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Doing Colour

I love colour and can’t live without it. I love being surrounded by it in the home and I’m not meaning a dilute pastel – I do like intense colour particularly glazes.


Having moved to a white cube apartment I was feeling a lack of character and personal input.

I know there are a number of you that love a white environment and the illusion of space it creates but believe me, there are many ways to create the illusion of space with the use of colour.

So I’m going to give you a few tips on how to create the feeling of space without compromising on colour.

  • Don’t use heavy tertiary colours. They absorb light and are more suited to a warehouse type environment with high ceilings or a space where you want to create the illusion of a contracted space such as a bedroom however not all of us want that type of feeling in a bedroom – think of the type of space you want to wake up to, dark or full of light and bright in preparedness for the day? Most of all do not paint all 4 walls in a dark tertiary colour. Also remember tertiary colours do not have to be deep in hue, they can be lighter so choose the intensity of the colour carefully
  • Take careful account of what you are placing on the walls. People are of the opinion that walls must be white if you are hanging art – not so. The Art Gallery of NSW has subscribed to coloured walls in many of its exhibitions using bright reds and soft olives to great effect. Some works of art are beautifully enhanced by colour. If you have heavy timber frames or woodwork that will be displayed choose a colour that will contrast and enhance its look. I’ve found fresh greens work very well as do shades of blue. You can pick colours featured in the works being careful not to match them with the prevailing colour, as this will otherwise overwhelm the artwork
  • Study the light patterns of the space over a period of time before you make your final decision on colour. Observe how the light travels through a room at various times of the day. What may appear a very bright room in the morning may be quite dim come afternoon and visa versa. This can have quite a dramatic effect on the colour you choose
  • Imagine your chosen colour at night – what will it look like? Study the lighting in the room and the furnishings
  • Do you want a feature wall or a surround colour?

You haven’t finished, you have few more steps ahead of you,

  • Walk through your space assessing the colours you have planned and imagine them together. Hmm….what do you think? Do they work together or are they clashing. I recently decided I didn’t like to see the bright red walls up against the purple in the study so I decided to allow for a white entrance to the space just giving enough separation between the colours to give the purple a fresher introduction. I also decided only to paint two walls in the purple allowing for a restful entry to the purple by leaving the opposite wall white which will aid the reflection of light.
  • Decide on finishes. Do you want flat, low sheen, gloss, or even a stone finish? I have painted the hallway in a red gloss acrylic that looks lush and vibrant and the surface is highly reflective. In fact the paint itself is transparent hence acts like a glaze. For the bedroom that has hard-edged windows and plasterboard walls that look rather light in structure I have decided on a stone finish paint to soften the edges and give an uneven surface much like an adobe hut. I can’t imagine anything cosier. This will contrast with my iron bed and metal side table that tends to look a little clinical

I hope this will encourage you to use colour in the home. I know my experience when I moved into the white cube was a little cold and I felt I needed to do that little extra something to make the space my own. I had also just moved from a Victorian terrace house to a modern apartment. Apart from surrounding myself with my familiar things, colour was the anchor that solidified my relationship with my new home.

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