Tricks of the Trade
Have a bedroom that looks small? A big living room that could be cozier? How to fool the eye with paint and texture—and other decorating tips.
By Sherri Dalphonse Published Thursday, March 01, 2007
How to Make a Small Room Feel Larger
• Paint it a dark color. “People think you have to paint a small room light,” says Arlington designer Michael Roberson. “But I have a tiny library, about ten feet square, and it’s painted this old color from Duron called Sealskin. All the bookcases are painted dark. The shutters and ceiling and baseboards are white, so it looks crisp. You see the windows, but the walls just disappear.”
Small rooms and dark paint go together if the room gets good light. “If you have a room with no light or north light, then you do need to paint it a lighter color,” she says. “But rather than white, paint it a warm pastel. Don’t do flat white because it’s going to look cold. If you have no light, you’ll have no warmth.”
• Consider painting the trim and ceiling the same color as the walls. “You can’t make a dark room light and airy, so make it dark and beautiful,” says DC’s David Mitchell. “You’re enveloped in all that color.”
• Try to avoid busy patterns. “If there’s wallpaper, I take it off if it’s a smaller space and there’s a lot of pattern going on,” says DC designer Therese Baron Gurney. As with paint, a monochromatic look can make a room feel more spacious.
• Buy sofas and chairs with visible legs. “In a small room,” Mitchell says, “there shouldn’t be skirted upholstery. If all the furniture has legs, it makes the furniture float.”
• Skip overstuffed and oversize. “Ninety percent of the homes I go in, the scale and proportion of the furniture are off,” says Gurney. “In a small space, you want to scale furniture to that space.”
Mitchell says misjudging furniture’s scale is a frequent mistake. “In the store, the sofa looks so small,” he says. “But the store is 20,000 square feet.”
• Be creative with the space you have. “If it’s a living room, people often say, ‘Well, I need a sofa, a coffee table, and two chairs,’ ” Roberson says. “But maybe it’s a small room and it has a wonderful coffee table and four chairs. Don’t get locked into your mother’s idea of what a room should look like.
“If you have a dining room that’s small, put a smallish table in it that has leaves and can get large when you need to.” Always wanted a library but don’t have the space? Roberson would build bookcases around the dining room—with that small table, the room can do double duty.
How to Make a Dark Room Lighter
• Think twice about drapes and swags. “The most common mistake is the need that our mothers banged into our heads that we had to have drapery on our windows,” says Gurney. “Use a window treatment that has a translucent effect, that’s going to allow light in. I like cell shades from Hunter Douglas—you can pull the shade down to allow light in from the top and privacy on the bottom.”
• Consider furnishings that reflect light. For example, “painted or lacquered pieces, or glass,” says David Herchik of JDS Designs on Capitol Hill.
Paint colors can also give off light. In a windowless space at the Washington Design Center showhouse, DC designer Victoria Neale repainted a brown wall in shocking yellow. The room, she says, lit up: “People thought I was crazy. But some colors seem to have light.”
• Don’t forget the ceiling. As simple as it sounds, a dark room may just need more light—a combination of lamps, accent lights on art, and recessed or downlighting. An easy way to brighten a dark room, says Bethesda-based designer Skip Sroka, is to bounce light off the ceiling using torchieres or sconces. “You need to put light on the ceiling to get reflected light back into the room,” he says.
How to Make a Large Room Cozier
• Arrange one or more seating areas. In a big living room, says Michael Roberson, “you don’t have to have seating against the wall.” Instead, she says, pull sofas and chairs closer together into the center of the room or create several intimate seating groups.
• Think texture. Whether you cover sofas and chairs with nubby fabric or the walls with woven raffia, it will, says Sroka, “make you want to go into the room. Texture creates coziness.”
• Try to mix in pattern and contrast. Interesting fabrics and furniture shapes—such as curved backs—stop the eye and make the room seem less sweeping. “If you have a large room and do it monochromatic, it looks even larger,” Mitchell says.
• Keep it warm. Sroka says he’s painting the walls of one Potomac home amber, pumpkin, russet brown, and coral. “The real-estate agent had told the owner to paint it all white,” he says. “I walked in and said, this place needs warmth and charm.”
• Big foyer? Try putting in furniture. Designers say they often find entrances too empty and cold. “Those big entry halls so many people have? If they’re really large,” Roberson says, “put a big piece of furniture—a really great antique. Then stick a couple of chairs and a rug in front of it, and you’ve got a nice reception area.”
Smaller Budget? How to Make a Room Look Rich
• Color is one trick. Don’t have a lot of money to spend on a room? “Use a lot of color,” Sroka says. “Paint isn’t expensive. Even if you don’t have a lot of furniture, it makes the space feel finished.” As you buy nicer furniture and art, he says, you can make walls neutral to show off finer pieces.
“I agree about the use of color,” says Victoria Neale, who adds that it’s also a way to make simple drapes look elegant. “Let’s say you buy window treatments from Restoration Hardware—they have great treatments, and they’re lined. But they’re mostly solid colors. To make the room feel finished, let’s say you get aqua-toned drapes, then paint the walls the same color. You have a finished background.”
• Decorate with books. Neale also suggests focusing on big pieces—a sofa or chairs—and spending less on, say, accent tables. “Put two or three art books on a cocktail table that’s not as attractive, and you can’t see the cocktail table anymore.”
• Think in threes. “If you want to make a room look more done, group three things together—it makes it look fuller,” says David Herchik. “Cluster them by color. If you’ve got a pair of lamps, put red shades on them. You can put some red pillows and a red vase and some red books, and your room looks more glamorous and put together.”
If you live in a mobile home, apartment, have a small house, or just have a small room then you know what it is like. A small room can leave you feeling cramped and uncomfortable. Whether you are just moving in or trying to make a change in your decor to make the room feel bigger it can be done with a little work and a few good choices. Small rooms don’t have to feel small and you don’t have to start knocking down any walls.
Choose your paint and flooring options carefully. You can influence how big a room looks with the colors you choose to paint on the walls and the flooring options you choose to give a room. These can be fairly inexpensive changes and can make a huge difference.
- Ceilings – Starting at the top is best. You should paint your ceiling stark white to make it look like it is far away and give the room an airier feel.
- Walls – Wall colors should be light. It doesn’t mean you have to live in a white world. You can choose any number of light-colored neutrals or pastels. You can also choose a semi-gloss or other option with some shine to it which will give the room a bigger feel. Choosing cool colors such as green, blue, and purples will give a bigger feel then warmer colors.
- Trim – Trim should be painted the same color as the room or a lighter shade. Having trim be darker will make it feel like the walls are coming at you. While painting the trim the same color or, better yet, a lighter color will make it feel like they are receding.
- Flooring – If you have the option, choosing the right flooring can make a huge difference. Wood options should be light in color, wide (8-10″), and diagonal if possible. The light color will continue to keep things feeling larger. Wider width boards will make the place less busy than smaller ones and laying them on a diagonal will make the room feel lots bigger (diagonal lines are longer than straight walls). Tile choices should be light in color, consist of a solid color and avoid patterns, and they should be larger (10-12″). Laying them on a diagonal can also help make the room feel bigger. Carpet should be solid in color and fairly light. Tan is an option that works well.
Clear out the clutter. It is true that the smaller a space, the harder it is to find places for everything. However, clearing out the clutter is a very important part of getting a small room to feel larger.
- Get organized – Find a home for all the things you just don’t seem to have enough space for. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. If you don’t use it often consider storing it elsewhere.
- Get rid of unused furniture – A chair might be comfy in a bedroom, but if it isn’t used get rid of it. The same goes with getting rid of unused sofas, tables, and other furniture items to open up the space.
- Keep things off the floor – We have a lot of things that we end up putting on the floor. Maybe it is an large plant, stereo equipment, books, or other items. Now is the time to work on finding some space for them that will let us keep them off the floor. Using floor space is something that easily adds clutter to a space.
- Use your wall space – Often times wall space goes unused. Adding shelves that can also be used for storage lets you use the wall space up to the ceiling. Add baskets for collecting small to medium items and store away your stuff. Adding bookshelves can also add storage up the wall.
- Multitask with your furniture – Storage is so important in a small room. Adding corner furniture such as bookshelves or an entertainment center can give extra storage for a portion of the space. Having end tables that store things can help. So can cabinets at the bottom of the book case.
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Furniture. Choosing furniture for a small room is a very important task. Additionally, the placement of the furniture can make for a difference.
- Choose furniture of the right size – You want a piece of furniture that will get the job done, but smaller is better. It is better to choose a large couch rather than several chairs, but picking out a piece that is made for apartment living (or mobile homes) is best. This will give you a smaller piece to work with.
- Choose solids and think about color – A solid piece is better than a patterned piece because the patterns will make the room busier. Colors should be light. Choosing pieces that match the walls will help them blend in with the walls and make it feel like they take up less space.
- Move large and or tall furniture out of the way – Walk ways and spaces that flow into other rooms should be left open. Move large or tall furniture toward the walls. Short pieces, short tables, and open spaced chairs can be moved into those spaces.
- Turn the furniture on an angle – Turning your furniture on a slight angle from the wall can make the space seem bigger. Use the space created behind the furniture for storage.
Add light. Everyone knows light can make for a huge difference in a room. Light paint works because it reflects light better. But you can use this effect with other elements as well.
- Add natural light – Use lightweight airy curtains to add natural light. Pull them back with fancy ties or hooks to let light in during the day. Choose blinds that are easy to work andlight colored.
- Add lighting wherever possible – Add lighting whereever possible. Choose table and floor lamps that don’t take up too much space and have small light colored lamp shades so that you can get the most out of your space and light. Where possible add track and recessed lighting. Where this isn’t possible, go with wall sconces and lamps. This will keep them off the table and the floor, help raise the eye some, and still add light.
Choose your decor options. Decor is important as well. Some options will make your room feel larger while other choices will make it feel smaller.
- Use mirrors. Mirrors reflect light and fool the senses into believing the room is larger. You have a lot of options. Floor length mirrors are good for bedrooms. Mirrors added to closet doors can also be great. Large framed mirrors can also make a big difference in any room.But it can go further than that. Decorating with small mirrors also increases light and make it feel bigger. Adding cut mirror to furniture such as end tables, coffee tables, and dressers helps make the place feel larger as well.
- Use items that are see-through. Choose glass items, acrylic, and other see-through or airier pieces for a larger look. This can be glass desks, tables, end tables, or even lattice!
- Skip patterns and go for texture instead. Patterns can make the room look busy. This can cause it to look cluttered and closing in on a person even if it isn’t. Textures can add appeal to the room though.
- Keep it simple. Don’t go overboard on the decor in a small room. Keep it simple, keep the color scheme simple with one or two colors. Go with shades rather than new colors.
- Keep it down to one or two. Whether you have one or two pictures, one or two pillows on the couch, or even one or two magazines on the coffee table, limit the number of items you have. This will keep down clutter, help you keep it simple, and make the room feel larger.
You may have to live in a small room, but you don’t have to feel like you live in a small room. You can choose your colors, flooring, furniture, light, and decor for a larger feeling space. Get organized and you will feel right at home (even in a small apartment, mobile home, condo, cabin, or other small home).
How to Add Color to Small Spaces
Use energetic colors to add style quality to any small room.
Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®
Don’t believe the urban legend that says when you use color in a small room it makes the room look smaller. This belief has been blown way out of proportion. Yet, amazingly enough, it continues to be the greatest reason that prevents people from using color in small spaces. It’s important to rememeber that color is one of the best ways to define and anchor a room. Here are five ways to use color in small spaces.
Eliminate lines between two rooms by using one color theme through both.
Sharing a color between multiple rooms that can be viewed from a given point will add balance, for example, a living room or kitchen that opens into the dining room, or a bedroom with a small office attached. If you have a favorite color combination, don’t be afraid to join those as well.
Walls painted taupe visually
connect the dining area to the adjoining living room.
Add Depth With Solid Colors
You’ll see how to layer colors to add depth by looking at this tiny New York City apartment kitchen. Originally all white, this kitchen was a bland, shapeless space; the lack of color visually flattens the room.
By painting the living room wall blue and the door opening and walls red, it adds depth. The white cabinets and the white refrigerator in the corner add a great horizontal line that keeps the walls visually separated so the room doesn’t look smaller than it is.
White punctuates this space
perfectly, making the bold colors
even more vibrant.
Layers of Color Also Add Depth
The painting technique of layering on glazes of color gives a wall depth. Separating the wall into blocks of color is another trick to adding visual depth.
It’s an especially useful technique when you’ve got a large wall to cover; a single color — any color — could make the wall look flat and massive, or patterned wallpaper would just overpower the room. The gentle tones of color layered here complement the furnishings and visually recede so you see the whole room, not just the wall.
Accent for Emphasis
If you’d prefer to keep the wall and upholstery colors neutral, choose an accent color and layer it in the room. This homeowner’s passion for pink shows up in cushions on the chair, the large painted panels of artwork, and the ottoman cover.
Used judiciously like this, even the brightest colors won’t overwhelm quiet neutrals. One last piece of advice: In most situations, use the chosen color in accents around the room, like this, rather than concentrating it one place.
Vary Neutral Tones
If you want an all-white room — in a bathroom, for example — just add a little variation to neutrals to improve the look.
A tone-on-tone stripe is a simple, effective way to add visual interest. The room still has the quietness of a neutral but it’s accented by a change of tone that gives the needed sense of depth without adding a chaotic element.
Soft taupe stripes warm the white
fixtures and add depth to this
True or false: An all-white color palette will make an apartment look larger. False! This is a common misconception of small-space design, along with the idea that less furniture makes an apartment feel larger. Instead, carefully placed furnishings and carefully chosen color can create an inviting space with style way beyond its diminutive size. The number one color rule for a small space? There are no rules — really. If you want your apartment to look like your favorite Pucci scarf, do your thing. The goal should always be to make your rented space personal and appeal to you. Having said that, the experts who deal with color and interior design all the time do know a thing or two. Here are their tips and tricks. Choose
Sharp Colors One of the best ways to expand a space is with very clear colors, says designer Mark McCauley, ASID, author of Interior Design for Idiots. “Choose a palette of sharper colors as opposed to duller ones. Sharp as in bright chintzes mixed with colorful plaids or really hot reds and electric blues, yellows and greens (with plenty of air between the pieces). Color combinations with negative space in between will enhance the space’s clarity and openness.”
Color Unexpected Accents Bring splashes of color to a radiator, the inside of a bookshelf or a windowsill to bring excitement and depth to a room. If you’re lucky enough to have a foyer or hall, paint that a dark color and ease into a lighter shades in the living room, which will make it feel more spacious by comparison.
How to Choose Colors
Begin at the Beginning
Determine what features or existing finishes in the room you would consider permanent. Consider the cabinets, tile or a brick fireplace. For example, if the wood of your kitchen cabinets has a red undertone, make sure the paint color you choose works well with that hue.
Create a Focal Point
Emphasize your home’s attractive architectural features, such as crown molding or arched window treatments, with contrasting paint — lighter or darker than the wall — or by painting them with a glossy finish. You can also make one wall an accent wall by painting it a different color, giving it a faux finish, adding wallpaper or a border.
Unify the Color Flow
You can unify rooms by using a common color palette. Create distinct spaces by altering the shade and hue within the common palette.
Emphasize or Minimize
Color can emphasize certain features – and minimize others. A long narrow room will look wider if you use a slightly darker color on the shorter walls and a lighter color on the longer walls. You can make a ceiling appear higher by applying a lighter color, or lower with a darker color. To give a big room a more intimate feel, paint the walls in colors that advance toward you, such as red, gold, orange and brown. To help a small room seem larger, paint the walls in colors that make them appear to recede, such as blue, green or violet.
Reflect on Light Sources
Remember that the color you choose may look different at various times of the day and night. The warm tones of incandescent lights will have a different influence on the color than the natural light of day. Once you’re aware of how different light sources can affect your color choices, you can change your room’s “mood” to match the pace of your day.
Add Color with Confidence
Watch these 5 simple tips for choosing interior colors.
Create a Focal Wall While some designers frown on the idea of painting one wall a different or deeper color than the others, it can work wonders in a small space, says designer and actress Libby Langdon, a contributor to HGTV’s Small Space, Big Style. “Don’t be afraid of bold colors,” she says. “Sometimes a darker color on one wall can make it recede, making the space look larger.”
Connect Spaces With Shades of Color Just as different wall colors can divide your apartment into different work areas, different shades of the same color can unite all the rooms, as can a pattern that’s repeated. “In a small space, in particular, these little touches — the pillow that matches the lampshade fabric, the style of the mirror that echoes a side table — can all add up to a cohesive space,” McCauley says.
Get Spicy in the Kitchen Apartment kitchens are a great place to use color, says kitchen designer Jason Laudau of Amazing Spaces, LLC (www.amazingspacesllc.com) in New York. “Hang up the china you never use — it saves space, adds color and glams up the kitchen,” he says. “Or be very bold and paint the walls a trendy color. Red is hot!”
Go Bold in the Bathroom Sure, something pastel in the peachy-pink palette will look great in the bathroom — especially when you look in the mirror and see your rosy complexion. But for major affect, increase the bodacious scale. That’s what designer Ron Marvin http://www.ronmarvin.com (www.ronmarvin.com) did in his New York City apartment bathroom that’s painted a rich, chocolate brown.
Vamp It Up Beautiful faux finishes and specialty techniques can add a lot of character to a small space, says designer Dawn Burns-Pratt, ASID. “Painting the ceiling a darker color and extending the same color down the wall about 14 inches, or using metallic stripes in that same space with a chair rail and lighter color below looks terrific — and expands the appearance of the space,” she says.
Add Color That Travels The wonderful thing about color is that it’s a really cheap way to decorate, and it can be added in non-paint ways, says designer Alice Fakier, this year’s HGTV Design Star runner-up and host of Ask Aliceon HGTV.com. “Apartment dwellers can get color on their walls by painting big canvases, hanging fabric or using wall decals,” she says. And when you’re ready for a larger space? You can take your color with you and go.
Stretch It With Stripes Draw the eye up with a wall of colorful stripes, says Langdon. Or paint the ceiling a lighter color than the walls to make it seem airier.
Don’t Forget Black Whatever colors you choose for your small space, add one object that is black, says designer McCauley. “The black item — say, in a torchere lamp or a frame — will help ground the space and clarify the other colors. Try it, it works!”
Experiment With ColorBefore you start slapping paint all over the blank canvas that is your apartment walls, consider these “baby-step” options. – Experiment with 2-ounce samples. Many paint companies, including California Paints and Benjamin Moore offer them. That’s enough paint to cover a 1’ by 2’ area, which should give you a good idea of what your chosen hue really looks like. Make sure to view it in natural and artificial light. – Check out HGTV.com’s My Color Central to find the color that suits your mood — and your space. You can check out various color combos via interactive color guides at BenjaminMoore.com, http://www.Farrow-Ball.com and http://www.Behr.com. – Use photos of your own apartment and mix and match paint colors with Benjamin Moore’s Personal Color Viewer CD. Visit http://www.BenjaminMoore.com for details.
Color Rules for Small Spaces
When it comes to coloring your apartment, it’s definitely okay to go outside the lines.
Putting together our post on modern sun rooms, we saw a lot of light, open spaces. But what if you live in a small, dark apartment? There are ways to lighten the space and open it up. Click below to see them…
In general, light walls make a small room feel larger. This image is from Victor and Soeun’s Loft from Small Cool 2007. There are exceptions to this rule: a dark accent wall can bring definition and scale to a small space and bright colors can definitely help to enliven a small room. Unless you’re going for a cloistered, cozy feeling avoid dark chocolate browns on all four walls.
If you can paint the floor white, it’s a good trick for making a small space appear larger. This image is from Joseph D.’s Wicker Park Nest. By painting white floors and white walls, he was able to make a very small space seem open and airy.
Hang curtains at the edges of the windows. You can make a window appear larger by flanking it with floor-length curtains that visually extend into the wall. In this image from the Shade Store, a small window has a lot more presence because of the drapes.
Don’t fill the room with too much furniture, and choose pieces with a small footprint that are visually lightweight. Low-profile furniture or pieces with legs (and open space underneath) will make a room seem larger. Image: Eames Chair from Room & Board. (Also notice how the artwork is hung a little lower to fit the scale of the room in this photo.)
Use accessories that emit and reflect light. If you don’t have the space for floor or table lamps, use wall-mounted sconces (especially in areas that don’t get a lot of light). Hang a mirror on a wall opposite a window to reflect light into the space.Ron’s Hotel “Sweet” from the Smallest Coolest 2007 Contest makes good use of lamps and mirrors.
- By Anne Krueger
- Clear Out the Clutter
There’s nothing that makes a small space feel cramped more than having too much stuff. Work out ways to get collections out of view, organized behind doors, table skirts, or on shelves. With things neatly arranged and out of sight, the space that is in view will feel orderly and open.
- Open the Way
With furniture and accessories blocking the view into a room and out to open spaces, a room will look cramped. By moving furniture out and away from walkways, you’ll open up the space and make it feel larger. You can also choose short pieces of furniture like an ottoman, an armless, open chair, or a low table, and place large, tall pieces along a wall rather than out in the open space. If you can see the floor, the room will look larger.
- Chooser Soft, Light Hues
Whereas dark, warm colors make a space feel cozy and intimate, light, cool colors make a space feel open and airy. For optimum effect, select soft tones of blues and greens.
- Use a Monochromatic Color Scheme
Choose colors that are in the same color family and use tone-on-tone woven upholstery fabrics, textured wall finishes, delicate tonal drapery fabrics. Cool colors and delicate warm colors on most surfaces give the room a more open look.
- Coordinate Wall and Furniture Colors
Contrasting colors tend to break up a space. Pieces of furniture are less interrupting and tend to blend with the space if they’re colored to match the wall color.
- Let in the Light
Any room will look larger if it’s well-lit, either by natural light or artificial lighting. Get rid of heavy draperies and open up the windows to let the light of the outdoors into the space. Add more lamps or install track lighting or recessed lighting.
Decorating Small Spaces
Try Using Large Furniture When Decorating Small Spaces
By Lauren Flanagan, About.com Guide
Try using a few well-chosen pieces rather than trying to cram in too much when decorating small spaces.sxc.hu/Joseph HobanJust because you live in a small space it doesn’t mean that you have to use small furniture. Sometimes using large pieces when decorating small spaces can actually make a room look larger.Using a lot of small pieces of furniture can make it look like you’re trying to cram too much in and the room can end up look cluttered and cramped. The key to keep this from happening is to use large furniture, but just use less of it.For example, in a tiny living room rather than trying to fit in a sofa, chairs, ottoman, coffee table and side tables, try using a sofa, a single table or bench, and perhaps a single side chair. If you have the space you can even include a large armoire for storage. Get rid of excess small pieces and instead include only what you’ll actually use. Then try to open up the space with an oversized mirror on one wall (if you can get it across from a window so much the better).It sounds crazy but it works. Before trying it out draw up a floor plan on some graph paper or use an online room planner to experiment with furniture placement.
Make Your Small Bathroom Look and Feel Larger
You Don’t Have to Build an Addition to Your Home
By Lauren Flanagan, About.com GuideSee More About:
Light walls give this bath an open feeling.Coral NafieUnless you live in a custom-built home with a luxurious bath and dressing room, you probably wish your bathroom were larger. Without adding any more square footage, you might feel less cramped if you use some of our tips to make your small bathroom look and feel larger.It’s true that a small bathroom can feel cozy and intimate. But it can also feel claustrophobic and depressing. Depending on your decorating style, it can be quiet and sophisticated, charming, or sparkling like a jewel box.No matter what style you decorate your small bath, though, it will always be a small bath.But with a bit of visual magic, color change, and lighting, you can transform your small bath into a cozy retreat.A bathroom is a very special space, but the theories about space enlargement apply here as to any other room in the house. Use some of these decorating tricks to make your bathroom look and feel larger, even if it stays the same size.Select Colors for SerenityPale, soft color schemes tend to give the illusion of more space. I’m not saying that the small bath has to be pink, but avoid strong, exciting colors. Use the brights for accessories and towels, but select pastel tones, neutrals, and whites for backgrounds. “Cool” colors give the feeling of serenity.Brighten Up the RoomWithout taking up any counter space, you can add extra lighting to “open up” the look of your bathroom and add interest. Recessed can lighting can be installed into the ceiling and focused on any work space. Wall sconces or a countertop lamp will add warmth. More expensive alternatives for bringing more light into the room would be skylights, larger windows, or Solatubes.Trade a Large Vanity for a Delicate Pedestal SinkA vanity cabinet provides nice storage under a sink, but takes up lots of floor space in a small bath. Replacing the vanity with a pedestal or wall-mounted sink can be be fairly inexpensive. Your bath will definitely feel more open. Find alternative storage space with a small shelf or organize a nearby linen closet. When you remove the vanity cabinet, you’ll probably have to repair the flooring.Cut Back Anything That Sticks OutEven the smallest piece of furniture or accessory that sticks out into the room can stop where your eye goes and make your room seem to “shrink”. Remove wall shelves, hanging racks, or decorative accessories on the walls that cut into the room and make it look smaller. Of course, you may need some of the pieces for comfort and their usefulness, but if the room feels bigger without them, think of some other way to supply the space you need.Next: Accessories, Flooring, and MirrorsWhen you have a small space it can be difficult to make certain areas to stand out without the room looking too crowded. Here are a few small space tricks that will add impact to certain items and spaces in your small room.ArtworkTrick the eye into perceiving small rooms as more spacious by using wide mats and large frames for pieces of art like photographs and paintings. Use the artwork to create focal points in your room, but surround them with visual breathing space rather than crowding them together. You can still hang several pieces on a gallery-style wall, the large mats and frames will create the breathing space you need.SculpturesFor those of you who have impressive or well-loved pieces, call attention to them by placing them on a plinth (a platform used to add height). Like artwork, don’t crowd them in with other items, but rather give them some breathing space. Alternatively, you can place them in a high contrast vignette. Take a look at the photo for example. It’s very dramatic due to the contrasting black and white and the collection of shapes.FurnitureGive your small pieces of furniture some impact by accenting them with high-contrast details. One of the best ways is to cover an upholstered piece in a solid, pale fabric and then outline it with piping (or welting) in a high contrast color such as black. The piece will instantly assume a larger visual proportion.WindowsSometimes small windows are a fact of life, but you can give them a visual punch by making them look larger. Hang draperies outside the window frames and as high as possible to “fake it”. Keep the draperies the same color as the surrounding walls to increase the impact and make the wall appear larger.Seating AreaIf you want to call attention to a seating area (say if you live in a studio or open-concept loft) throw a graphic, patterned rug on the floor in the center of the space (under the coffee table if you’ve got one). A zebra rug for instance, will immediately draw the eye. Just be sure to use subtle fabric on the surrounding furniture to get the most impact
5 Tips for Fooling the Eye and Making a Room Look Bigger:
“In a small space, everything counts.” – That’s the main idea behind this article, and how we can make a small room look bigger, with some clever tricks.
Small rooms can feel confining and uncomfortable. Luckily we can utilize certain design concepts that fool the eye and make our rooms seem much bigger and spacious. Some solutions for small spaces, that can make a room in your home look larger are color techniques, furniture arranging, and lighting considerations can give the look of space. These are a few of the topics that we are gonna to present in this article. By the way … Maybe you want to sell your house and there is one thing you can do to make the house easier to sell. This thing is make the house look bigger. So let’s begin …
Some time ago I’ve wrote an article where I’ve discussed about room colors and their influence on our moods. Today you’ll learn how to use colors rto make your room look bigger. Cream colors and icy blues are just a few of the best color combinations that can open up a tiny room into a bigger living area. It is all about illusion. Light colors make your room look bigger and brighter. Light and brightly colored walls are more reflective making a space feel open and airy, which will help
to maximize the effect created by natural light. While dark colors absorb light, making the room look smaller. For optimum effect, select soft tones of blues and greens, and always remeber that brighter rooms look bigger and more inviting.
You can paint your walls light and use dark colors for the border and trim. Paint your wall trim and moldings a lighter color than your walls. When you paint your moldings light, the wall appears further back, making your living room appear bigger.
Sometimes furniture can take a lot of space. To avoid that here are some useful tips :
- Use multi-function furniture like a chest that can be used as a coffee table, sofa beds, chest of drawers, and beds with drawers for storage etc. Stick to clean lines in the furniture. Use an extendable dining table, folding tables and nest of tables, which can be tucked away when you don’t need them.
- Place the large pieces of furniture against the walls so the open space in the middle isn’t broken up.
- Scale the furniture to fit the size of the room and don’t block walking pathways. With furniture and accessories blocking the view into a room and out to open spaces, a room will look cramped. By moving furniture out and away from walkways, you’ll open up the space and make it feel larger. If you can see the floor, the room will look larger. Having oversized sofas or too much furniture will make the living room look smaller.
- Consider having at least some of the furniture pieces the same color as the walls. Even the bigger items like armoires and chest will begin to blend in to the room and widen out the room. You can add some detail by stenciling in a design or accent onto the furniture.
- Setting your furniture at an angle works because the longest straight line in any given room is it’s diagonal. When you place your furniture at an angle, it leads the eye along the longer distance, rather than the shorter wall. As an added bonus, you often get some additional storage space behind the piece in the corner, too!
- If the furniture in your room is tall, that might be making it seem as though the ceiling is lower than it actually is. Make sure there is plenty of space between your furniture, too.
- Choose a sofa and chairs with open arms and exposed legs. A glass table, will keep keep the appearance of a open and free space. This allows light to filter under the furniture, making the room appear airier.
Lighting is a key element in opening up a space.
Let the light into the room too. Buy letting the natural light flow into the room, you will be surprised at how this will open up the room and make it look larger. If you do not have a lot of natural light, you can add some lighting features to the room to make it look bigger. You will be amazed at how this small addition can make a big difference.
If you have access to natural light, make full use of it. Bring it into your home through windows. Full height glass panes work best. Having a large picture window can make a room seem bigger because a barrier between visitor and outside view has been removed. Instead of seeing a dimension-defining wall, visitors see an expansive view of the outdoors. Make sure window coverings are sheer, or are pulled back, to bring more light in. If the view is bad use hanging plants and potted flowers near windows. Lamps will bring in colour and focus attention.
Keep your room tidy and organized. There’s nothing that makes a small space feel cramped more than having too much stuff. With things neatly arranged and out of sight, the space that is in view will feel orderly and open. A cluttered room equals a smaller room.
Don’t cove your walls with a lot of pictures. One large painting works better than a group of small paintings. If there’s too much going on, all clamoring for attention, it can make the room feel busy and crowded. So, when decorating a small room, create a focal point, one area or feature that will draw the eye. In the dining room, the focal point will probably be the table. In the bedroom, it’ll probably be the bed. Make that focal point the star of the room. Arrange the furniture so that focus is
drawn to that area, and keep the décor in the rest of the room to a minimum ( limit the number of accessories ).
Keep the floor as clear as possible. This is one of the most important ways of maintaining a sense of spaciousness. One more tip – Take out large rugs to create the illusion of more floor space.
Mirrors can make your room look larger. Use a focal point and angle your mirrors towards it, which will give the illusion of depth. The mirrors also reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room brighter during the day and night. They bounce light deep into the room, making it appear larger. This is especially effective with near a window so the outdoors can be reflected. Mirrors on the walls and glass tabletops will make it seem like there’s a more open flow. You can also use mirrored cabinet doors to make spaces feel large and uncluttered.
Best Color Selection to Paint a Small Bedroom
By Ralph Polson
Choosing the right color for a small bedroom can help make it seem larger than it really is. Color has the ability to alter one’s visual perception of size and space, so it can be used to great advantage when painting a smaller room. Light colors can open up a room and make it feel airy and spacious, while darker shades can make a room feel small. If you are getting ready to redecorate a small bedroom, here are some color guidelines that can help you make the most of your room.
Light is Right for Small Bedrooms
Light colors are almost always the best choice when painting a small bedroom. Pastel colors such as pink and light blue are perennial favorites, but peach, yellow, light sage and lilac can also be used quite effectively. When choosing a color, it can help to compare the furnishings in the room to the paint sample strips at the store. Once you find a darker color on the strip that is complementary to the other features in the room, simply choose one of the lightest shades on the same strip as your wall color. This can be an easy way of creating a very coordinated look. Neutral shades such as cream, taupe or light earth tones can also be used quite effectively when painting a small bedroom. When decorating a spare bedroom, try to choose a color scheme that is gender-neutral, so that all your guests will feel at home in the room.
Visually Moving Walls Back
By making the proper color choice, you can actually make the walls in a small bedroom recede, creating the illusion of more space. If you have light colored furniture in the bedroom, choose a wall color that is close to the same shade. This will help the furniture blend in with the walls, creating the illusion of additional space. It can also be helpful if your flooring is also light-colored, as this will help to blur the lines between the floor and the walls, making the room seem bigger. You can make the room seem taller than it really is by painting the ceiling white or cream. Painting the ceiling white while the other walls are painted a different color effectively tricks the eyes into thinking the ceiling is further away, which is what creates the illusion of room height.
Reducing Textures and Patterns
Although textures and patterns can be quite visually interesting, they can actually make a small bedroom seem even smaller. Patterns and textures will help draw additional attention to the walls, which is not the best approach for a small room. Instead, keep walls and ceiling smooth, and resist the urge to add wallpaper borders, stenciling or other painted details to the walls. By keeping the walls plain, the room will seem more spacious. If you simply must include some pattern or texture on the walls, keep it light and subtle for the best effect. However, a better approach is to add texture to the room using furniture, textiles and other accessories, like metal artworkor wood wall sculptures, instead of adding texture to the walls.
Cool and receding colours are located on the left e.g. blue green and purple
warm or advancing colours are on the right such as red orange and yellow.
Confident Color: When to Use Cool and Warm Hues
Change the Mood of a Room With Colors that Advance or Recede44EmbedKnowing the difference between a warm color and a cool color can help you choose color combinations more confidently. When you understand how the temperature of a color affects how it’s perceived, you can use that knowledge to design color schemes that work for you.When you’re confronted with a blank space and it’s time decide a color scheme, how can you know how to make color work with you instead of against you to accomplish your design goals? How can you know what color goes where?The answer to those questions is in the color wheel.I talked before about how to use the color wheel to devise some basic color schemes. It also can help you determine the temperature of a color.The basic color wheel is split into two halves, a warm half and a cool half. The warm half runs from red through yellow-green. The cool half runs from green through red-violet.This is not an arbitrary division. Our eyes and brains perceive different wavelengths of light as colors. Red wavelengths come from higher temperatures than blue wavelengths. That’s important if you’re studying physics, but how that applies to interior design is that warm colors tend to advance and cool colors tend to recede.Since warm colors tend to advance, this means that they tend to draw in a space. This red living room feels more intimate because it’s red. If the designer wanted to make the room feel more open and expansive, she would have chosen a cooler color.Orange, as a warm color, can do the same thing red’s doing in the photo above. You can use warmer colors to draw in a room and make it feel smaller.If you have a large, sparsely furnished room and your goal is to close it in and make it feel more intimate, a warm color like this yellow can do that for you.This tendency of warm colors to advance can be seen at work in this yellow-green accent wall. That accent wall is pulling the stairs closer to the dining table. Of course, it’s not actually moving anything, but the perception is that the space feels closer.If you’re deciding on a paint scheme and there are elements in a room that you want to draw closer, point them in a warmer color.Green is the first cool color of the color wheel. In green, the tendency for colors to advance stops and they begin to recede. By recede I mean that cool colors expand a room or a space.This bathroom feels more expansive with a green wall than it would with an equally saturated red.A blue wall tends to make a room feel larger. This is important to know if you have a small room that you want to expand rather than make more intimate and close.You can mix and match warm and cool colors with purpose and meaning to advance your design goals and make a room more interesting. The blue walls and draperies in this living room are expanding away from the viewer and the yellow accents are advancing toward the viewer.The warm colors in the painting on the mantle in this purple room is the clear focal point. By choosing the cool colors of the walls and furnishings, the designer is adding emphasis to the painting and she’s using her knowledge of color theory to advance her goal.The effect is subtle but impossible to miss.The closer to red cool colors get on the wheel, the warmer they become. The last stop on the cool side of the wheel is violet-red. After violet-red, colors start to advance again.Color theory provides a general framework to describe the behaviors of colors, and exceptions to these generalizations abound. Still, the tendencies of warm colors to advance and cool colors to recede are almost always true.If you have a room with a low ceiling and you want the room to feel taller, paint the ceiling a white that’s been tinted with blue. Similarly, if you have a very wide room that you want to feel closer and more intimate, then paint the room in a warm color and it will do just that.How would you use warm and cool colors in your own home?More: Choosing Hues: Roll with the Color Wheel
Whatever your decorative tastes, the colour palette you use in your kitchen will enhance the overall style if it’s been considered carefully; while there are no hard and fast rules regarding “proper” colour usage, there are certain combinations and ways of using colour that promise success. Balance is the key. Here are somebasic tips to consider when developing your kitchen’s palette:
Here are some basic tips to consider when developing your kitchens palette:
Avoid using equal areas of contrasting colours. Use lighter or more neutral colours on large expanses, and confine your bright colours to accents.
Too much dark colour can be depressing. Give dark colours life with white or light tints to accent. Conversely, punch up lightly tinted expanses with dark, rich accents.
Never use a colour just once in your kitchen. Repetition in colours and patterns ties the space together.
Balance pattern with plain Too much pattern or too many textures are overwhelming. Use plain areas of colour to give the eye a rest, and use texture and pattern to relieve the boredom.
Colour intensifies with area. The more of a colour you use, the stronger it will seem. Choose a value or two lighter than you think you would like.
Wall colour will reflect upon itself, intensifying the colours. Compensate by choosing a lighter shade, or use a flat finish.
Light effects colour. Natural light changes colour and intensity as the day passes.
The direction from which your light comes should be considered. For east windows that greet the morning sun, choose cheerful, yet muted, warm colours such as yellow. For southern exposures, select muted, cool midtones and neutrals. Northern exposures need light tints, accented with bright, warm colours. West light requires a cool palette of light values with accents in colours ranging from blues to violets.
Basic Principles For Working Out A Colour Scheme
1.DOMINANT OR CONTROLLING COLOR
Decide on your dominant or controlling color, which may dominate by covering a large area or by strength of color in a smaller area. Decide whether your foundation or background color is to be the dominant or a secondary color. Plan to use a large amount of quiet background color, a small amount of bold, strong color. All large foundation areas should be in light or grayed tones.
Clear colors are gayer, more cheerful, but grayed tones are more restful, their harmonies more subtle. Mixing gray with bright colors brings them into relation with other colors in the room. As red and yellow in bright tones seem to clash. Mixed with gray, they become rose and tan and go very well together. Use this principle also in buying materials. Avoid too much graying. It gives muddy tones, dirty grays, flat greens. A little gray goes far.
3.RELIEF AND CONTRAST COLORS
Decide on relief and contrast colors and bring them into all parts of the room composition. Remember the order in the amount of space allowed each one, foundation, then relief, then contrast. All colors including background colors should be keyed to the dominant color. Soften strong contrast colors with white. Contrast is less in lighter tints. Soften darker contrasts with grey.
Use pure bright intense colors only in accessories, etc., Distribute them so they eill not be spotty. The smaller the area the brighter the color may be. The larger the area the softer the tone should be. Don’t use large amounts of pure bright color.
This is another means of creating harmony. A key color is the one about which the color scheme is built- the dominant, or controlling color. All other colors in the room must be “keyed” with it- harmonized. Two colors in which any part of a third color is present will be linked together. Example, to key red and yellow to each other, mix them both with a little of the third primary hue – blue. Violet and green will result, and these are harmonious to use with your strong tones. Remember this principle in buying as well as mixing colors. A lovely print or art object will have these tones keyed for you, and you can use them for your own composition. The safe rule is to avoid too many colors and too strong tones except in accents, etc. Most colors eill “go together” if you soften them.
POINTS TO REMEMBER IN MATCHING SAMPLES FOR COLORS
1.Use larger samples if possible, especially in patterned materials, but keep approximate proportions of chart. Sizes are determined according to area and interest. Ceiling and floor areas, for example, are equal- but floor interest is greater, hence the larger sample. If several items are the same color add them to make one sample.
2.Make allowances for texture. Soft rough surface in paint, paper, or fabric makes colors appear darker. Hard glossy surfaces appear lighter.
3.Make allowance for distance. Colors look brighter when they are close, farther away they seem softer, grayed by atmosphere. Colors which match exactly 1 ft. away may seem quite different at 15 ft. This is important in a large high ceilinged room.
4.Make allowance for proximity. When side by side, Complimentary colors brighten each other, related colors, when both light or both dark, deaden each other; neutral colors brighten clear colors, but pure strong primary colors deaden neutrals such as grays, browns, etc. Light and dark tones brighten each other, especially white for dark colors and black for light tones; one color may seem to change another’s hue as when a strong clear color gives a tinge of its complementary to a neutral- red for example, may give a greenish cast to gray unless a little red has been mixed with the gray.
5.Make allowance for proportion. The larger the area the darker the color will appear. Choose a wall color slightly lighter than you really want it. Don’t decide exact shade of a painted wall until all other materials have been chosen. It is easier to match paint to fabric and paper than the other way around.
WHAT DECORATORS MEAN WHEN THEY USE THESE COLOR TERMS
Each section in the color wheel is called a hue. To change a hue, another color (not black, white or pure gray) must be added to it. Every hue has a different wave length from every other hue. Mixed with its complement equally it produces gray.
Also called “normal”, also “fundamental”. Primaries are the three pigment colors which cannot be produced by any mixture of other pigments. These are red like that of a geranium flower, yellow like that of ripe lemons, blue like the deep clear hue of a sunny southern sky.
Secondaries are the three colors which are produced by mixing two of the three primaries in equal amounts. Red + yellow = orange, red + blue = purple (or violet), yellow + blue = green
Tertiaries are the colors produced by mixing a primary with a secondary, the exact shade depending upon the proportion.
All colors which are made up of more complicated mixtures than those producing secondary and tertiary colors are called complex.
Black and White are considered neutral. Also all those tints and shades in which tones of gray or brown predominate
The light tones resulting when white is mixed with a color. Much white makes a color cold.
The dark tones resulting when black is mixed with a color. Much black deadens the color.
Each hue has many tones. By tone- or tonal value we mean the relative strength of the hue as it approaches black or white at the opposite ends of the value scale. Mixed with white, a color is “pale” in tone; mixed with black, it is “dark” in tone. The upper and lower extremes of any color would be white (or very pale gray), and black.
This term is used interchangeably with value, tonal value, and intensity. The chroma of a color such as yellow is “light”; the chroma of a color such as Navy blue is “dark”. When a color fades, it loses chroma.
This term is used to describe a quality of warm clear colors in light reflecting tones and finishes, such as light golden-yellow. Clear white is also luminous. Literally “luminous” are only metals in gold, silver, platinum, or clear plastics.
COLOR AND LIGHT
After the design element of space, color and light are probably two of an interior designers most powerful design tools. Color and light can alter the use and perception of a space since they can be manipulated for effect or emotion. Color can be used to define form and give a sense of scale rather than merely provide a background. Color can be used to create an illusion or to emphasize a dramatic architectural form. Color is a mood setting and emotion producing tool. Working with color is a science as well as an art.
HOW WE SEE COLOR AND LIGHT
Color is not a physical part of objects we see, but rather is the effects of light waves bouncing off or passing through the objects, in fact, if there were no light, there would be no color. Therefore, light and color are inseparable.
MODIFIERS OF LIGHT
Indeed, color cannot exist without light, because colors are actually other names for various mixtures of radiant, electromagnetic energy. But how then do we explain colors in actual objects? The colors that we see in objects are the result of light waves that reach the eye after the object has selectively absorbed some of the wavelengths and either reflected or transmitted the others. In other words, the color, or pigmentation, of an object absorbs all colors of light except its own color, which is either reflected or transmitted to the eye. For example, if white light falls on a red surface, that surface will absorb all the wavelengths except the red ones, which are reflected back to the eye, allowing us to perceive the color red. The material or texture of an object will also influence how much light is absorbed, reflected, or transmitted. When light falls on an unpolished (diffuse) surface, light waves are reflected in all directions because of the overall even surface. Smooth, shiny surfaces reflect more light, and dull or matte surfaces absorb most of the light waves, thus modifying the visual appearance.
COLOR THEORY AND SYSTEMS
To describe a color with reasonable accuracy, three basic properties have been designated to identify the dimensions, or qualities, of color; hue, the name of a color; value, the lightness or darkness of a color; and intensity, or chroma, the degree of purity or strength of a color.
Hue is the name, such as red, blue or yellow, given to each color to distinguish it from the other colors. It refers to the color in its purest form, that is, with no blacks or whites added.
Value designates the darkness or lightness of a color. Values can be expressed by shades, tints, and tones. Shades are produced by the addition of black to a color, which will darken the hue; tints are determined by how much white is added to a hue, which lightens the color; and tones are produced by adding gray to a hue.
The chroma of a color is the purity, saturation, or amount of pigment it exhibits. Colors that exhibit a high degree of chroma are those that are not grayed but rather are at their ultimate degree of vividness. Adding black or white to a color can lower its intensity, or vividness. Adding a complementary color can also lower the saturation of a color.
As Sir Isaac Newton continued his experiments with light and the color spectrum, he recognized that a relationship formed between each color and its adjacent color. By joining the end colors, red and violet, to form a circle, he found that the bands of color flowed together in a continuous spectrum. From these early experiments, the color circle or color wheel was developed and further refined into color systems. Several color systems have evolved since Newton’s early experiments, each one based on a different group of basic, or primary, colors.
Here are some of the most commonly used systems:
12 Part Color System – Johannes Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832)
The Munsell Color System – Albert Munsell (1858 – 1918)
The Ostwald Color System – Wilhelm Ostwald (1853 – 1932)
The Gerritsen Color System – Frans Gerritsen (1975)
The Kuppers Color System – Harald Kuppers
The concept of color harmony is the basis of understanding the theories of arranging colors into practical color schemes. Just as the Munsell and Ostwald color systems use a systematic approach to determine harmonies, guidelines for arranging colors based on other systems have also been developed. Designers establish color schemes to set a basic guide, or rule of thumb, to build upon.
The schemes that follow are exactly that – a foundation of color principles to build upon. They can be interpreted differently or modified according to the situation. In fact, some designers color schemes do not seem to follow any of the basic schemes, yet work very well. A successful color scheme is not necessarily determined by which concept was followed but by how it was applied and to what proportions.
Perhaps the most basic of the color schemes. A single hue is varied throughout in tints, tones and shades. The one – color combination seems to assure some unity or harmony through color application
The analogous color scheme uses colors (often three of more) that are adjacent on the color wheel. Many designers select one of the colors as a dominant theme and accent with the other analogous hues.
Offer an even greater variety in contrast or accent by using colors that are directly opposite on the color wheel. When these colors are in their purest form and placed next to one another, because they contrast with one another, they appear more intense than if viewed separately. These brilliant contrasts are frequently used in graphic design when a forceful visual impact is needed. In interiors, however, the hues are generally toned down, reduced in amounts, or varied in value and intensity to lessen the harsh visual statement.
Any three hues that are equidistant on the color wheel comprise a triadic color scheme.
OTHER COLOR SCHEMES
A simple color scheme cam be created by using black, white, gray, off white, beige, tan or brown. Interiors with neutral, or achromatic ( meaning without color), schemes tend to visually expand a space and make good backgrounds for colorful furniture, artwork and accessories.
SPLIT AND DOUBLE COMPLEMENTARY
A split complement scheme resembles a narrow-armed Y on the color wheel rather than exact opposites or complementary colors. Such a scheme thus provides three colors instead of the two of complementary combinations, thereby offering a wider range of color selection.
Four colors equidistant on the standard 12 part color wheel form a tetrad scheme.
Color never appears visually as it physically is supposed to, for color is perceived in relation to the total environment, rather than by itself. Color can even deceive the eye, for it has the ability to change or influence other colors. These visual illusions are very important to interior designers, as their desired color effect can change due to the interaction of hues on one another.
SUCCESSIVE CONTRAST OR AFTERIMAGE
Two hues directly opposite each other are called complementary colors. When complementary hues are placed next to each other, they produce a strong contrast and vibrancy, referred to as successive contrast. If a person looks at a particular hue, such as a red surface, for a period of time and then suddenly shifts to a white or gray surface, his or her eyes usually will visualize the color green instead of white or gray. The phenomenon of “seeing” the complementary color is called afterimage.
Color is rarely seen in isolation, especially in interior environments, where different colors are usually viewed together. This creates an optical effect referred to as simultaneous contrast, a perceived change of a color as the result of the influence of a surrounding contrasting color.
The illusion of simultaneous contrast can be expanded by making three different hues appear as only two. This is done by selecting the mixture of two background colors to be the middle color. When this middle color is placed on each of the two background colors, it produces the visual illusion of the other background color.
SUBTRACTION OF COLOR
The background color “absorbs” or “subtracts” its own hue from the center color. This process is referred to as the subtraction of color and can be used to create still another illusion involving the use of color, making two different colors look the same. By experimenting with colored objects on colored backgrounds or in colored environments, we find that a ground will subtract, or absorb, its own hue and thus project the remaining hues. A blue – green sofa against a blue background will make the sofa appear “green” because the blue ground absorbs the “blue” from the “blue- green” color. The lightness or darkness of a color will also be absorbed in the same way that its hue is. Thus, light colors on light backgrounds will appear darker because the light ground subtracts the lightness of the center objects color.
PSYCHOLOGY OF COLOR
Interior Designers must understand the perception and use of color and its resulting effects on human behavior. Studies have shown that color can create excitement, relaxation, calmness, or cheerfulness and can even increase productivity in working environments. The way a person interprets or feels about color can vary according to experiences, education, and cultural association with color. Color association, or symbolism, is generally based on a person’s individual innate personality or cultural background. For example, in Western cultures, black generally symbolizes death and mourning, whereas in Eastern civilizations, the symbolic color of death is white. Some common color associations in Western societies include:
Red: is associated with battle, blood, fire, passion, love and excitement. Historically it represents royalty, majesty, and triumph.
Orange: symbolizes friendliness, pride, ambition, warmth, and relaxation and is stimulating to the appetite.
Yellow: symbolizes sunlight and is associated with springtime, cheerfulness, and optimism. Yellow also connotates safety because it is easy to see.
Green: represents nature and the feeling of calmness, friendliness, and freshness.
Blue: stands for the truth, honesty, loyalty, and integrity. It also is associated with coolness, repose, and formality.
Purple or violet: is the color of royalty and has religious significance.
Colors are also commonly associated with a psychological “temperature” and are divided into warm and cool categories. Reds, oranges and yellows produce a warm and active feeling. They also appear to advance toward the eye because they seem nearer than they actually are.
A chair or sofa in an intense red fabric will generally appear larger than the same piece in a cool color, such as blue. Also, if the walls of a room are painted the same intense red, the walls will appear closer, decreasing the apparent size of the room.
The cool colors are blues, greens and violets. Tints of these colors create a restful and soothing feeling unless they are too intense in chroma. Cool colors are also known as receding hues since they appear farther away than they actually are. The apparent size of a room will increase when these colors are applied to the walls, but furnishings using cool colors will seem smaller.
A major factor in the determination of advancing or receding colors is intensity. A very intense, bright cool color will seem to advance, but a dull warm color will recede. Whether a color psychologically advances or recedes depends on the hue. (Warm colors advance, cool hues recede)
Studies on the psychological effects of color have revealed that people actually feel warmer in red and orange spaces than they do in blue and green spaces, although the temperature is constant in both environments. The complex area of the effect of color on people is still being researched. Interior Designers should be aware of some of the emotional effects color can create – especially in isolated environments.
COLOR PERCEPTION COLOR AND SPACE
The effect of color on space perception, (the apparent, versus the actual, size and distance of objects) and their distance from viewer is a very complex relationship and will vary with different users. When hues are placed closer to the viewer, they will appear more brilliant and darker than the same hues placed at a greater distance. More intense and darker colors will appear less demanding when used in very large spaces than in small spaces. Spaces with white or very light cool colors on the walls generally appear more spacious than those with darker warmer hues. Colors also appear more intense, or stronger in chroma, when covering large areas. For this reason caution should be used when selecting wall colors based on very small samples or color chips, for the color will often appear darker when applied to large areas.
COLOR AND TEXTURE
The textural quality of an object or surface will also affect the visual appearance or color. Rough textured materials will generally appear darker because they absorb light and color rather than reflect it, as do shiny surfaces and materials. Also, textured materials, such as nubby fabrics, pile carpet, and velvets will cast small shadows within themselves and appear darker than a smooth material of the same hue, value and chroma.
This is extremely important in creating a feeling of unity within an interior environment. Every color plan should ideally include some light, some dark, and some median values to create the desired effect. There are primarily two popular methods utilized for color distribution. The first specifies that the backgrounds (floors and walls ) should be the most neutral colors, the large pieces of furniture should be in middle values, and the strongest chroma should be used in the accents, such as accessories or small furniture items. The second method is to put the darker values, or stronger chroma, in the backgrounds (floors and walls) and the small accent items and use more neutralized tones for the major furniture items. The choice of one method over the other depends on personal preference and what is to be emphasized in a space – the background or the objects in it. Generally speaking, most successful spaces are planned around one dominant color and two subordinate colors that are varied in value and intensity.
COLOR APPLICATION IN INTERIORS
Color is a design tool. It’s practical application ranges from using luminescent colors for safety in highway signs and markers to using specific colors for hunting gear, life jackets, and reflectors for bicycles in order to be seen instantly. A number of studies have been done on using color so that it is conductive to activities designed for specific interior environments. For example, hospital interiors have been painted in specific colors because studies have shown that particular colors can affect behaviour and personality. The following discussion mentions some examples of color usage in commercial spaces.
Job performance is closely associated with satisfaction in the working environment. Because the work environment has a direct relationship to employee efficiency, drab offices can be counterproductive. It is important to design office spaces that will lift spirits, not depress them. Off-white, buff, and gray surroundings are not very stimulating if additional color is not used effectively. Earth colors can be comforting in an office environment, and yellow has been found to create a cheerful atmosphere and improve work concentration. Greens and blues are thought to be calming, but that effect depends on the value and saturation level of the hues. Too much white in a workplace can produce too much glare. More saturated colors, such as deep green or purple, are often used as accents, especially in executive or reception areas, to give a feeling of status and dignity. Another way to express prestige and status is through the use of natural materials, such as marble and wood. In some office environments, creating a corporate image is important. Black, gray, and white with one or more accent colors might be used. However, the brightness contrast ratio needs to be proportionate. Because white reflects 80% of light, and black approximately 5%, a brightness contrast ratio of 16 to 1, there could be physical eye discomfort.
Gray can be ideal for desk tops and working surfaces since it is a neutral color and not distracting. And because it creates a good balance in contrast between black and white, gray is able to keep the eye at a comfortable and uniform brightness level.
Warm, bright color schemes are thought to be a good choice for preschools and elementary grades since children in these age groups tend to be more extroverted. Such color schemes can also reduce anxiety and stimulate activity.
In secondary schools, beige, light greens and blue-greens are often used to create a more passive effect while enhancing the ability to concentrate.
In general, warm neutrals, light greens, and blues are used in health care environments. Blue walls create a calming effect and give an impression of expanded space that will help keep patients from feeling confined.
Red, red-orange, and orange tend to produce the most favorable appetite sensations. Blue-greens, such as aqua and turquoise, can be used successfully as backgrounds for food displays because their afterimage of red-orange enhances these colors. Green salads will appear greener on cool pink backgrounds. In fast food establishments, bright, stimulating colors and light tend to encourage rapid eating and movement.
Update by: Angela Baker of The Kitchen Emporium Inc.
Ten Ways to Make a Small Room Look LargerSkill Level: BeginnerWith features like recessed lighting, a glass table and light colors, your room will look larger.Everyone has at least one room in their home that is too small and possibly problematic to decorate. Try these tips on for size.
Most of the following designer tricks can be applied to any room:
1. For the illusion of a larger room, use a color scheme that is light rather than bright or dark. Pastels, neutrals and white are all color possibilities.
2. Use a monochromatic color scheme on the furniture, rugs and walls. Select different shades and textures of your single color.
3. Lighting is a key element in opening up a space. Recessed spot lighting is visually appealing and is perfect for a small space. A torchiere light is great for bouncing light off of the ceiling and back down on the room.Skylights and solar tubes are natural alternatives for adding light to a room.
4. Limit the number of accessories to avoid the cluttered feeling.
5. The floor and the ceiling are the fifth and sixth walls of every room. A light-colored flooring such as light oak or a light-colored carpet will make the room appear brighter and more open. The same applies to the ceiling—use a light color or white to “open up” the space above.
6. Increase the appearance of the size of the room by adding wall mirrors. They not only reflect images, they reflect light and color. Be a little daring! Use mirror tiles to mirror an entire wall. Your room will appear to double in size.
7. Don’t place too many pieces of furniture in a small space. A love seat may work better than a full-size sofa depending on the size and shape of the room. Add two medium-sized chairs or two small wood chairs. Place the chairs closer to the wall and then pull them into the area when additional seating is needed.
8. Add paintings or prints to the walls. One large painting works better than a group of small paintings.
9. The visual balance of a room is also important. A large, brightly colored element can overwhelm a room and decrease the appearance of space.
10. A glass table, whether it is a dining, coffee or end table, will keep keep the appearance of a open and free space.
The large house in the suburbs with the spacious yard is losing its popularity in some demographic segments. Generation Y is eschewing their parents’ taste for space and heading to urban centers, where they are living small. Not only do they see this as an environmentally responsible move, but the prime location and short commute is more important to them than a lavish lifestyle. Small homes and apartments usually come with even smaller bedrooms, but some color schemes will make your bedroom appear larger and still welcome you with a serene space at the end of the day.
A neutral palette of off-whites is not only soothing to many people, but it can brighten and open up a small bedroom. Vary the colors by using tones of cream and beige to set the base. Too add interest to the otherwise-colorless space, use textured fabrics and natural elements that will create depth without deviating from the color scheme. Inserting pops of your favorite color throughout the space will also add visual appeal. If you like green, use it in accent pillows on the bed or chairs, in prints on the wall or through a variety of potted plants.
If your house is in the country or your bedroom has a view of Mother Nature, think green for your bedroom walls. Choose a shade of green that is crisp and bright, and one that reflects the colors in the yard. Mimic the color of the leaves on the trees or the stems of the flowers in the garden to give you a sense that the room continues past the windows. Interior designer Jay Jeffers says that green “elevates your spirit, which is going to make any room feel larger.” When adding art and other accents to the room, stay with the natural color theme and use shades of cream, brown and terracotta.
Create a soothing space to sleep with a deep Mediterranean blue. Keep the ceiling white, but continue the blue past the walls and into the molding and carpet. Repeat the color in fabrics in the room, either as the main color or as part of a pattern, into the mats around your artwork, on your lampshades and even into floral arrangements. By using the color so completely, you create a unified space that has no beginning or end, and where the walls tend to fade into the background instead of taking center stage.
Do not be afraid to choose dark colors to warm up your space, even in small rooms. Coat the walls in a smooth espresso or coffee bean color. To give the walls some added interest, use a paint with some texture, like the paints now available with a suede finish. For a sophisticated look, use tones of cream, beige and pale blue in the accents, art and fabrics. If you are after a more chic and trendy look, paint the moldings white, place white furniture in the room and use lime, bright pink and aqua as accent colors.
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When it comes to choosing a paint color for your room, start at the top—ceilings need color too! Learn how color on the ceiling can transform a room.
Blue Blue is one of the all-time most popular colors for interior spaces. Both men and women tend to favor it by a substantial margin.
- Often the color of the sky and sea, blue is soothing, fresh, and cool. It tends to relax us and often inspires a sense of spirituality.
- For this reason, blue is frequently the first choice for bedrooms.
- Blue is thought to improve our focus and productivity making many blues a good choice for a child’s room where homework is done. It’s also an appropriate choice for a home office.
- Many people choose blue for the perception of cleanliness it conveys making it a long-time favorite for bathrooms.
- Interestingly, blues tend to suppress appetite. Despite our inherent distrust of blue foods, many people gravitate to blue in the kitchen as part of the color scheme. Combined with white, two of the most popular kitchen schemes are red and blue and blue and yellow. Both schemes have been consistently popular in kitchens for the last century.
- Blues can seem cold, depressing, or dreary, which can often be balanced with warm undertones, warm pops of color like orange and red, or by selecting a blue that synchs up well with the natural and artificial lighting.
Red Physiologically, red increases blood pressure and respiration rate. It also makes people lose track of time and stimulates appetite.
- Red is notable for its punch. It attracts our eye in a way other colors don’t. Its heat, especially with orange and yellow undertones, adds warmth to most color combinations.
- Red is a powerful color. It can easily become overwhelming, so many people who love red use it effectively as an accent color.
- Earthy reds with lots of brown tend to feel comforting while adding sophistication to otherwise muted schemes. Brick red, cinnabar, and red-browns like mahogany are versatile, too.
- Red is so eye attractive, it’s important to ensure that you use it well. Clean, well-maintained furnishings look gorgeous, but dingy red … not so much. Bluer reds, however, like crimson can age gracefully. Think vintage oriental carpets with a little patina.
- More men than women like red, but interestingly women are better able to discriminate among various shades of red.
Yellow Associated with the sun, energy, and light, yellow is the color of intellect, curiousity, and extroversion.
- A child’s earliest artistic expression is often a yellow sun with rays. Yellow flowers and comfort foods like cheesy macaroni form the foundation of deep memories and feelings.
- In nature, yellow can be a warning sign like striped bees and wasps, and because of its reflectivity, it attracts our eye like no other color. Bright, saturated yellow is often used for signage for that reason.
- In terms of interior color, large swathes of yellow can fatigue the eye and be difficult to live with. Like red, it increases metabolism. Some research indicates that people may become more easily irritated in yellow rooms.
- Yellow and gold often adds brilliance in rich schemes, especially with saturated dark shades. There is a connotation of wealth when it is used with jewel tones like emerald, sapphire, ruby, and amethyst.
- Yellows that are easier to live with include paler hues like manila file folders and soft butter.
- Yellows tending toward green, like chartreuse or acid green, tend to fluctuate in popularity but work particularly well with strong, modern, assertive schemes.
- Yellow, more than any other color, tends to be loved or disliked intensely.
Green From the fresh green of the first spring shoots to brilliant emerald jewel tones, green represents a vast spectrum of natural color. Green is frequently associated with water and tends to represent water, second only to blue. The range of greens runs from the yellow greens to bluer greens including turquoise, teal, and aqua.
- Green expresses nature, growth, peace, and harmony. It is the most balanced color in the rainbow.
- Though green is the combination of yellow and blue, because of it’s prominence on our beautiful blue and green planet, it’s much more common than other colors.
- It’s a profoundly healing color.
- In interior color schemes, greens can be assertive like chartreuse or neutral like sage greens. Both have a place, however, chartreuse tends to be a punchy color with cyclical popularity. Sage green is very calm, neutral, and easy to live with.
- Greens work well with all colors to one extent or another.
- Green has strong earth-healthy connotations from “green-building” to organic food.
Orange According to Leatrice Eiseman, the Pantone color guru, orange is the make-over winner of the last 100 years.
- Historically, orange was originally an exotic color unappreciated until the advent of the delicious fruit from Asia. It was incorporated into art and the decorative arts for its brilliance and warmth. Appreciated for its playfulness and exuberance, Arts & Crafts designers used it abundantly. Soon it was used widely in fast-food, cheesy logos, and inexpensive plastics. Today, it has been rediscovered and now has a much more sophisticated connotation.
- Oranges are cheerful, optimistic, and energetic. They are also often perceived as sophisticated and modern. Like other warm colors, it tends to improve appetite. Used in combination with yellow and a bit of green, it becomes an ideal choice for a fresh, modern kitchen.
Purple Internationally, after blue, purple is the most popular color. It’s complex, mysterious, sophisticated, and associated with vast wealth.
- Purple is found everywhere in nature from tart berries to the round glistening eggplant. It occurs in an infinite range of hues from the blue purples to those with red undertones. When combined with black, shades include the mysteriousness of deep twilight … with white, the daintiness of the elegant boudoir.
- Purple is naturally associated with scent. Think lavender, heliotrope, and pinot noir.
- There is literally a perfect purple for everyone.
- Highly symbolic, purples have at different times represented the power of kings, the patina of the ancient grandmother, and the liberation of one’s gay cousin.
- Saturated purple is a dense, dark color that can provide a potent punch of color with great impact.
- Muted shades of purple are subtle, but very flexible neutrals.
White Pure white is the presence of all color … at least in terms of light.
- White communicates perfection, simplicity, and purity.
- More than any other color, white is perceived as clean. For more than twenty years at the beginning of the 20th century, white was the color of choice for bathrooms and kitchens. White was seen as both hygenic and sterile. As the understanding of germs and viruses progressed, the color white communicated the triumph of science and technology over disease.
- Variations in white are easily detectable by the human eye so finding the right white can be challenging.
- Almost all whites have some hint of color. When using white as a background color, a very light tint can tie a color scheme together. However, white without a tint can make even the cleanest furnishings grubby.
Black Black conveys authority and submissiveness, power and sophistication, simplicity and mystery. A classic color scheme is black with red and white, which becomes one of the all-time power color combinations.
- Dark colors in general tend to make rooms seem dark and cavelike. If you want the essential cozy room use black and gray with ivory or tan to create a womb-like nest. Add a punch of color to add spice.
- Generally, even for the most Gothic teen, black walls are usually darker than most people can handle. Painting over dark walls of any kind, especially black, takes way too many coats of paint to make for a fun weekend redecorating.
- The number of color combinations using black are infinite though some have such strong cultural connotations that they are unlikely appeal to many. Halloween orange and black or the construction site black and bright yellow are two of the most prominent.
- Black is a great spot color easily used to tie a room together. Using black paint to make old furniture work together is a trick that simplifies a room and updates a space almost magically. It’s like great punctuation.
- Black is often very elegant, and looks modern in almost any setting.
- Used with whites and brights, it can be modern or traditional.
- Adding black to any color creates a shade that can warm or cool the black to create a more effective color palette.
Gray Various combinations of white and black results in a spectrum of infinite gray.
- True gray rarely occurs in nature. Most often you will detect the faintest hints of other color such as mauve, green, or pink.
- Said to enhance creativity, it’s a soothing neutral for offices and studios, especially when it tends to the blue range. A gray flannel suit gray is an authority color used in business settings when professional gravitas is needed.
- It’s also a splendid background color for artwork and furnishings. Gray works well with every color palette by doing little more than moderating its warmth or coolness. (Gray is the color of choice for use as a background in color matching.)
- Somewhat more casual than black, gray can be extremely stylish. Grays can be professional and no-nonsense, casual and soft, or modern and hard-edged.
- Gray is versatile and useful in almost any setting.
Brown Brown is a masculine favorite.
- It conveys a sense of trustworthiness, stability, and loyalty. It reassures the viewer with its sensible shoe approach to the universe.
- Browns work well where furnishings are worn and can have a patina of age without looking shabby.
- Browns combine well with all spicy earth tones and are particularly well suited to family or play rooms. and are good for rooms that get a lot of use.
- Browns encompass a huge range of neutrals.
- Modernizing brown is often an exercise in uncommon combinations, which can result in sophisticated fresh schemes.
Pink Pink is really the tint of red … that is, it’s red with white added. However, in color, especially in terms of usage and perception, pink is used in vastly different ways than red. As a pastel, it is often seen as a child’s color and in Western culture is considered the quintessence of femininity.
- Pink appears to create a calming, soothing environment.
- In the last 100 years, pink has been consistently popular but with marked periods of favoritism in interior design.
- Pink is sweet and dainty, childlike and innocent. It has historically combined well with pale blue for children’s rooms, but has also been favored for bathrooms, bedrooms, and to a lesser extent has been popular in kitchens.
- Pinks vary from light shell pinks to vibrant fuschias and with varying amounts of warm or cool tones to create a vast array of very comfortable color.
- Many people look particularly good in pink rooms, which accounts to some extent for its popularity.
- Combined with other colors pink is a terrific foil for modern schemes that may be too somber or serious. Pink adds an element of playfulness