Blog: The art of colour specification

Colour can have a significant influence – not only on the aesthetic of a building but also on the wellbeing of its occupants. Here, Paul Fleming, Marketing Manager – Contractor Specifier at Dulux Trade discusses the latest trends and tools available to help specifiers utilise colour effectively.

The importance of colour cannot be underestimated – and should be used to its full potential. A well thought out colour palette and interior design can have a significant affect on the overall aesthetic and feel of a space, as well as the behaviours of building occupants.

To achieve a successful colour scheme, there are a number of factors worth considering.

Contrasting Colours
With the rise of open plan spaces, in both office surroundings and new residential buildings, selecting a colour scheme design that associates blocks of colour with the purpose of the room, or signals a transition to a different area, can be beneficial for orientation. For instance, graphic borders that use colour contrast, such as framing pastel colours with a boarder of coal and dark blue, create a sense of space as well as aid spatial awareness.

Colour contrast can also help specifiers and building owners adhere to the guidelines set out in the Equality Act Approved Document M (ADM), particularly for building users with visual impairments. Key areas where designers need to create colour contrast are critical surfaces such as doors, skirting, general obstacles and furniture. For visually impaired people, these are the most important elements, when surveying a room, gathering information and understanding a space in terms of its dimensions and size.

Part M stipulates a minimum difference in light reflectance value (LRV) between two adjoining surfaces of 30 points for new-build and major refurbishment projects, with Building Standards Part M (BS8300) stating this is best practice for all buildings. Guidance is available to ensure that an environment can be created that meets the needs of visually impaired people, whilst also retaining an attractive aesthetic.

Colour Zones
Introducing simple colour statements to the floor and walls can create zones and help segment a larger open space into more specific task orientated spaces.

For example, in a commercial office a cool colour palette, which encourages productivity, should be considered for work stations, with cool shades of blue in particular encouraging a clear-headed approach. Whilst for break out areas light neutrals and sea-greens support a need for connection – ideal for a spaces where employees are encouraged to collaborate.

Conversely, in larger mixed developments a colour palette of key neutrals or one main colour as a base scheme is recommended. This will provide a cohesive flow throughout the building whilst reducing the amount of paint required for maintenance purposes.

Current Trends
Of course design trends also have a considerable influence on a building aesthetic. 2018 has seen a rise in the use of wood and leather within interior decorating and architecture – both natural textures. Although a variety of woods are experiencing an increase in popularity, analysis from AkzoNobel’s 2018 ColourFutures report suggests a tendency towards the warmer shades of red, alongside violet and pink, which if used effectively, can be incorporated into any prospective colour scheme.

ColourFutures is a dedicated resource for specifiers looking to understand what people need from paint, and more importantly colour, in relation to the current social, economic and design climate. It is felt that the mood of 2018 will continue to be one of uncertainty, and subsequently it will be a sense of familiarity and comfort that are sought after. Softer colours that work harmoniously together will remain at the forefront of colour trends in 2018 and the warming tones of wood – combined with the tactile comfort of leather provide the ideal starting point.

Expert Advice and Available Apps
With a multitude of colour palettes, combinations and factors to consider, specification can seem like a daunting task. However, many manufacturers do provide guidance through the use of expert colour consultants who can support the specification process and answer any questions that may arise.

For those looking to create interior schemes themselves, whether it is a simple concept board or a detailed colour and product specification, there is also a range of practical and easy to use online tools available.

Many of these tools are now easily accessible in an app format, allowing specifiers to download them to personal, mobile devices and review and amend colour palette options from wherever they are. For example, the Dulux Trade Colour Schemer is easy to use and provides professionals with unprecedented access to an extensive range of colour schemes, tailored to meet the needs of a variety of market sectors.

By using the tool, specifiers can choose colour schemes and create specific designs that can then be transferred to professionally designed moodboards to be downloaded for continual use.

When deciding on a paint scheme, whether the primary purpose of the building is residential or commercial, specifiers and building owners should consider how the colour palette and design will affect building occupants.

While it is important to recognise and include the growing trends that will be incorporated within 2018’s interior designs, the overall design should focus on the individual business or sector values as well as the wellbeing of building occupants.

For further information and technical support, visit: