Interior Design: How Can You Use Colour to Create Visual Effects?


Making a Tall Ceiling Look Lower

In a large room with high ceilings, a colour one or two tones darker than the walls can make the ceiling appear lower so the space feels cosier and more intimate.


Making a Small Room Look Larger

Decorating with paler, lighter tones and hues that have a low contrast can make a small rooms feel larger and create a feeling of spaciousness.

Painting Architectural details in the same colour along with shelving and furniture in similar tones / values helps to create a seamless look, detracting from unwanted ‘fuss’. This creates a very calm atmosphere.

Tip to remember: In awkwardly shaped rooms, paint the walls and ceilings in the same colour – otherwise a strong contrast between the wall and ceiling will draw attention to the imperfections where they butt up against one another.

Using pale colours or using the same colour for both the walls and ceilings, are effective solutions to make a small room look larger and provide a greater sense of harmony.


Making a Long, Thin / Narrow Area Seem Wider

The use of advancing colours on the far and closer wall can re-proportion / foreshorten a long, narrow room.


Horizontal stripes can also make a space feel wider.


Making a Floor Area Seem Bigger

If the floors are dark, painting skirting boards in dark shades or black can look very sophisticated and is practical in areas of heavy use, it will make the floor area look greater than skirting boards painted in a pale colour.


Another way to make the floor area appear bigger is to have a seamless transition in flooring from one room to the next.


Making a Low Ceiling Look Taller

Painting the ceiling in a pale, light tone – one or two tones lighter than the walls will make the ceiling look taller.


Another visual trick is to use vertical stripes.

Making an Interesting Feature Stand Out

Fireplaces are excellent focal points – you can enhance them even more by dressing them with accessories such as hanging a mirror or pictures above it.
Or simply painting the area in a bold colour to make it stand out even more.

Using Colour to Warm Up a Cold, North-facing Room

North-facing rooms that receive morning light will often benefit from warm colours to take the chill off and make them feel more welcoming.

Using Colour to Cool Down a Sunny Room

South-facing rooms, by contrast, receive warmer, more golden light as the sun moves round and may feel too warm in the afternoon when decorated in intense warm colours. Using the cooler colours such as blues, greys and greens can cool down an overly sunny room.

Amanda Mulquiney-Birbeck