Registered in England No at the above address

3 CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLOUR Perhaps the most common misconception about colour is that the human response to it is purely subjective. Because the body processes colour through the eyes, we often make the mistake of imagining that colour is only a matter of appearance. Many people claim to be completely indifferent to their surroundings, particularly with respect to its decoration and colour. Colour can play a major role in influencing the mood, atmosphere and the overall emotional impact of our interior or architectural environment. Think about the effect you want to achieve. The carpet you choose must also work in with your lifestyle. Bear in mind that very light colours show marks more readily than darker or flecked colours, while dark carpet can show up light coloured flecks such as white pet hairs. There is no rule as to which shade or colour should be used, it really depends on your preference. Some people like a house to appear warm and intimate while others prefer a spacious, airy interior. The colour and type of carpet you select for your home will tie all the elements of a room together. So remember to try and choose your carpet before committing yourself to other new furnishings - to ensure that all your colours work together. When creating a colour scheme, we must bear in mind the type of lighting the colours and products will eventually be seen under. As a general rule of thumb: Warmer colours will look brighter and stronger in warm lighting but may appear duller or changed under cooler light eg fluorescent lighting Conversely, cooler colours will be brighter under a cooler light source but may appear changed under conventional warm tungsten lighting What is ultimately most important here is to recognise and accept that colour is not constant. It is entirely dependent on the light source illuminating it. This is why it is important that any colour or product should be chosen under the eventual lighting conditions it will be seen in if we are to be sure of the final result. Swatches and samples that can be viewed in a variety of positions in the room make this process easier so ask your retailer if you can borrow samples to take home. The end result will make it worthwhile. The Flooring Guild 2015 Page 1

4 THE COLOUR WHEEL In order to make best use of colour, it is important to look at the relationship between the different colour groups on the colour wheel. Below we see a colour wheel divided into twelve colour segments. All of the twelve, full strength 'hues' or colours are derived from the three primary colours Red, Blue, and Yellow. warm colours cool colours a twelve-segment colour wheel There are many recognised ways of putting colours together based on their relationship to one another on the colour wheel However, the two most common are: Harmonious Colours Two or three colours next to or near to one another on the colour wheel, such as orange, orange-yellow and yellow are called harmonious or related colours. They are considered related because they all contain one common colour. Complementary or Contrasting Colours Colours that are directly opposite one another on the colour wheel are called complementary colours. If two complementary colours are placed side by side, they have the effect of making one another appear more intense. The Flooring Guild 2015 Page 2

5 COLOUR CHARACTERISTICS We seldom use colours at their full intensity or saturation in interior decoration, as the overall effect would be too dramatic and stimulating for visual comfort. FULL INTENSITY TINT TONE SHADE Instead we use diluted versions of these colours, often described as tints, tones & shades. TINTS TONE SHADES These muted colours have the appearance of having been diluted using a variety of greys These clean fresh colours have the appearance of having been diluted using pure white These muted darker colours have the appearance of having been diluted using black The golden rule, however, in terms of colour coordination is to work with either a clean palette or a muted palette but to never mix the two, irrespective of the hues or colour families chosen from around the colour wheel. clean colours muted colours The Flooring Guild 2015 Page 3

6 IMPORTANCE OF COLOUR IN OUR INTERIOR ENVIRONMENT Colour and light are both major factors in our architectural environment. They have great impact on our psychological reactions and our physiological well-being. Research has proven that light and colour affect the human organism. We shouldn t assume that the only significant role of light and colour is to provide adequate illumination and a pleasant environment! Most of us do sense (even if on a subconscious level) that colour plays a major part in how we feel about spending time in a given environment, for better or worse. This is because over-exciting the visual senses is distracting and fatiguing. Controlled tests carried out on this subject have found that exposure to over-stimulation, through incorrect use of colour, produces changes in the rate of breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure and an increase in muscle tension. The temptation, however, is to shy away from using colour at all. White and magnolia give us that wonderful play it safe fall back. However, creating an under-stimulated environment, through lack of colour and visual interest, has also been scientifically proven to be equally stressful and unsettling. What we are looking to achieve is the right balance by learning some of the basic principles of colour and design. We can start to really enjoy our work in this field and be confident that the end results will be what we wanted to achieve rather than a surprise, or worse still, a disappointment. In the next section of the course we will learn about a number of specific colour principles we can apply to our interior decoration. We can use colour to: Influence mood and atmosphere Give the appearance of spaciousness Improve light reflection for task areas Improve the appearance of badly proportioned spaces Create a focal point Create a sense of unity and balance The Flooring Guild 2015 Page 4

7 PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL IMPACT OF COLOUR Psychological Factors Psychology can be defined as the science that deals with the mind, with mental and emotional processes and, as a consequence, with our behaviour. Our behaviour not only includes actions, but thoughts and feelings - in fact anything a person experiences. The psychological effect of colour, or colour psychology, is a vast and complex field. What we will consider here is applied colour psychology i.e. how we can use the associations we have with colours to produce a positive effect within our environment. We all share deeply ingrained conscious and subconscious associations with colours that are not just a matter of individual interpretation but are part of our collective heritage. Below are some of the accepted generic associations we have with colour: Love = Red Peace = Mid blue Tranquillity = Light blue Sorrow = Black Hatred = Black Happy = Yellow Jovial = Orange / Yellow Life = Green Spiritual = Violet Nobility = Blue It also has to be recognised that, in addition to these general associations, each of us will have some unique associations with particular colours because of our own personal experiences, be those good or bad. We, therefore, need to learn to be sensitive to our emotional response to colour. Physiological Factors From the physiological point of view, the colours of the spectrum can be measured in nanometers ranging from violet at 380nm through to red at 780nm, the longest wavelength in the visible spectrum. As the longest wavelength, red requires most adjustment by the eye and consequently has an immediate impact. As a result, it appears to advance and therefore look nearer than it is, hence its association with aggression or danger. It is no surprise that red is used as a warning and, in the case of traffic signals, as the stop command. Green on the other hand requires little adjustment by the eye and is, therefore, easier to look at and, as a result, is more restful and relaxing. The popularity of weekend outings to the countryside to relax and unwind perhaps demonstrates this fact. Colour can play a major role in influencing the mood, atmosphere and the overall emotional impact of our interior or architectural environment. The Flooring Guild 2015 Page 5

8 APPLIED COLOUR PRINCIPLES IN INTERIOR DESIGN We have seen previously how the eye has to adjust to accommodate colour. The following colour principles give us great flexibility to change the overall feeling of size, proportion and appearance of a room. Space and Proportion Bright, saturated colours advance - Muted colours recede Dark colours advance - Light colours recede Take a look at how we might make use of these principles a b c a. Darker, stronger colours create a sense of 'intimacy' or enclosed space b. Lighter, less saturated colours will create the feeling of additional space c. A low ceiling will appear higher if painted a lighter colour than the walls Using colour with confidence Light and colour undeniably influence our perception of space and the environment around us. In order to create and maintain a given effect in a scheme, we need to control the amount of each of the colours we plan to use. As a rule of thumb, choose one main colour, usually for the walls and ceiling, a secondary colour for the flooring, and a stronger accent colour or two for the woodwork, furniture, furnishings or accessories. walls & ceiling flooring fabrics and accessories The Flooring Guild 2015 Page 6

9 CO-ORDINATING COLOUR IN A ROOM SCHEME There are number of ways we can create a co-ordinated colour scheme. Remember, the key to co-ordinating colour successfully lies, not with which colour hues work well together, but in avoiding using fresh brighter colours with muted colours. Here are three ways to plan a colour scheme: The paint colours on the left hand example are too clean and fresh to work well with the more muted colours in the wallcovering and fabric. Those on the right are much more in character with the coloured samples. Creating a monochromatic scheme A monochromatic scheme utilises the many tonal variations of just one colour or hue on the colour wheel. Choosing a single colour or hue as the theme to the room is one way to link all the different elements of the room together. Particular attention must be given to introducing texture on the surfaces of the room for added interest, otherwise monochromatic schemes can often appear dull and uninteresting. Working around an existing pattern If there is a strong pattern on the carpet, curtains or upholstery, use the colours from this as the basis for your scheme. The pattern will show you which colours go well together but it might also suggest in which proportions they work best. A great way to decide on colours when working with an existing pattern is to cut a small hole out of a sample piece of pattern and view the colours through this. Isolating individual colours like this gives you a much clearer idea of how they will work together. If you are unable to cut a window into your patterned sample then use a piece of plain off-white paper to achieve the same effect Starting from your preferred colours Use the vast wealth of inspirational pictures and images in decorating magazines to pinpoint your preferences and use this information to plan your scheme. You will probably find that most of the images that inspire you contain similar colours and that frequently those colours are used in a similar way. The Flooring Guild 2015 Page 7

10 USING NEUTRALS Neutrals are a wonderful addition to our interior-decorating palette and can be used to a greater or lesser extent in a scheme. Whites, black, greys, browns and creams can all be classed as neutral. Texture plays an important part in any neutral scheme since it adds variety and interest. Inspiration can be found in the earth colours of nature eg the bleached white of sand and the soft brown tans of earth and wood. These faded and weathered elements are all great sources of inspiration for neutral schemes. Neutral colours are easy to live with and provide the perfect foil for interesting furniture and accessories. ADDING TEXTURE Colour works with texture to enhance the mood of an interior, which in turn can affect the quality of life in that space. Texture describes how any material feels to the touch. Every surface has a texture and deciding on which textures to use is as important a part of decorating as choosing colours because texture has much effect on the different elements in a room and the overall atmosphere. A haphazard collection of textures can be as unsuccessful as an unbalanced colour scheme. Texture can be used in the same way as accents of colour. In a wellbalanced but slightly lifeless colour scheme we can inject a little interest by adding a contrasting texture. Texture is linked closely to colour. The quality of a colour its richness or brightness, for instance, varies depending on the texture of the surface. Texture and Reflective Surfaces Smooth surfaces reflect light and dull ones absorb it. A colour painted in emulsion on a wall looks lighter than the same colour used in a heavy woven fabric. Equally a silk or gloss finish paint colour will appear lighter than a standard matt finish. The floor is the surface of the room we are in most contact with, be it carpet, ceramic tiling or wood block flooring and this provides us with the opportunity to create some wonderful textural interest in the room. The Flooring Guild 2015 Page 8

11 WORKING WITH PATTERN Working with pattern needs as much careful consideration as colour to achieve successful results. Pattern, like colour and texture, is an essential ingredient in any room scheme. Our three main considerations when introducing pattern to a scheme are as follows: Establishing a Design Style Country Traditional Modern A country look usually indicates an informal look, often as a mixture of smaller floral patterns, possibly accompanied by checked designs or small stripes. Colours may be warm, natural and earthy, ie russets, olive, wine and plum colours, or they may be softer and cleaner pastel greens, pinks, blues or yellows. When creating a more traditional style, the emphasis is usually on larger, more formal patterns with regular repeats of fine detailed florals and broad stripes or heraldic motifs and crests. Colours may vary from deeper richer tones to the more classical pale hues. Modern rooms are usually less fussy in their styling and with cleaner lines. Patterns are often bolder with perhaps stripes and diagonals incorporated into geometric or abstract designs. Colours are usually brighter, cleaner and fresher. Type of Pattern In addition to the overall design style, we should bear in mind the fact we will have personal preferences when it comes to the type of pattern we introduce. Think about your own personal preferences from the following list - checks, stripes, florals, abstract, geometric, pictorial, motifs etc. We should choose the type of patterns we enjoy most. Scale of Pattern Finally, the scale of the pattern can have a major impact in the overall scheme. Patterns may be large scale and dominant, becoming a focal point in the room. They might be mid-scale and provide a degree of visual interest or small scale simply providing an overall texture within the room. Here are four important design principles we can deploy when using pattern Busy and large patterns advance Smaller, subtle patterns recede Vertical stripes add height to a room Horizontal lines around a room reduce height The Flooring Guild 2015 Page 9

12 COLOUR AND LIGHTING When creating a colour scheme, we must bear in mind the type of lighting the colours and products will eventually be seen under. Light can be measured and described in terms of its colour temperature. This is describing the spectral qualities of the light source ie whether it contains more of the warmer longer wavelengths of the spectrum as opposed to the cooler blue-violet wavelengths. Given that very few light sources are pure white, the colours we choose to look at may appear quite changed under different lighting conditions. This phenomenon is known as metamerism. The three most common types of domestic lighting Tungsten Lighting Halogen Lighting Fluorescent At a lower colour temperature than daylight, tungsten lighting produces a warmer and more cosy light source A more evenly distributed light source, purer and whiter than tungsten and closer to natural daylight A cooler harsher source of light with the blue-violet wavelengths predominating As a general rule of thumb: Warmer colours will look brighter and stronger in warm lighting but may appear duller or changed under cooler light eg fluorescent lighting Conversely, cooler colours will be brighter under a cooler light source but may appear changed under conventional warm tungsten lighting What is ultimately most important here is to recognise and accept that colour is not constant. It is entirely dependent on the light source illuminating it. This is why it is important that any colour or product should be chosen under the eventual lighting conditions it will be seen in if we are to be sure of the final result. Swatches and samples that can be viewed in a variety of positions in the room make this process easier. The Flooring Guild 2015 Page 10

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