How to add colour to your home

Last updated 05:00 22/05/2014

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A former US president once noted: 'beauty - like supreme dominion - is but supported by opinion'. But while he may have been referring to the human form, his observation is just as apt when applied to the human castle.

Experts agree choosing colours to individualise your living space is never easy but say the right selection will add not only vibrancy and personality but help turn a house into a home.


Colour Options designer Heather Thorley, whose Wellington-based firm specialises in colour consultation, says there are a number of options to consider when selecting a palette for your house.

The first is to recognise the style of your home both inside and out as some homes have small windows that allow limited light into the house, affecting the internal colour choices. 

"Others have large amounts of light and space, and the walls can take a darker more dramatic colour without closing down the room."

Ms Thorley says when painting the exterior of your home, it pays to go a shade darker than the hue you want as colours appear lighter on exterior surfaces.

The new energy saver light bulbs are the "worst offenders", she adds, so it is best to check your sample colour during the day and at night before applying.


If you find a picture that is the colour or look you want, never paint what the article says the colour is, rather get it colour-matched as the variation in colour in print or on screens can be dramatic.

Interior Designer Alex Fulton, who owns a dual design concept store and interior design hub and is also an ambassador for Dulux, suggests making up a folder - either hard copy or digitally - to offer visual clues.


Both consultants say that even if only choosing colours for one room at a time, it pays to have a palette that can be mixed and matched around the entire house.

"Different rooms have very different functions and are usually based in different orientations in the home. Give yourself some options by choosing a lighter and darker shade of the colours you like. Play around with colour combinations and see what tickles your fancy," Ms Fulton says.


Ms Thorley says it can be tempting to play it safe and go for the neutral of the moment, but those homes that use colour either on the walls or with accessories create a sense of the individual, sell more quickly and are more uplifting to live in. 

She suggests wallpaper is a great way to introduce not only colour but also texture to walls as either a statement or to hide a boring space.

People tend to fall over when they start to design for the next perspective buyer or try and imitate someone else's look, says Ms Fulton.  

"By having a source of inspiration you will find a common thread of colour start to come through and that should be your starting point. If that's too scary then start with white or neutral walls and start adding colour through accessories, fabrics and furniture."

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Ms Fulton says misconceptions surrounding the use of colour - such as blue and green should not be seen and dark colours should not go in a dark room - should be ignored.

Instead choose colours that make you feel good.  

"Colours are incredibly mood enhancing or impairing so listening to how a hue or combinations of hues makes you feel is crucial to making a decision.

"Resale and practicality are common barriers that can stop people trying new combinations and palettes but I say forget that and design your house so that it becomes... a place that reflects your personality, your family, how you live and what you are all about."

- Stuff


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