How Colour is Perceived in a Space

How often do you ask yourself this question: What colour should I paint my room? 

As Interior Designers, we receive this question a lot,and friends and clients often want us to answer it over the phone. However, this is a hard question to address without seeing the space, as we need to know a lot of information in order to make a recommendation. When deciding what colour to paint a room, consider the following questions:

  • How much natural light does the room get? The number of windows affects the appearance of colour.
  • Where are the windows placed? North-facing windows will generally get less sunlight than south-facing panes.
  • How is the room furnished, and in what colour scheme? Different hues in furniture will interact in different ways.
  • What is the room used for? Rooms where lots of activity takes place might be brighter than rooms that are used mostly for sleeping.

When we choose colour for a space, we study it in natural light at different times of the day, and again under artificial light sources, before deciding on the exact shade. Some colours change shade completely with the slightest variation in natural or artificial light. On a Sunny morning, the light is very cool as the sun comes up, and then becomes warm – it changes over the course of the day to become neutral at high noon. As the sun sets, light becomes very warm again. On a cloudy day, light tends to be neutral or cool.

East -Facing windows allow in warm light in the mornings. West-facing windows let in 
warm light in the afternoon. But for the rest of the day, the light from both directions is cool or neutral. In a room with few windows and artificial light, we tend to choose a colour that always looks good under that particular light source. Also, a living room with natural light will be able to take a deep shade more easily than a north facing room, where any natural light should be enhanced as much as possible with pale tones.