Color is the true catalyst for inspiring design

Colors from nature have always been an inspiration with its many faces, and it can enliven any interior, any time any place. Color is more than hue, brightness and saturation; it’s also ambient lighting, texture, size, shape, etc.

Interior designers are creating some of the most intriguing and powerful interiors with a wide spectrum of colors. They manipulate the colors like a musical scale creating harmony, sophistication and enhancing archi- tecture.

Color brings out positive vibes in people — it soothes and heals. It brings out human reflexive responses, general physiological responses, and social and cultural responses. People are happier and healthier in their favorite colors.

It’s been observed that nature conditions man to feel most comfortable with a dark-value color beneath his feet, a medium-value surrounding him and a light-value above. This is exemplified in the dark tones of earth, green foliage and a light sky. In color, it is interesting to note that man has color vision. Most animals see the world in shades of gray, except birds, lizards, turtles and some fish. Man has the most prevalence of color blindness; the inability to distinguish red and green. Therefore, many have a hard time with color, just as infants do not respond to color — only black and white.

So, what is color? Color is lightness and saturation. It is a theory based on the principle that color is light, and therefore, light and color work together. You need the right light for color and, colors need the right light. When a beam of white light is diffused by means of a crystal prism, a spectrum of the entire range of pure colors is visible to the eye.

Color surrounds us everywhere and is an important part of our lives. Everything in the world has color. It brings beauty to our clothing, food and environment. Since color is one of the most important and powerful elements in interior design, it should be one of your first considerations in your starting point.

Where do you start to pick your colors? The flooring? The walls? The fabrics? And how many colors?

Color is a very complex element and there’s so much to know, even when selecting a single color for a room. Planning an intelligent color scheme is much more complicated of a task than just looking at pictures and color chips.

What’s the first thing you notice about a room? The color, which generally determines the mood of that room.

Most people know what colors they like, but are unable to put colors together because colors tend to play tricks with our eyes and seem to change when played one against the other.

Color is never out of style, so don’t be afraid to explore with colors. For- get about the savvy concept of “fad.” Choose colors and patterns that are timeless, not trendy. Let your colors be daring and romantic.

Color adds excitement to shapes, textures and materials. Color creates an environment and helps us stratify culture. When we see color in a finished room, we see it both vertically and horizontally, it comes at us from all angles.

Remember that colors are different in sunlight, incandescent lighting and fluorescent lighting. Be sure to view colors during the day and at night time.

Also, colors tend to change tones. Beige may turn pinkish, tan goes lighter and darker, and whites go from stark white to blue, gray, etc.

Color is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways. Picking colors improperly can bring about discord and imbalance, whereas properly picked colors bring harmony and equilibrium. Choose few colors, rather than many. The ideal house has areas of both light and dark colors.

Light, whether daylight or artificial, is the determining factor for “true color.” Since light modifies colors we should be sure that the color we select, whether in paint colors, fabrics or flooring, it’s seen in the light where it will live. Color will often seem to shade from one wall to another, or even one part of the wall to another part, because the light hits the surfaces differently. Color allows you to communicate your individuality and create the environment that says, “You!” It puts you into your personalized comforting zone.

In picking colors, there are many choices: bright colors, mellow colors, neutral colors and dramatic colors. White is a good neutral color to accent around, with jewel tones or bold tones. Reds and blues, in accessories, are great accent colors for kitchens.

Use light colors to make a small room appear bigger, use darker colors to make a big room more cozy and intimate. And yet, dark colors used in small rooms can also create a dramatic effect.

For a vibrant color scheme — al- though it is not for everyone — venture toward the jewel tones of red-orange, blue-purple, yellow-gold and blue-and-green teals.

In creating your environment that is comfortable for all members of the family with your color palette, remember color and light must have balances and harmony. You must have a design that’s good and lasting.

Ken Dean is an award-winning professional interior designer, interior design teacher and writer for 40 years. His website is www.deaninteriordesign. com. He can be reached at (661) 251- 0170.

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