How does colour affect our perception of the interiors?

how does coulour affect our perception of interior

Your home is your sanctuary. How well designed it is will influence your experience, everyday mood, and ultimatelly your quality of life. However, as often as not our homes come with predetermined layouts and orientation. Rooms might feel too small or too narrow, without enough light or with low ceilings. When structural changes are not an option, we need to explore different ways to at least visually change our perception of interiors.

Paint is one of the easiest ways to visually impact the size and appearance of any room. Before choosing colours for your home, you want to understand what effects you want to achieve, or what problems to address. White and light neutrals are the best for making space look bigger, while dark and bold colours make the space seem smaller or more intimate. Many people avoid using darker tones in their space and stay on the safe side with lighter, neutral tones. However, strategic placement and contrast painting may show you the full potential of your own home.

We will explore eight simple paint techniques that visually affect our perception of interiors.


Using whites and light paint colours to enlarge the space.

The proven way to enlarge the space is painting the walls and a ceiling, with whites or light neutral colours. Rooms will instantly look more spacious and even lighter. If the floors are darker, lighter rugs will do the same effect. To achieve an almost invisible border from wall to ceiling, and expand room to look higher, paint them in the same colour.


To make the room look wider paint the back wall and a ceiling in dark colours. Side walls keep in lighter tones.

The space will look wider if you use the same dark paint on the back wall and a ceiling. Leaving the side walls in lighter tones will instantly give more spacious look. Think narrow rooms, long corridors or even old fashioned kitchens and bathrooms.

long hall with dark doors and dar ceiling
long hall with bold coloured doors and multicoloured zig zag floor


to visually lower a ceiling apply dark colours while keeping the walls in whites or lighter tones.

High ceilings are one of the most desirable design elements, giving the instant aesthetic or even luxury appeal to any space. Rooms with high ceilings feel more spacious, have more light and even smaller rooms look bigger. Sometimes however, ceilings may be too high, challenging to decorate or giving a feel of emptiness. There are many ways to create more intimate space with lowering high ceilings but one of the easiest is with paint. The room will feel instantly cosier and visually smaller if you paint the ceilings with darker tones or try using bold colours, like on the pictures bellow.


to make ceiling look taller, paint the walls in darker tones and keep the ceiling light

A completely opposite situation is when rooms come with lower ceilings, giving a small or cramped feeling. To vertically expand the space and to achieve the appearance of higher ceilings, try painting the walls in darker tones while ceiling stays in white or lighter tones than the rest of the room.

dining room with sage panelled walls and light ceiling


creating an accent wall with dark tone walls and back wall in lighter colour

A highlight wall is very effective and eye catching way to accentuate an art or a furniture piece. You might want to keep it in lighter tones than the rest of the room. The same effect can be achieved with a contrast solution when the highlight wall is painted in darker colours. Whichever option you choose, accent walls create a focal point and give depth to a space.


to make room look narrower, paint in darker tones long opposing walls

If a room feels disproportional, too big or too wide and redesigning is not an option, using just paint may be an effective solution. To visually put a wide room together, apply darker tones on opposing walls. Dark colours absorb light and walls would seem to be closer than they really are. This is an easy and quite effective way to improve the proportions of a room.


to make room look shorter apply paint in darker tones on the back wall

Another problem with disproportion is when room looks too large or more often corridors and hallways feel uncomfortably long. You might want, to at least visually, make them shorter. One easy way to shorten a room or a hall is by painting the back wall a bold colour. With this technique you will achieve two things; a darker wall seems closer and adding a pop of colour will bring interest and make a statement.


to make room seem smaller, paint the whole room including ceiling in dark tones

Another way to make a room smaller is to choose dark colours and paint them on every wall including the ceiling. As dark colours rather absorb than reflect light, these rooms will be more intimate and darker. Think bedrooms, libraries or spaces where you want to minimise light. Even smaller rooms will feel more elegant and cozy if you paint them like this.


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