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Backyard Colour Themes

By Melanie Rekola

Photos by Melanie Rekola

Colour is an individual taste. The landscape, from colourful foliage and flowers to pool interiors, can be homogenous or high-contrast, bold or subdued, soothing or exciting. Colour can invoke any number of strong feelings from exhilaration to serene calmness, as the diverse array of human emotion is intricately connected to colour.

Scientifically, colour is a function of light. However, light from the sun cannot actually be seen, as it is colourless. In fact, colour is a result of light refraction, absorption, and reflection. The sunlight that reaches our eyes as a specific shade depends upon objects it touches, how light is absorbed by said objects, and what light is reflected. Our brains receive messages as a result of this process and are interpreted as colour.

Individual experience plays a key role in the emotion we attach to colour. For example, the colour red is an emotionally intense hue. For some, it evokes feelings of love and passion, but for others it is interpreted as a sign of danger or rage. It is through our own familiarities, cultural influence, and personal taste that we attach meaning to colour.

Colour theory
The basic colour wheel is an excellent tool for understanding how colours relate to one another. Fear not devotees of colour and those who are colour-shy. Once these elementary principles of colour design are understood, it is much easier to use it to your advantage and narrow down the dizzying array of choices.

Primary colours
Blue, yellow, and red are the three key hues that all other colours are derived from.

Secondary colours
Green, orange, and violet are formed by mixing two primary colours.

Tertiary colours
Orange-yellow, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, and red-orange are tertiary colours that are made by mixing a primary and a secondary colour. This is why they always have a two-part name.

Warm and cool tones
When the colour wheel is divided down the ‘red-violet/violet’ and ‘yellow green/yellow’ axis, the result is warm tones on one side and cool tones on the other. An easy style concept to follow is to select colours from either the warm or cool spectrum. Most already gravitate firmly to one side or the other.

Generally speaking, vibrant landscapes presenting the sunny hues of red, yellow, and orange sizzle with energy, whereas a soothing outdoor space filled with peaceful purples and cool blues evoke a sense of serenity. However, personal taste aside, colour tone also has an influence on perspective. Warm tones come to the forefront of view, seeming closer than they actually are, whereas cool tones recess and appear farther away. Both are noteworthy concepts that may be manipulated to bring out the best in every alfresco environment.

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