Women and their Work

Art and Decoration for Town and Country Homes

Creating Your Color Harmony

DOROTHY G. BELL June 1 1924
Women and their Work

Art and Decoration for Town and Country Homes

Creating Your Color Harmony

DOROTHY G. BELL June 1 1924

Art and Decoration for Town and Country Homes

Creating Your Color Harmony


COLOR and its application in the home is a life long study, and though it is impractical for many house owners to enter into it to any great extent, it is essential for them, if they are interested in the correct and restful decoration of their

home, to know the rudimentary principles underlying the use of colors. Sufficient attention is seldom given to the importance of colors in home furnishing.

Colors do not just “happen.” Every tint or shade has its own individuality and Its group of related colors and shades. In order to know the relationship which any color has to its neighbor in the color wheel, is to know what tones to put together to make a room appear to best advantage.

The phrase “good color” means a harmony of suitable tones, while “bad color” is a discord of tones. The first desire, then, in decoration, should be to make a home more home-like, pleasant and harmonious and, with this knowledge of the relationship of colors, there comes an understanding of the effect a certain color may have upon the occupant of a room and the sensation one feels in being surrounded by any color or group of colors.

If the colors of a home harmonize, it is not going too far to say that the lives of the occupants will harmonize more readily too, for the influence of color on the temperament is a vital one. This was proved during the_ war when considerable attention was given to the treatment of shellshocked soldiers by means of certain color harmonies.

_ A man who was very much in love with his wife quarrelled with her one day as they were dining in their own dining room. They failed to patch up the quarrel and it eventually resulted in a divorce. It was, some time later, that the woman became suddenly convinced that the red wall paper was the cause of this family quarrel. This color, she remembered, had always made him irritable and inclined to quarrel over the least thing.

It may have been noticed that regardless of the different kinds and colors of.wild flowers, which may be clustered together, there is always a perfect harmony. The same effect cannot always be obtained from cultivated ones. Nature has a way of harmonizing all discords, by introducing different, tones in the same-colors. Nature gives us no masses of flat color. When we look at a green field, it is not flat green that is seen, but rather a mixture of blue, yellow and red. Her richest colors are used most sparingly, and her lowest tones in the largest quantities.

Keep Background Soft

MOST people show good taste in selecting articles in color with which to sur-

round themselves, and with few exceptions the rooms of the homes will be pleasing in general effect. .

Frequently, however, the changing of a rug, the overdrapes, or the introduction of some brighter bit of color will tone up the entire scheme and produce results little short of marvelous. Everyone has certain colors which are preferred. These colors are naturally in mind as those which that person wants in the house. Usually the thought does not become any more definite than that a blue room or a yellow room is desired.

The'mistake is very frequently made of allowing the back ground of that room to be a severe harsh tone of that particular color. That usually results in making it too blue or too yellow when the room is not comfortable and restful. When the keynote' or leading color for each room has been decided upon, a color scheme should be built up which will make that color ap-

pear to best advantage.

There are three kinds of color harmony: Monochromatic, analogous and complementary.

Monochromatic makes use of one color only, treating the various surfaces and objects of the room in different shades and tints of that color. This scheme for a light brown for the ceiling, a darker brown for

the wall and a still darker brown for rug and over drapes, with perhaps white curtains and white enamel furniture and woodwork. White may always be used such as in woodwork or ceiling without breaking the monochromatic'scheme. Owing to the monotony which naturally results from such a scheme it has been done away with to à great extent in modern homes. Some years ago it was carried out in certain rooms of the house to a very exaggerated point. Bedrooms were the chief offenders and pink and blue were the

two shades which contributed to the offence for the most part. In those days there would be an all-over pink wall paper with pink hangings, pink rugs, pink covers on the dressing table and dresser and even pink pin cushions. Now, however, the ingenious home-maker would have several of these articles in blue and would prob-

ably throw a cushion or a rug of black here and there to break the monotony.

Analogous harmony is the use of related colors only—related colors which lie next to each other in the wheel of colors. When using blue, the related colors would be blue, green and violet with, of course, the different tints and shades of both. Because one would not want blue walls in combination with either blue, green or violet curtains, a different handling becomes necessary. The scheme would then be a

ceiling in oyster grey or ivory white, walls a warm grey, rugs a dark blue, overdrapes in figured cretonne with blue as the principal color and other tones in grey, blue green and violet.

Complementary harmony requires careful consideration, for it is the type of harmony which is most difficult of all to handle because of the great danger of allowing one shade to over balance another. It is best when developed from the monochromatic with the color appearing in this harmony used as the foundation and as the prevailing shade.

Supposing, for example, a monochromatic scheme has been worked out in blue for walls, curtains, drapes and rugs with ivory in woodwork and ceiling as the only relieving touch. In order to get a complementary harmony in this case, a vase of orange or a cushion of the same color may be used. If the room is big enough to carry both of these in orange, so much the better.,

The complementary, then, may be developed as well from the analogous type of harmony, but this is more difficult. It is best where only two related colors have been chosen for the analogous scheme, as for example—green and blue. In this case, red or orange may be chosen as the third color, or the two may be combined in an orange-red tone if preferred. In ány case, the bright tone must not prevail or the balance will be over thrown, for a very little of a bright shade is equivalent to a great deal of a dark one.

According to an authority on color harmony, an effect of balance is secured when there is just enough of the contrasting tones to give support to the predominating color. This has been worked out ón a mathematical basis as follows:-—

Sixty per cent, of the key color which includes the true shade and the related one.

Forty per cent, of the complementary color including the true shade and its related one. As an illustration of this, the following room may be taken as an example. The living room has baseboard and molding finished in oyster grey and a marble mantle. First comes the analogous group: orange, red and violet—in this case carried out by the use of brown, dull red and mulberry. Two rugs and the window drapes are of the red shade, the Chesterfield and one chair mulberry, the wall paper and another chair in varying shades of brown and the furniture mahogany. Then comes the complementary touch. A bright blue was chosen as this was the complementary of the prevailing shade—brown. Blue is used very sparingly in a tiny vase on the table, on two book covers, in the pattern of one of the rugs, and in wall paper border.

A lighter and a darker shade always increase in difference when brought together. When a light color is placed next to a dark color, the light appears lighter than it is, and the dark, darker. When red and green are placed side by side, the red appears redder than it actually is, and the green, greener. Shades and colors must seem to belong together. Colors may be inharmonious because they are too bright, and therefore too harsh—for example—red and orange, blue and green, yellow and crimson are bad combinations.

Yellow Conspicuous

YELLOW on blue is

about the most conspicuous color scheme that can be obtained. This combination is used a great deal by advertising firms owing to the fact that is has been proved that yellow letters on a blue background may be seen farther than any other combination of colors. White on black is the next most conspicuous and striking and is used a great deal for the same purpose. Such contrasts are often helpful, but care must be taken in the choice of colors, as otherwise they will give harsh effects rather than harmony. Colors must be restful or they will tire us out. This restfulness is produced by low, dull colors, if contrasted or given harmony of likenesses and unity between brighter colors. » The color scheme in general should not be too assertive. Loud colors are always offensive and very bright colors in contrast are often too startling.

But some prefer one color—others another, but nevertheless most decorators are agreed that the hall, drawing room and living rooms are naturally the rooms to which first attention should be given, and the soft dull colors—such as light yellow, green, blue and brown have been favored for these portions of the house.

For bedrooms and boudoirs, light delicate colors are usually chosen. On the other hand, for the dining room, library and more formal apartments of special interest to men, the stronger richer colors, dark red, green, blue and brown are more suitable.

The amount of light and the size of the room are important factors in determining the color of the wall and woodwork. The greater the light—the darker the color that may be used, though very dark colors should always be more or less avoided. Warm colors including cream, buff, tan, golden brown, reddish brown, are best for rooms where the light is from the north, while rooms with a southerly exposure are best in the cooler colors—greyish, bluish and greenish tones, cool tan, neutral browns, etc. Plain lighttinted walls are best in smaller rooms and large figured papers are wrong for such a room. A room with a low ceiling should have the wall color to the corner. Rooms with high ceilings may have the “drop ceiling.”

Tn determining the colors in a house, the various parts of which are so often thrown together, by the use of large openings, uniformity of colors is particularly important. Not only should the color of the individual room be good, but it should be in harmony with the hall and other rooms into which it opens. It is necessary then, to plan a color scheme for the whole house in which violent contrasts will be avoided and restful harmony encouraged.