How to use Colour

Although there are a myriad of decorating styles and techniques, when it comes to colour choice and Interior design, there are no hard and fast rules, it’s about what you feel comfortable with, and your vision for your home. Below are a few useful interior design tips and techniques for you to consider when decorating:

Whether with paint or wallpaper, there are three popular ways of decorating:

COLOURED WALLS AND WHITE WOODWORK

A traditional style is to apply one colour to the walls and a white gloss on the woodwork.

Visually this is a very clean look, but it can sometimes appear harsh depending on the contrast between colours. To soften the contrast choose an empathetic companion colour for the ceiling. This will make the contrast more gradual, and as a result the room will look surprisingly spacious.

For suggested complementary neutrals simply click on colours and finishes then select your chosen paint colour.

Living Room with walls in Pavillion Gray and woodwork in All White
Living Room in Pavillion Gray No.242 & All White No.2005 | Estate Emulsion & Estate Eggshell



LIGHT WALLS AND DARKER WOODWORK

A marvellous way to create light and space is to use the lightest colour on the largest surface area, such as the walls, and a darker tone on woodwork.

This works well if you are using a neutral scheme, and gives a more ‘decorated’ feel.

The use of a dark colour on skirting boards, not only makes the walls appear lighter in contrast, but it also creates a strong contemporary aesthetic, making everything above feel elongated and lighter in contrast.

Dining room with walls and ceiling in All White, trim in Pointing and cupboards in Teresa's Green
Bedroom with walls in Silvergate BP 878 and trim in Plummet
Dining room with walls and ceiling in All White No.2005 Estate Emulsion, trim in Pointing No.2003 and cupboards in Teresa's Green No.236 Estate Eggshell
Bedroom with walls in Silvergate BP 878 & trim in Plummet No.272 Estate Eggshell



ONE COLOUR USED ON WALLS AND WOODWORK

There is great historic precedent for using one colour on both walls and woodwork and it is also popular in contemporary settings as it creates a strong, clean look.

Whether with paint or wallpaper, there are three popular ways of decorating:

It generates a sense of calm in a room, as well as exaggerating its size, as there are no contrasts to draw the eye.

All White Study
Living room with walls in French Gray, trim in London Stone and ceiling in Blackened
Study with walls, floor and trim in All White No.2005 Estate Emulsion, Estate Eggshell and Floor Paint
Living room with walls in French Gray No.18 Estate Eggshell, trim in London Stone No.6 Estate Emulsion and ceiling in Blackened No.2011 Estate Emulsion



CHOOSING COMPLEMENTARY WHITES

When it comes to choosing white it’s really important to choose a white that complements the other colours in the scheme to prevent them from jarring. Each of our whites have different undertones making them more suited to different colours.

Whites like Great White and Dimity, for example, have red undertones so pair beautifully with pinks and reds like Calamine and Rectory Red. Cabbage White has fresh blue undertones so it’s the perfect white to use with our blues. James White is the ideal partner to our greens as it has soft green undertones that will create a cohesive look. While Pointing, with its soft creamy undertones works beautifully with yellows like House White and Dayroom Yellow.

These unique undertones also mean you can use our whites as colours in their own right when paired with All White which contains no pigment except white. Blackened will read as a cool grey when paired with All White, and similarly the pink tones of Great White are emphasised.

You can find suggested complementary whites and colour schemes for every colour on this website - simply click on colours and finishes then selecting your chosen paint colour.

Dining room with walls in Skylight, trim in Strong White and ceiling in All White
Bedroom in Green Blue No.84 & All White No.2005 | Estate Emulsion



HOW TO CREATE THE ILLUSION OF MORE SPACE

Costly extensions and architects aside, colour can be used to alter the shape of a room. When planning your colour scheme remember that a darker wall colour will bring it towards you, whereas a lighter colour creates the illusion it’s further away.

You can also prevent narrow hallways from appearing ‘tunnel like’ by painting the end wall a darker shade than the side walls. The same principle works within a rectangular room that you’d like to make appear squarer.

All White Study
Living room with walls in French Gray, trim in London Stone and ceiling in Blackened
Hall with walls in Strong White No.2001 Estate Emulsion and woodwork in Down Pipe No.26 Estate Eggshell
Hall with walls in Cinder Rose No.246 Estate Emulsion & Dimity No.2008 Modern Emulsion



CREATING MORE CEILING HEIGHT

We are often asked how to make ceilings appear taller, and the technique behind this is to reduce the amount of contrast between the colour on the walls, cornicing or coving and ceiling.

Using the same colour on the woodwork, walls and on the cornice or coving will make the walls appear taller. It also helps to use a white on the ceiling that is sympathetic with the wall colour so that you’re less aware of where the walls end, and the ceiling begins. Try pairing Ammonite walls with a ceiling in Wevet for example.

Or you can gently graduate colour, by using progressively lighter tones from walls, to cornicing or coving and then a lighter shade again on the ceiling – this creates a soft lofty feel and feels as if the walls are gently graduating into the ceiling.

Finally, a very easy technique is to simply use the same colour on the walls and any cornicing or coving and up and onto the ceiling.

Hall with walls in Dix Blue and Brekfast Room Green
Hall with walls in Dix Blue No.82 Estate Emulsion and Breakfast Room Green No.81 Estate Emulsion
Bedroom with walls and ceiling in Hague Blue and bookshelf in Black Blue
Bedroom with walls and ceiling in Hague Blue No.30 and bookshelf in Black Blue No.95 Estate Eggshell



CREATING FLOW THROUGH YOUR HOME

We recommend choosing colours that all have the same tonal weight. It’s best to decorate floor by floor: considering the sightlines between rooms - there’s no need for military precision, but it is worth envisioning how colours will complement the adjacent rooms.

It can be rather effective to reverse wall and woodwork colours room by room, switching the colour of the walls in the main area to the woodwork colour of the other rooms. This creates a feeling of continuity throughout, and varies drama, as some rooms will be lighter than others, but still feel connected.

Living Room with walls in Blackened and woodwork in Down Pipe
Living room with walls in Blackened No.2011 Estate Emulsion and trim in Down Pipe No.26 Estate Eggshell
Hall with walls in Oval Room Blue
Hall with walls in Oval Room Blue No.85, Cornforth White No.228 and Brinjal No.222 Estate Emulsion with woodwork in Wimborne White No.239 Estate Eggshell



MAKING ROOMS FEEL LIGHTER

By using darker colours in a hallway, you can instantly make the other rooms off the hallway seem ardently brighter, and bigger. Meander into a lighter room from a dark space, and it’s bound to feel cavernous.

Hall in Elephant's Breath Modern Emulsion with woodwork in Railings Dead Flat and ceiling in Pointing Estate Emulsion.
Hall in Elephant's Breath No.229 Modern Emulsion with woodwork in Railings No.31 Dead Flat and ceiling in Pointing No.2003 Estate Emulsion
A hall with walls in Down Pipe and Slipper Satin Modern Emulsion, woodwork in Down Pipe Estate Eggshell and floors in Slipper Satin Floor Paint.
Hall with walls in Down Pipe No.26 Estate Emulsion and floor in Slipper Satin No.95 Floor Paint



MAKING THE BEST OF A ROOM WITH LITTLE NATURAL LIGHT

Most of us have a small room that does not exactly benefit from natural light, and we all share an urge to paint it eye-wateringly white to force it to feel brighter.

But rather than unwittingly creating a doctor’s waiting room in your downstairs bathroom; instead use warm, darker colours or even bold patterned wallpapers to create a dramatic, yet intimate atmosphere.

Bathroom in Brinjal Modern Emulsion.
Bathroom in Brinjal No.222 Modern Emulsion
Bathroom in Hague Blue.
Bathroom in Hague Blue No.30 Modern Emulsion



You May Like To Read

- How Light Affects Colour
- Different Styles of Decorating
- How to Consider Architectural Features in Your Decor