Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Color Theory and Design Part II

Welcome back! In part I of our series on color theory, we touched on the difference between primary, secondary, tertiary and complimentary colors on the color wheel, as well as blending/mixing colors, parent colors and simultaneous contrast.

This time we will expound a little more on each of these subtopics.

Now that you’re familiar with the color wheel, let’s look at the concept of warm vs. cool colors.

Looking at the color wheel, we see that the circle is divided into two families of color that make strongly different impressions. On the left side, red, orange and yellow are referred to as warm colors and green, blue and violet are cool.

Are you beginning to mentally associate between the colors themselves and the temperature sensations of hot and cold? Good. What you’ll notice while standing in a room of warm colors is that they actually seem to raise the apparent room temperature, making spaces feel cozy and pleasant indoors in winter, while cool colors provide relief on a hot day or in a warm climate. A complimentary pair is always made up of one warm and one cool color. Therefore, before deciding on a color, take into account the size of the room, the amount of light or where it is directed.

The Effects Of Color

When the primary colors - red, yellow and blue are used together, they create a very vibrant effect, resulting in striking contrasts. Together they are very successful in small space interior design because they revitalize and rejoice.

The cool colors - blue, green or violet produce a sense of calm and quiet, and like white, creates a distancing effect, making them also ideal for smaller, narrower rooms. However, be careful not to use them alone as they can be cold and impersonal as well.

Warm tones - the range from yellow to red, are vital and happy, and give the impression of “near” space, and therefore work best in large environments.

Now that you understand how groups of colors work together to create certain effects, let’s look at a phenomenon in color theory that is very important to be aware of so as not to create blurred vision or as we jokingly mentioned in part I – cardiac arrest.

Simultaneous contrast refers to how two colors, side by side, interact with one another and change our perception accordingly. Since we rarely see colors in isolation, simultaneous contrast affects our perception of the color that we see.

For example, red and blue boxes are modified where they border each other: the blue appears green and the red, orange. The real colors are not altered; only our perception of them changes.

Since our sensation is most intense where two extremes are juxtaposed, we should be careful when using simultaneous contrast in interior design.

Artists like Van Gogh purposely used simultaneous contrast in their paintings to create a jarring unpleasant sensation for the viewer. If this is not your goal (and we hope it’s NOT your goal in your interior design!), we encourage you to be aware of color mixing that causes simultaneous contrast.

If your goal is to create intense emotion in small doses then it may help to know that simultaneous contrast is most intense when the two colors are complementary colors. Mummy cases of ancient Egypt inlaid with gold and blue lapis are a good example of this, and traditional holiday colors of green and red are too.

Whatever your interior design goals are for your space, at J Douglas Designs, we have the expertise to guide you through color theory to help you select the best furniture and home accessories for your interior spaces.

1 comment:

  1. Love how you make color theory so simple. Well done!!