Paint has a life of its own.
Jul 27, 2022 9:00am
Paint sets the atmosphere of an interior with colour and makes surfaces look more appealing. But it also has another role – it can impact the sense of space within a room.
Take a small room that you want to make feel larger, for instance. Pale colours are your friend in this circumstance, their reflective nature making the most of how natural light bounces off these shades. Consequently, the room feels more open and spacious.
“The effect of one single shade of white on the walls, trims and ceilings tricks the eye into thinking the space is much larger than it is,” says Resene colour consultant Brooke Calvert, who suggests turning to one pale hue for your optimum shade. “Opt for a light neutral colour throughout your space.”
Other ways to manipulate your space are by being playful with your paint, using techniques such as applying geometric shapes or stripes.
“Horizontal stripes are an effective way to stretch out the room – find a rug or carpet,” Brooke says. “A feature wall with horizontal or vertical lines can make it seem wider or taller too.”
If renovating or creating a new build, there are ways to embrace the natural light alongside your light paint shade. “Try and introduce as much natural light as possible with large doors and windows,” Brooke says. “Skylights are also helpful in small spaces. Style with a large mirror, placing it opposite a window for maximum impact. The light will bounce around the room to extend the space.”
Avoid heavy, chunky furniture too as this will have a visual impact on your space: “Try a sofa with legs and glass tables instead,” Brooke says, adding that it’s worth bringing in floaty fabrics that resemble your wall colour to enhance the sense of airiness.
Conversely, if you have a large room that you want to feel cosier, turn to stronger, richer colours. “Dark shades tend to absorb light, making a space feel smaller,” Brooke says. “Rich, warm colours can also make the walls feel as though they are closing in, making them an effective choice when wanting to decrease the sense of space.”
Perhaps you only have one large room and the rest of your rooms are small – you can provide colour continuity through your home if this is the case. “If you want to keep the bold and dramatic colour to just one room, like a media room, vary the shades of the same colour in the remaining rooms,” Brooke says. The Resene Whites and Neutrals Collection has up to six strength variations of the most popular Resene colours so you can easily bring in varying strengths of the same colour.
If pale, tranquil hues make your heart sing, but you have a large room that you want to paint, you can still achieve a cosy feel in here. Firstly, you can bring in two versions of one colour. Second, add depth to the space by getting playful with paint, then add decor.
Brooke says, soften the space through accessories and soft furnishings, adding tall plants to help fill up the height and large rugs. “A curtain fabric in a shade deeper than your wall colour will also work, she says, as will furniture to fit the room’s scale and bold Resene Wallpaper on a feature wall.”
Consider the undertones of your colours, as these will drive the cool or warm feeling in a room, playing a role in how a room feels spatially. Brooke suggests looking to cool colours when you want to change the appearance of a room: “Blues and greens can introduce a cool mood into a room,” she says.
“They can change the appearance of a room, pushing back walls and furnishings and making the room appear more spacious. They look best in a room with a sunny exposure, where the colours counteract some of the strength of the direct sun. Avoid these in shaded rooms.”
For an opposite effect, she says, warm colours, such as red and apricot, close in the walls of a room. “If the room is large, its dimensions seem decreased. Warm colours look their best in a not so bright room with southern light, so that the bright effect of the sunny colours is not too overbearing.”
The powerful effect of colour is that it can immediately reach our emotions. So it pays to pin down the type of atmosphere you want to lend to each room using colour, and it’s a chance to create a backdrop that truly resonates and speaks to the soul.