Color is becoming more and more important in both house furnishing and equipment, and it is now daringly used in furniture, upholstery materials, draperies, bath and kitchen equipment, and even in small kitchen utensils. Even though more color is in use, the principles governing it remain the same. To use color effectively and artistically in interior decoration requires something more than merely becoming "color conscious." Although we do not know just to what extent colors please us or irritate us, we do know that certain combinations of color are annoying to some persons and other combinations are pleasing. It requires a knowledge of the use of color - its effect on the height and breadth of rooms, the effect light has on it, the effect of certain colors upon each other, color harmony and contrasting color harmony, and of many other uses to obtain successful results. Color theory will not be discussed in this chapter as there are many good books on the subject.
A few principles should be observed, however, if best results are obtained with color in furnishing a home. Colors differ according to their dimensions, that is, in warmth, in lightness, and in value. Exposure, area, and shapes and colors of objects in a room dictate uses. "The law of areas" is perhaps one of the most violated of color laws. According to this law, large areas should be restful with few or no contrasts while small amounts may show decided contrasts. In furnishing it is well to keep in mind that in all color combinations there should be a predominating color or principal color and that backgrounds should be kept subdued or dull in effect, particularly if the objects in the room are to stand out and to appear effective. The "keying of colors" also is important. This may be done by mixing them to introduce one color in common or by uniting them by means of a neutral color. There are a number of other ways also to key colors.
Some color combinations are pleasing and others are not. There are, however, certain harmonies that will produce pleasing effects under nearly all conditions. Whatever the combinations used there should be one color in common throughout. Color may also be used to change the effect of the size of rooms. Small interiors may be made to appear larger through the use of light colors. Before deciding upon the color of a room its size, the amount of light, and its architectural treatment should be considered.1