The texture of a fabric will affect the appearance of colour because of the way in which different textures absorb and reflect light off their surface: Satin and silks will reflect light, velvet absorb light and a rough-textured fabric will cast shadows upon itself – affecting the appearance of the colours’ temperature. Wool is a light absorbing texture and so will make the colour look warmer and more intense.

Playing with the way that different textures reflect, diffuse and absorb light can help to bring added depth and character to a room, particularly when using neutrals and monochrome schemes as it prevents the space from feeling lifeless, dull and flat.


Reflective Surfaces

Colours can look brighter, stronger and possibly even lighter when seen on reflective surfaces such as glass, mirror and metals. Our perception of a colour’s temperature can also alter under different lighting, at different times of day and when seen in relation to other colours:metals affect on colour temperature

mirrors affect on colour temperature

mirror reflective surfaces

light effects on colour

Light-Reflective Textures

A variety of textures is important when working with intense colours as they move light around and can bring darker shades to life.

light reflective textures 6Light-reflective textures such as silk, paints with a sheen, glazed, or glossy finish and as mentioned mirrors and metals bounce light around the room. Colours on these surfaces tend to look brighter, stronger, possibly even lighter. Light-absorbing textures, however such as matt paints make colours look darker and more subtle.

light reflective textures 5

light reflective textures 4

light reflective textures 3

light reflective textures 2

light reflective textures 1Light-absorbing textures such as matt paints, linens, tweeds and most wools absorb the light. This reduces the impact of the colour. So colours on these surfaces tend to look darker, more subtle.
light absorbing textures 1

light absorbing textures 2Light-filtering textures such as slatted blinds, shutters, sheer fabrics diffuse the light which tends to give colours greater delicacy.

TIP: “Colour, light and texture are equal partners in successful design schemes. You can put together the most beautiful decorative scheme but unless you consider the quality of the natural light that the room receives during the day, and light it properly at night, you will not be able to appreciate fully either the colours or the subtleties of texture.

Try to be aware of the natural light that you have before making any decisions about the artificial kind. Which direction does the room face? How much light does it get? Does it get morning or afternoon Sun? How does the light fall at different times of the day? An understanding of the natural light will help you to make informed decisions about what further lighting you need.

Natural light varies not only throughout the day. It changes with the seasons and the weather, too.”

KLC School of Design

Colours in Interiors



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