Master – Colours and the fifth wall

What effect do colours have on ceiling designs?

Colours and the Fifth Wall

The favourite colour for a ceiling is without doubt white! But does it have to be white? Why not try to use colours in your next design? In this article, we give you some insights into what can be achieved with colourful ceilings, how colours can create different feelings and how they can make the perception of a space change.

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When designing a new room, space or building, many factors have to be considered, from the vision of the client and architects and the functionality of the space to those who are using it and much more besides. Most important, in our opinion, is to consider the purpose of the space and how this can be enhanced to increase the wellbeing of the occupants. A crucial element in this is the, sometimes overlooked, fifth wall – the ceiling.
And here colours can play a vital role in the overall design. When discussing the use of colours as a design element in architecture, Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect and designer who pioneered modern architecture, said that it was as powerful as the ground plan or section of a building.

How to change the perception of the space with colours?

Colours can be used to change the perception of a room and space. It makes it seem bigger or smaller, wider or narrower, and it can put emphasis on different parts to create the right atmosphere. Here we have illustrated how working with colours on different surfaces can be useful for your design:

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  1. If you want to create a feeling of a larger space the best approach is to use light colours reflecting daylight. This will make the room seem more spacious and open
  2. If you want to create a more compact space, for example to increase cosiness, it can be beneficial to look towards darker and stronger colours and use them on all elements. This will give the feeling of enclosure.
  3. If you want to play with the height of the room you can try to use stronger ceiling colours. In some designs this can create a more pleasant and inviting feeling by giving the perception of lower ceiling height.
  4. If you are looking to make the space seem less squeezed you can use brighter colours or white and complement this with coloured walls. This will create the feeling of a less claustrophobic space and make the ceiling seem higher.
  5. For hallways you might want them to seem wider. To do this, you can make the ceiling and the end wall a darker colour than the side walls. This is a commonly used technique for designers who want to change the perception of a narrow space.
  6. You can make a room feel shorter by using darker colours on the back wall and brighter colours on the ceiling and remaining walls.
  7. And finally, you can put the focus on a wall by keeping it in brighter colours and keeping elsewhere darker to create a contrast.

So now that you know how you can play with the perception of a space, let’s have a look at how different colours can create different effects and atmospheres.

What effect does a coloured ceiling have?

Colour selection is frequently left to the end of the architectural design process, and made peripheral to the structure of the building. This is rather unfortunate because choosing the right colours for your space means the difference between a perfect marriage of function and effect. While it can be a daunting assignment, working from a colour palette can help you choose coordinated colour schemes to meet your goal. For example, black tiles could appear ominous or even oppressive at times, but they can also be very cool and hip—it all depends on the environment. In the end, a beautifully designed space is like any stunning work of art.

So before selecting the colour of your design it is important to consider the function of the space you are designing. For example, it might not be the right choice to put an intense red ceiling in an open office space, but rather a white acoustic ceiling reflecting daylight and helping to increase productivity.

Let’s have a look at common traits associated with some exciting colours and their effects when used to create modern and colourful designs.

Green can make us relaxed. It’s the most comfortable colour on the eye. With green, you can create strong links to nature which makes people take care of a place. Be aware that green comes in many different variations, and for example, lime green can be rather intense on the eye because of the high concentration of yellow in it.

Yellow is the colour that most people associate with the sun, happiness and being uplifted. Yellow can make a place more luminous and positive.

Red can be an intense colour on the eye, so when going for red it’s a good idea to look for either saturated reds or soft pinks. A saturated red can be energizing, stimulating and empowering, whereas softer pinks can be very soothing, comforting and delicate.

White is the colour that is associated with cleanliness, brightness and purity. White can be a great colour if you want a subtler ceiling that does not take too much focus off the room. A small tip is to use white with a tint of beige in it, as it will make it more relaxing on the eye.

Black can make a space seem exclusive, elegant and cosy. It’s a great colour for creating an intimate space, for example in a restaurant or café. But dark ceilings can also be overwhelming, so it has to be designed with care and used in the right spaces.

Blue is the most popular colour in the world. Blue can have a calming effect on us, and the right level of blue creates associations to nature, the ocean and the sky. Think of blue if you want to create for example a calm space for people to concentrate and perform.

Ready to make your next project colourful?

Did we pique your interest in exploring the endless possibilities with colourful design for your next project? Go and have a look at our Colours of Wellbeing: this assortment of colours has been specifically created to enable you to design the perfect space that looks as beautiful as it sounds.

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