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February 26, 2008

Light/Dark Colours and Warm/Cool Colours:

  • Light colours reflect more light and make rooms look larger. Darker coloured rooms reflect less light and force a mood on a room. These colours are better suited to areas in our environment which we use for a specific purpose and in which we spend less time.
  • Firstly, nature conditions us to seek balance and harmony in our surroundings, and offers us guidelines for the use of light and dark colours. Usually we find darker colours at our feet (e.g. the forest floor), medium values at eye level (trees) and the lighter colours above (the sky). It's often sensible to follow this gradation, but of course is not essential.
  • Secondly, you should tend to use intense, dark hues in rooms usually occupied for a short time only (such as entrances, formal dining rooms, etc). Intense hues can become overwhelming. However, their vibrant and dramatic effects will always draw compliments from friends and family.
  • Light, pale colours work best in rooms with little natural light as they make best use of reflected light. However, if a room is generally used only at night (e.g. a formal lounge, bedroom or study) a colour scheme that has a medium – valued dominant colour may be preferable.
  • Refer to the pictures on this page for an example of where light colour has been used in a room, and dark colour has been used in another room.


  • In rooms where someone wishes to create a restful, peaceful atmosphere, the use of cool or pastel colours is advised. This gives out relaxed, harmonious vibrations. It is best to choose warm colours for rooms where activity is to take place e.g. the living room, study, playroom, workroom, studio, reception area, halls, stairways – where the stimulating qualities of warm colours are appropriate.
  • Warm colours like reds, burgundies and bright yellows tend to close in a room.
  • Blue and green colours can introduce 'coolness' to a room. They look best in sunny rooms where the colours seem to counteract the strength of direct sunlight. They should be avoided in shaded rooms. Pale, cool colours can also push walls back, giving a more spacious effect. Cool colours tend to 'go away' from one, or feel distant – they cause a room to recede.
  • The restraints taken heed of are fixtures like carpeting, tiles or kitchen surfaces that cannot be changed.
  • Large areas of colour often appear much darker once painted. For this reason it may be best to order the paints one shade lighter than the colour selected. Colours found at the top of the Colour Expressions display are warm, while those at the bottom are cool.

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