Colour combination

Beach House by Cagdas Design Works – entrant in the Under a Million category SBID Awards 2014
Beach House by Cagdas Design Works – entrant in the Under a Million category SBID Awards 2014

Vanessa Brady, our interior design expert, explains why colour is an all-important aspect when redesigning a space

When looking at redesigning a space, an all-important aspect is colour, writes Vanessa Brady. One sure way to get a head start is by replacing the furniture entirely as it removes previous restrictions on style and allowing the home owner to choose a new colour palette. This month, alongside the SBID International Colour Council focus which will be an assembly of the industry’s experts on the topic, I am looking at colour within the home and the scientifically-proven emotions that it generates.

In the past, I have worked with government contracts where the design input had only been the choice of paint colour. It got me thinking about how people react in prisons, schools and hospitals. So over the years I worked with ICI Paints (now known as Dulux) I learned much about the emotional value and the impact colour creates.

In more recent decades, private finance as well as government initiatives have provided an opportunity for the creative aspect of design to develop in a variety of industries. Now, the dialogue on colour is more sophisticated than its formative years as its impact on the wellbeing of users in social institutions and the commercial environment is becoming more widespread. Colour entered the design industry for commercial reasons. It is now a scientifically-proved fact that certain colours affect our mood extensively which impacts on our emotional behaviour, for instance, aggression, depression, healing and learning; so incorporating the right shades into the room space can improve or harm your personal wellbeing.

On the back of commercial design, we also learn a lot for residential design. When designing a residential room I have always started with the exterior. What is happening outside the window and how it impacts on the interior. This is a really important consideration because if you intend to sleep, entertain, watch TV or relax in a room, the location of light through windows determines where you position your furniture, and the view needs to be highlighted or perhaps disguised so this will impact on your choice of colour.

So now you have the function, the light input and you have your own budget set out so you are on the right track. Next, consider the time of day you use the room as this sets the tone of colour palette, which is the density or shade of the colour.

Finally you must consider the conduct of those using the room. In your assessment, pay careful consideration to how the occupants will move around the room. Will there be children? Does the room need to have wheelchair and disabled access?

Consider the ease of cleaning also. If pets, children or even elderly people with impaired vision will have regular use of it, you may have to choose different materials and/or shades. The colour adaptations impact on the visual ceiling height and scale of the room, maintenance and cleaning. All of these points are important for aftercare. Without restrictions, new furniture is suddenly inspiring again.


Dr Vanessa Brady OBE, SBID President