The Secret Art of Using Colour to Enhance your Bathroom
Throughout history, people have known about and taken advantage of the power of colour. Colour can influence behaviour, trigger emotional responses and there are those that believe colour has the power to heal. Its undeniable that colour has had an enormous influence on the development of humanity.
The earliest civilizations used colour very much as we do today. Roman Emperors wore the Toga Picta (a royal purple toga with gold embroidery) as a means to indicate their status, Celtic tribes used the woad plant to produce a deep blue dye which they used all over their bodies before going into battle and most amazingly Indian tailors are recorded as making use of many different colours of dye to produce printed cotton as early as 330 B.C.
With colour being so vitally important to our everyday lives, its only natural that we want our houses to be coloured just the way we like. You may be surprised to know that over their lifetime the average person will spend more than 2 years in the bathroom, so its only natural that we should spend an appropriate amount of time on making sure that the colours we use to decorate it will compliment how we want our bathroom to look and feel.
The Temperature of Colour
Everyone knows about the association of colours with emotions, such as Red for passion, Blue for tranquility and Green for peace, but were you also aware that colours have an associated temperature?
Reds, Oranges and Yellows, the colours of the burning sun, are warm.
Blues, Greens and Purples, the colours of the grass, sea and sky, are cool.
Blacks, Browns, Greys, Silvers and Whites, the colours of the soil, are neutral.
Warm colours make a room appear smaller and cosier & objects appear larger and heavier. Time appears to pass more quickly in warm spaces and warm colours & earthy tones encourage and maintain body warmth. Warm colours are a great way to re-energize the body if your job involves a lot of physical activity.
Cool colours make a room appear larger and more spacious & objects appear smaller and lighter. Time appears to pass more slowly in cool spaces. Cool colours are more conducive to mental activities and dampen sound effects. Cool colours are effective to encourage the body and mind to relax and unwind, and are well suited to those with jobs where intense concentration is required for long periods of time.
Neutral colours as the name suggests are not considered especially warm or cool. Neutral colours depend largely on the colours around them and tend to reflect the attributes of those colours rather than possessing their own. Neutral colours are seen as quiet and calming, and ideal for those with extremely stressful occupations!
We may be several thousand years away from those who lived outdoors all their lives and never knew a town or city, but the human brain still remains conditioned after all this time to expect the darkest colours at our feet, mid-range colours at eye level and the lightest colours high above us.
Some people like to take advantage of this ancestral recall in their bathrooms to give the impression of bathing in the great outdoors, using earthy tones of ceramic floor tiles, painting the lower halves of the walls green and the upper halves and ceiling different shades of blue. To complete the experience, plants are often placed around the room and some people even go so far as to have soothing music playing in the background.
Make Colour Work for You
However, regardless of your choice in bathroom colours, it is strongly recommended that you use at least three but no more than six separate colours to decorate. Of these one should be the lightest, another should be designated as the accent and the other colours should be somewhere in between the two. The accent colour should be either the brightest or darkest of all the chosen colours, and used in at least three different positions within the room.
The majority of the bathroom should be decorated in the lightest colour. Medium colours should be used in secondary areas such as shower curtains, window blinds and mirror frames, leaving the accent colour to be used on items like towels, rugs, soap dishes and other small but important bathroom accessories.
For a small bathroom a popular alternative is to tile three walls in white or very light colours and have the fourth wall painted in a dramatic and contrasting colour. The white tiles will pick up hues of this colour and project them around giving the illusion of depth and making the whole room seem larger and less plain.
If youre really proud of a certain feature of your bathroom and want the eye to be drawn naturally to it, here are some tricks you can use to this effect:
To emphasise the floor, colour it darker than either the walls or the ceiling.
A tray ceiling is an attractive way to add depth and break up an ordinary flat ceiling line, and can be inverted or recessed. Pick one colour and use a darker shade of it on the tray and a lighter shade on the rest of the ceiling. This will draw the eye naturally upwards.
Add a decorative border along the skirting boards or along the upper sides of the walls to focus attention in those directions.
Remember to make sure you buy and use special bathroom paint, designed with a high tolerance for humidity. The more glossy the paint, the more light will reflect off the surface of your walls, and the brighter and more cheerful your bathroom will appear!
Say Goodbye to Clutter!
Theres nothing worse than feeling uneasy in your own bathroom. You could have the most relaxing colours in the world but if your bathroom is or feels cluttered then the effect youre aiming for will be lost. However, there are a number of simple and inexpensive steps you can take to deal with this problem.
Painting bathroom furniture white makes it seem to take up less space and thus a small room appears larger than it actually is. Painting furniture in dark colours will naturally have the opposite effect, and is an possibility where you have a large bathroom with plenty of light.
Adding extra lighting can open up the look of your bathroom. Wall sconces are highly affordable and will add warmth and depth to your room. If youre looking to spend a little more on your bathroom, you can fit florescent tube lights, have larger windows installed or even add a skylight!
Last but not least an increasingly popular step taken by many designers is to install either one large or multiple small mirrors above the bathroom sink. Mirrors reflect the light in the room, pick up the subtle shades, tones and patterns and project them around the entire room, making it appear larger and more colourful. For even more depth, install two full-length dress mirrors on opposite walls facing each other. Youll be amazed at the results!
Taking the Final Step
While adding colour to a room is the cheapest and easiest way to dramatically change its appearance, reactions to colour are personal to each individual. What relaxes one person might put anothers nerves on edge. Ultimately, it all comes down to a combination of past experiences, emotional associations and personal preference. If it feels right, then follow your gut instinct and go for it!