Picking the right combination of colors can make all the difference in a room.
Just as with exterior painting, picking the right color scheme for interior spaces requires a certain amount of imagination and creativity. Simply thinking about what color would look best on a wall isn’t enough to ensure a positive paint job. Virtually any color will look good on a surface as long as it is applied correctly, but choosing the right color involves looking at an interior space with a very critical eye.
The floor and ceiling surfaces cannot be ignored, as they are crucial elements of color combination. Most ceilings are traditionally painted white for a number of reasons – particularly for their ability to keep rooms looking bright and to avoid taking attention away from the walls. Lighter ceiling colors can also help to make a room appear larger and more open.
Deviating from white ceilings is a great way to change the overall appearance of a house, but since darkening a ceiling can steal some of the light and visually shorten the height of the room. Ceiling colors should offset and complement the walls and the floor instead of calling attention above.
The easiest way to choose a color scheme is to look through color catalogues or at paint samples. Most hardware stores and paint depots keep catalogs handy for customers to take home. Painters should take their time looking at the spaces in these catalogs and comparing colors to their existing floors, carpets, curtains, blinds, furniture and decorations. It’s important to look at fabric and upholstery first and then look at the upholstery and see if they coordinate. Consider the prominent color in this coordination for the walls.
Of course, if you're preparing your house for sale, realtors recommend against bold colors. But if this is just for your own preference, do what pleases you.
Each color has certain properties and psychological effects that can influence the mood of the interior occupants. Some of the most popular colors used for interior painting include:
Black and gray
While black is usually associated with somberness and malignity, it can also represent sophistication, reverence and physical attraction. Interior designers have traditionally shunned black paint, but it is now increasingly used for trim and accents that are meant to be dramatic and striking. Black is the perfect match and contrast for white, and the amount used can range from trim areas to an accent wall. With the right furniture and décor, black is ideal for living rooms, bedrooms and ultra-modern kitchens.
Gray is a timeless color, but it could also be considered drab if not accessorized with bold colors. Anyone who has grown tired of looking at white paint on walls for years should consider gray tones. Gray paint is cooler than its white counterpart and more versatile, as it manages to blend well with most decorations. It is an ideal color for all interior spaces and provides the perfect backdrop for color bursts.
Brown denotes a personality that is earthy, realistic and trustworthy. This classic earth tone can be applied to living and work areas alike, as it evokes a feeling of being well-rounded and connected with nature. Terracotta and dark mustard brown combinations are perfect for Latin American and Santa Fe-style décor. Brown hues are great for interior spaces that get a lot of sunlight. Lighter shades of brown, such as beige and taupe, are neutral colors that particularly work well in homes that are being shown to potential buyers.
The psychological effect of green is largely dependent on the tone or hue. Besides the positive connection with all things natural and benevolent, a pale olive green can seem militaristic or ill.
Multiple shades of green can serve different purposes and set different moods. Maritime greens are ideal for studios and offices as they inspire concentration, while cool forest greens can be used in bedrooms and bathrooms.
Red and pink
Unlike pink, red is the color of passion and can create drama in any space. In the past, interior designers mostly chose red as an accent color, but it is now increasingly used in stylish living rooms and bedrooms. Flat red is modern and inviting, cherry red is youthful and darker red conjures up feelings of warmth and loyalty.
Pink is also a soft romantic color, but it can also denote innocence. This is the traditional color for baby girls, but it's also used in women’s spaces, such as in makeup rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms. Hot pink must be used with care in spaces that get a lot of sunlight, as it can make the room feel dark.
Yellow is generally a happy color that increases confidence. Similar to gray, yellow can be very versatile. Pale yellows used in sunlit rooms with flowery decorations are very inviting, especially in the morning time. Darker yellows can add warmth to a room even in the winter time. Bright yellows help reduce the amount of illumination needed in a space and are ideal for any room in the house.
Emotionally speaking, orange is a very stimulating and happy color. Pastel oranges are irresistible and great for interior spaces where skin is more likely to be exposed, such as bedrooms and bathrooms. Bright orange is the antithesis of gray and can be lively, while darker and burnt orange tones have a similar effect as the brown hues and go along great with southwestern décor.
Blue is the color of calmness, productivity and masculine sophistication. Baby blue will always be a popular color choice for young boys, while different hues of cyan can be used to great effects in children's bathrooms to create an underwater mood with the right decoration. When applied to a ceiling, a light blue can conjure images of a cloudless sky and increase the sense of space. Pale and medium blues can be painted around the house to achieve a cooling effect.
Shopping for the right paint should go beyond collecting paint chips or choosing a shade from the catalogue. Purchasing inexpensive paint samples and small brushes to bring home for testing is the best, as it's the only way to really ascertain whether a color suits the décor. The goal is to paint a small section of the wall –a square with an area of just a few inches is sufficient. Allowing the small painted patch to dry and observing how it looks under the lighting conditions at different times of the day should clear up any painter’s color dilemma.