The power of colour

Whenever I think about paint I get excited.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling a
newly painted room creates – it’s like a new beginning.  But with the myriad of colours available,
selecting the right paint colour can actually be quite a daunting task.  Visit the paint section of your local home
improvement store and you’re bound to see at least a few people staring like
deer in headlights at row upon row of paint chips.

It may seem silly to deliberate
over paint colour, especially since of all the elements you bring into a room
it’s often the least expensive, but the colour you choose can have a number of
knock-on effects.  Colour can be used to
stimulate, calm, invite conversation and even affect your appetite.  Colour can make a room appear larger or
smaller and set the mood.  With all of
these influencing factors, it’s no wonder we fret about getting the exact shade
of green for the bathroom! 


Where to Start 

The best way to begin is to
consider all of the other elements that will be going into the room.  Use the fabrics, tile, window treatments and
art as jumping off points.  Look for
colours that unite these elements or a colour that appears in each
element.  You can even create a “colour
kit” that includes swatches or samples of these elements in a smaller format so
you can take it with you when you shop for paint.


Set the Mood –

Colour is a powerful element and
can have a tremendous effect on how we feel. 
It can make you feel happy, energetic, relaxed or hungry.  Similarly, each room has its own unique
purpose; bedrooms are for sleeping, dining rooms for eating kitchens for
creating, etc.  So, it only makes sense
to tie the colour you choose for a space to its purpose.  Soft, cool colours usually create a quieter
feeling and warmer, contrasting and somewhat brighter colours add to a sociable


Think about Your Space –

Darker colours such as reds, darker
blues and greens, purples, blacks and grays, can make a space appear
smaller.  This is because they absorb,
rather than reflect available light.  If
the room you’re painting is small you’ll want to take this into
consideration.  This is not to say that
you can’t use deeper colours in a small space, just that you need to think
about how best to use the colour. For example, a small room that has a lot of
natural light and sufficient artificial light might not seem too much smaller
with a darker paint colour on the walls. 
Alternatively, you can make a small space appear much larger by using a
lighter colour with more light refracting qualities.


Test your Choices –

Before you commit to a paint
colour, always test them.   You can use
paint chips from the store but one of the best ways to make sure you’ll be
happy is to buy a quart of paint.  Paint
test patches in a few areas around the room including near a darker corner,
across from a natural light source, near any cabinetry, etc.  Look at the paint in the daytime (when there
is a natural light source) and the evening (when you’ll be more inclined to
have ambient lighting in the room) and see how the colour works – you’ll be
amazed how much light can affect colour. 



Consider how the paint colour you
choose will flow with adjoining spaces. 
Look at your room from another vantage point by walking into another
room.  Will the colour you choose compliment
or compete with existing spaces?  Can you
see how the rooms transition seamlessly? 
You can use the colour wheel to help you find complementary colours,
tones and hues.


The Big Finish? 

Not all paint finishes are created
equal and the finish you choose will have an impact on the space.  Flat finishes have little or no shine which
can leave a space feeling a bit dull but they’re a great way to cover up minor
blemishes and surface imperfections. 
Eggshell or velvet finishes work in just about any room.  They are easier to clean than flat finishes
and create a soft glow that can warm up a space.  Satin or semi-gloss finishes are easy to
clean and are good for highlighting architectural details so use these on your
doors, trim kitchen and bath.  Gloss
finishes are shiny and entirely washable so they should be considered for
speciality uses and doors or trim in high traffic areas.

Painting a room is a big
production.  The paint may well be the
least expensive element in a room but the time and energy that goes into
getting it on the walls is precious so it’s important to get the colour right
the first time.   While these tips should
help point you in the right direction, they can’t replace following your
instincts.  After all, this is your home
and you have to live in it.  So, if you
have your heart set on a red bedroom, go for it   – rules are made to be broken. 


Kristen Thomson is business development manager with Woods Furniture
& Design Ltd.

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