Color to Supplement or Correct Nature
Color must be used to supplement or correct nature in making our rooms warm and sunny or cool and dim. Hence the choice of the dominant hue is often conditioned by the nature and amount of light received by the room to be decorated. If the light is deficient in quantity it must be conserved and diffused through the use, not only of high values, but also of hues pos- sessing a high degree of luminosity. If it is deficient in warmth and brightness these qualities must be sup- plied by warm and bright colors. If it is hot or over- bright these defects must be remedied by cool and relatively non-luminous colors. The luminosity of the spectrum hues was discussed in the chapter on light and shade. It remains here to discuss their relative warmth.
Red is the warmest color and blue the coldest, with orange, yellow and green between them on one side of the chromatic circle and purple and violet on the other side. Rooms with a north light require relatively warm coloring, and rooms with a south light relatively cool; and as a general but by no means an invariable rule one of the warm colors will be made dominant in a north or northeast room, and one of the cool colors in a south or southwest room. It is to be noted, however, that, while very sunny rooms require cool colors, they are most pleasant when light tones of those colors are employed. Light blues and greens temper and cool an over-sunny room; dark, cold tones of those hues would destroy the character of the room, being markedly inconsistent with its light, sunny and some-what gay nature. On the other hand, north rooms are in general most pleasant with darker tones of the warm hues, for the same reasons of congruity. Of course this does not mean that light, cool colors only are to be used in sunny rooms, or dark, warm colors only in north rooms. It means simply that the dominant hues and tones must vary with the light, subject to the general requirement of congruity that the tone of all colors will be progressively lowered with the increasing size of the room. Neutral gray has no place in north rooms. Where there is plenty of north light, a very warm gray-say a light sand-can be used on the walls in conjunction with rugs, hangings, upholstery stuffs and accessories in which red, rose, orange or golden yellows are emphasized; but where there is only a little north light the room must have yellow. As an extreme instance we may take a dining room on the north side of a house shut in by hills and trees. Such a room, if small, could be treated with cream paneled walls and trim, a plain or self-tone rose- red rug, and chintz hangings containing rose-reds, blues and corn-yellows on a cream ground; or, if larger and more imposing, with black lacquered woodwork, soft yellow damask or grass-cloth walls, an orange-gold plain rug, and hangings of brocade in colors ranging from orange-red to the yellow of the walls.
Warm-colored walls are more agreeable to many people than cool, more becoming to many complexions, and more sympathetic backgrounds for other furnish- ings. For these reasons it is often wise to use cream or warm gray walls in a room where the dominant hue must be cold, rather than to put a light tone of the hue itself on the walls. Thus when yellow of the required tone is almost but not perfectly neutralized by its complementary violet, the resulting gray makes a better wall for a dominant violet or plum than would a violet-gray of the same tone.