Decoration - Colour Schemes

Colour Schemes will enchance your home. © Michelle Chaplow
Colour Schemes will enchance your home.

Colour Schemes

Colour is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to transform your Andalusian home into the dwelling of your dreams. And you might take a tip from the natives and go with Mediterranean favourites as these have been proven to perform under a strong sun: the sea-inspired ultramarine, the mustard tones so popular here, deep terracottas, watermelon and, of course, that brilliant white that promises to ward off heat as it stands against a sapphire sky.

Very likely you will arrive in southern Spain embedded with a different colour scheme, one that worked well for you under the light of another lattitude. Begin to open your mind to new colours by consciously exploring the new schemes that surround you here. It is also helpful to invest in a few Spanish home decorating magazines; even if you don't understand the text, you can absorb much information from the images. Finally, a brief introduction to the science of colour combination can help you make sense of what you see and, eventually, to incorporate it into a home decoration plan that combines local colour in ways that appeal to your personal taste.

Monochromatic Colour Schemes
One of the simplest formulas for working with colours is the monochromatic, or single colour, scheme. This is where you look at a colour wheel - available for consultation at any store where paint is sold - and choose a single colour that appeals to you. Zeroing in on this colour, you begin to decorate using a variety of darker and lighter shades. In Andalusian terms this might involve mustard yellow - or Seville yellow, as it is known here - for sofas and chairs. Walls could be painted in a much lighter shade of of this muted colour, while throw pillows, curtains and other accessories stand out in darker, almost brown tones.

Monochromatic colour schemes are known by colour psychologists to be among the most relaxing schemes. However, they can relax to the point of boredom and this is where help from the next formula comes in.

Complementary Colour Schemes
Confusingly, complementary colours are actually contrasting colours. These are colours that stand opposite each other on a colour wheel, and they can be overwhelming when they are set side by side at full intensity - bright red and green, for example. However, when lighter or muted shades of contrasting colours are chosen, the results can be very complementary indeed.

The is the effect achieved when certain shades of blue are combined with yellow, one of the most popular colour schemes found in Andalusian ceramics. Incidentally, this delightful pottery, especially when blue predominates, looks very nice in a room painted in a light to medium shade of Seville yellow.

Other Colour Schemes
Using either the mochromatic or complementary formula you can create any number of ambiences in your home. But there are other ways to use the colour wheel as well. For example, you can choose two colours that appear next to each other on the wheel and expand into an infinite number of shades of each of these if you wish. Another possibility is to work with two complementary colours and then factor in a colour that sits next to either of these on the wheel. And if that isn't enough to inspire, then find the colour you are wishing to work with and locate the two colours that sit an equal distance away from it on the colour wheel - you might find some surprisingly nice companions.

To improve your skill at working with colour, spend time analysing your favourite home decoration images in books and magazines. Try to identify the colour scheme used in order to better understand the dynamics of combining shades from various parts of the colour wheel. An excellent book to help you further develop your colour savvy is Colour in Decoration by Annie Sloan and Kate Gwynn.

Always remember though, that the light in southern Spain is especially intense and will affect the ambience created by the colours you choose. Therefore, before venturing into new colours - especially those you don't see commonly used in local decoration - gather samples of fabric, paint, tile and other materials in order to live with your potential choice for at least a few days before deciding whether or not to dive in and start decorating.

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