7 crazy industry myths about colours that you need to know about!
Hey peeps, I have an interesting subject for you to indulge in today! I was thinking of you guys today, and how hard it may sometimes seem to find dependable information on the net about different subjects in interior design. For example, you find “5 colours rules” that you absolutely have to follow, only to see them being debunked the next month or year. Let's say you want to uplift your living room or bedroom. Perhaps you just wish to change the colour of the walls, as you don't have a big budget to invest in this process at the moment. What is right and what is wrong? What to do and not to do even if pigs start to fly ? Not to worry, I've got you covered. I have put together a list of the most common 7 colour myths in interior design, and we are going to talk them through, for your own peace of mind.
Myth no.1 - White & soft neutral tones are an ideal backdrop to make a work of art or tapestry stand out.
Agree to disagree! From my experience working on sites, the best designs I saw, were the ones where the art was placed against a dark coloured backdrop. By doing so, the art you want to display, stands out even more because of the contrast between the two. Having it against a white or soft colour background will be alright, as long as you do not want it as a center piece.
What is a centre piece? As you will learn later on in this article, it is an object that catches your attention almost instantly.
To be fair, it also depends on the art & what colours it has in its composition. For example, a hand sketched art (made on a plain white paper), framed and displayed on a white backdrop, will not be at it's full potential. Both backdrops are too similar, and they blend into each other. If you want to have a coloured backdrop, then choosing a black & white art, would be my go to choice. This way, you can read both the wall colour and the art at the same time. That is not to say that displaying art on a white backdrop is not a good choice either.
It is also deeply connected with your personal CCL (if you are new and don't know what I am talking about, just click on the CCL). If you enjoy art against a soft backdrop, and not having it as a centre piece, then this might be the perfect way to display it. It all comes down to personal choice, like everything else (and like this post). Just trust you instincts when you choose. I am here to let you know that white it is not the only option!
Myth no. 2 - White & Neutral tones should be applied when a space is overloaded architecturally and you want them to fade into the background.
Another myth that works both ways! Personally, I have seen beautiful examples of architectural details covered up with dark coloured paint. I strongly believe that if you do not want the details to be the first thing you see in a space, then you should consider opting for any colour (even dark neutrals) rather than sticking to white. Although white may help the room seems more spacious, it can also highlight any problems that otherwise would not be visible from the get go (I am talking here about spider webs, damp, cracks or even paint problems - difference in shade, tone or tint). That is, if you want them covered in the first place.
Also, I find that by having the architectural details covered in a darker colour, they are more subtle. So when you do actually see them, it's like you've just discovered some secret treasures that only you know about. Good job spotting them out!!
Myth no. 3 - Blue is soothing.
While this is true, I can think of several shades of blue that would keep you on the tip of your toes, rather than calming you down. Let's say.... electric blue? It strongly depends on the type of shade that you choose. In colour psychology blue is cool, relaxing, calming and contemplative. No wonder why it is world's most popular colour (according to various international studies), followed closely by purple, red and green. White, yellow and orange being at the opposite end as world's least favourite colours. Having said that, blue can be used successfully integrated in any design scheme, and can go very well in any room really. But again, this myth goes both ways.
Speaking of blue, here is a little fun fact that I discovered recently. Apparently, back in the day, baby girls would wear blue clothes, whilst baby boys were supposed to wear pink! Crazy weird right? If you want to learn more about this, here is the source!
Myth no. 4 - Dark wall colours make the room feel smaller.
Not necessarily! If a room gets plenty of natural light, having a bit of colour to create a contrast with, can help make the room seem full of life. And when that happens, the size doesn't really matter. Also, adding mirrored surfaces on which the natural light can reflect from, is a great tool to make a room seem bigger & brighter. So why not add a bit of colour to your life? Imagine the amazing contrast that any colour will create against a darker toned background! Unless you love white, in which case by all means, go for it. There are some great Nordic designs out there that go full on white.
If you are still worried that having the walls a darker colour, might cause a 'cave look', then you can balance them out with lighter coloured furniture, or light flooring materials, or just by choosing soft coloured fabrics for the upholstery and curtains. You just have to figure out what colours you wish to see in your space (because you will be living there 24/7)! There are no rights and wrongs here, just know that this can also be a great option!
Great example here of a lovely apartment in Paris via Turbulences-deco. Decor done dy Sarah Schultz and Michael Timsit. Image no 6 & 7.
Myth no. 5 - Every room must be painted the same colour to feel as part of the same design scheme.
While this makes sense, it is also a rule that can be broken. Let me explain why. When you create a design scheme for any project, you want it to have a continuity or to feel as part of the same concept (not be out of context). What I mean by this is that you do not want to end up with, let's say, 4 green rooms and one red room, for example. Why is that room red? Why is just that room red? What was he reason for it? It has to be a reason for doing so. That is one of the golden rules in interior design (same in architecture) - a reason, concept, idea has to be at the beginning of any project in order to be successful. This is why there are some very strong advocates of the'same colour, all walls' type of rule (well more of guideline, but some treat it as a rule)!
Let's take the image below as an example (the entry hallway from the Victoria&Albert Hall Museum). Every room is painted in white, or the material that is used (marble and stone) are similar in tone, so that the general feeling is of a white colour all around. Naturally, anything placed against it will create a lovely contrasts. Also, you can play around with the colour of artificial light (maybe will write a post about this another time).
If you are the type of person who chooses 'one colour to rule them all', there is nothing wrong with that. This rule can, indeed, create a beautiful design. But at the same time, it can make the space seem a little bit predictable. So why no try the same colour, but different shades? This way, you can stick to the colour that you love and also create a certain movement or flow to your interior.
Or, you can choose to have different colours that work very well together, thus creating the sense of continuity in your 'story' scheme.
Myth no. 6 - Small rooms must be white or a pale neutral colour.
While this is partially true, the size of the room is directly linked to the scale of the furniture and how it is placed inside the room. Why is this partially true? Because, if the room is small, a lighter colour on the walls can help reflect the amount of natural light that comes in through the windows (of course, a huge help here would be to have good sized windows).
Here is a beautiful example of how this myth could work in a different colour (click on the text). Workspace in a London house, designed by Tod Hunter Earle Interiors - Love this by the way! Another good example is this bathroom prop that Astro lighting company did for The May Design Series in 2015, in order to display different types of lights. I think it is a lovely example that you should not be afraid to experiment. You never know how it might work out.
While white paint can indeed help a room seem bigger, a dark coloured paint can do the same, just maybe not in the way you'd expect. Darker colours may blur the rough edges of the room (think corners), because it reflects less natural light than white or pale colours. This way, an illusion of more space is achieved. Again, not the most obvious way, but still one that counts.
If you want to go for a lighter colour, you can cheat by creating the feeling of bigger space with the help of mirrors. Also, keep in mind that a small room has the potential to become an intimate, secret space, or a retreat - where you go to escape from the rest of the world. A good designer can transform any space, not matter the size of the room!
Myth no. 7 - Stick to one focal point.
Why??? We are human beings, we see 3d, and we are curious. We love discovering things, reading stories. It would be such a shame to waste the full potential of a room. Just think of all those spots that you love inside your favourite room. Each corner would say a beautiful story, if it had the chance. So why should it be neglected?
By definition, a focal point is the first thing that attracts your eye, when you enter a space. Now...to be fair, if all the focal points would be strong (as in something very colourful, with a busy pattern or with sharp edges), it would be too much for the eyes. Why? Because they would be too busy looking at everything, so naturally, you would grow tired really fast. Busy rooms tend to do that to you (same principles applies to clutter as well). So, in a way, I get the purpose of this rule. But.....as the saying goes...'everything in moderation', right?
Let's study the image below. What is the first thing you see? One thing could be the painting! What is interesting here, is that ok, the painting is what stands out the most because of its colours. If that was the end of it, you would be like 'yeah, ok, cool', and then move on. But by having multiple focal points, your eye jumps from object to object. You start seeing the cotton flowes & the wallpaper roll. Then you start to notice the smaller bits, like the candles,the sunglasses or the marbled candle holder. But, like I said earlier, you should be careful not to have too many things, because it can create a sense of clutter.
It is all connected to what is known in the design world as '1st, 2nd and 3rd glance' design rule:
- First glance is what you see when you first walk into a space - you either love it, or hate it ( CCL remember? );
- Second glance is where you start observing things you did not see previously - like the cotton flowers, the paper rolls, the candles, etc;
- Third and last glance is about discovering the design, observing the smaller details, how everything is connected. Let's take the painting, for example. You start to notice that it's made out of smaller pieces of paper. Then you realise that each one of them is painted with a different brush stroke pattern ( what is a pattern - discover here ). Then, you realise that they could very well stand out on their own, but the idea behind the painting is based on how well they work together as a whole. See? Everything is connected! Everything has a reason!
So there you have it details lovers - 7 colour myths that have sneaked up in the design world, and refuse to leave the industry - crazy!! I am not saying that these 'rules' do not work, of course they do. But they are the safer path. You have but one life, if you love colours and want to be surrounded by them - run at them with arms wide open; it is you space after all. If you want to have a 'Scandinavian look' or 'Bohemian look', then that is what you are going to go out and get for yourself (or employ someone to go and get it for you - I am not one to judge)!!! I just want you to know that you shouldn't take no for an answer. You now know that it can be done, and extremely beautiful I might add!
Have you heard of any other myths that might sound ridiculous? Ever wondered why not to use a colour in a certain way or place? You heard somewhere that you cannot use green in the corners because it attracts damp or something completely bonkers like that? If so, then let me know! We should kick-start a list of other crazy myths that are running around, pin them down and debunk them. What do you say?
All images that are credited as '©Detail Movement', are done by Raluca Vaduva for Detail Movement. All rights reserved. All pictures that are not my own, I credit them to the best of my knowledge & research, to their online sources. I do not claim ownership over them in any way.