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RUNNING SCARED and sticking to some tried and true
colour combination, or mimicking your neighbour's
choices? Not sure where to begin? Colour is arguably
the single element that can make the hugest impact on
your décor. Colour can take your space from a yawn to
Artwork is a good place to begin. Look at your inspira-
tion masterpiece critically. What colours do you see?
Copy the colour palette in your décor. Other large items
can also be sources of inspiration. Also examine your
rug, window treatments, sofa, artwork or bed linen. Use
one for your décor cues. What about your favourite out-
fits? For most of us these clothes are often in colours
that we look best in. We are comfortable in combining
colours in our wardrobe and we have no problems wear-
ing colour. Be inspired by the colour and colour combi-
nations you find in your closets.
Ease into colour
Afraid of going overboard and not being able to live with
the visual stimulation? Do on-trend colours like cobalt
blue terrify you? Why not take baby steps? Take a look
at the fan deck of your favourite paint manufacturer.
Identify colours that you are drawn to that you may find
are too bold. Look for less intense versions of the colour
tinted down to have just a little more colour than a
tinted white. For instance, Benjamin Moore's main
colour of the year is a crisp, but pale blue --- Breathe of
Fresh Air BM 806. Definitely colour, but it can almost
read as a neutral. You may feel comfortable using the
neutral version of your colour on your walls and other
large surfaces. Also explore monochromatic colour
schemes. Choose your colour and use different versions
of it around the room. For a tranquil space, avoid strong
contrast by keeping colour values closer together.
You have the option to keep the pale backdrop. But con-
sider adding punches of colour. Just like in an art gallery,
the neutralised backdrop is perfect for whatever punch
of colour you may venture to use. Consider injecting
colour with the less expensive décor accessories. Re-
member, once you venture, you should repeat the colour
a couple times for the colour(s) to be at home in the
Add colour to your walls and go neutral on your furnish-
ings, window treatments, rugs and other large furnish-
ings in the room. Let the walls do the talking. You may
say that this is the most ridiculous advice for someone
afraid of colour. Think about it: paint is easy and cheap
enough to change. And your space will look decorated,
imaginative and trendy.
Top to Bottom, Left to Right
Use darker colours at and closer to the floor. Colours
should get lighter as you progress toward the ceiling.
The main colours in your space should be repeated at
least three times. However, do so according to the pro-
portional colour content. For visual interest and good bal-
ance, use at least three colours in a space. But do not use
them in the same proportion. Be guided by the tried and true
60-30-10 ratio: Use your dominant colour 60% of your
room's surface, for instance, on your walls. Use your second-
ary colour on 30% of your surfaces. Your upholstery will nor-
mally fit this bill. Your accessories can carry your accent
colour at the proportion of 10%.
Putting it all together
Expand the perceived space in your home by creating a
colour flow as you move from room to room. Each room
should have a connection with adjacent rooms by using at
least one colour from the adjoining space. Every colour has
a warm and cool version. Think lipstick red versus brick red.
The undertones of a colour can take it from bold and bright
to quiet and warm. Mix compatible undertones for the most
cohesive look and feel. Whichever colour you select, consider
going just a little darker for a more professional and "deco-
rator" look. Then anchor your scheme, by using something
black or a very dark value or shade of one of your colours.
This helps to solidify and clarify the other colours. It could
be a black pillow, a seat cushion, a box on a shelf, a vase or a
small table. Remember that any coordinating neutral can be
used with the colour combinations that you select.
Large colour-blocked bed
Medium blue dining room with cornice
Colourful Sitting Room by designer Tobi Fairley
By Ann Moore-Spencer
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