The Colour Real

01 Jun

The power of a red wall

By Sylvia O'Brien   This red wall spans three stories of an old converted 19th century Victorian rowhouse in Toronto, Canada. The house has been remodeled at least twice and had very little of it's original character left. This wall colour gives a different character is a statement of current trend but it is also as organic and primal as a cave painting. Red means so many things. Psychologically it means positive energy, passion, power, life force, seduction, excitement, inspiration and motivation. From a societal viewpoint it can mean good luck (China), purity (India) or the colour of mourning (South Africa). In ancient Rome it was the colour of the guardian.


What story does this red tell? This particular red is tempered with an undercurrent of blue and brown. The blue calms it with the intelligence blue brings with it. The brown grounds it, allowing it to make sense in this new / old space. The longest wavelength of all colours, red makes a strong statement... "I am intrepid, bold, and want to be noticed". Never ambivalent, this hue speaks of it's owners – speaks of the people who's backdrop this is. This is a creative space and used for many purposes, academic meeting place, home office space, brainstorming environment, and family home. The rest of the main floor is calm, pale and neutral to create the balance in colour energy that is required for a multi function environment.


On the other levels though you'll find more rooms and areas that speak loudly to the strength of colour. On the top level for example, the red relates to an orange bathroom wall of an open bathroom, as well as greys in other elements. The relationship set up here between the red wall and it's cousin the orange wall is very dynamic. Orange is an extroverted colour and gives the red wall a bit of levity. The dark grey of the original Victorian stair railing and of the sliding door helps ground the experience of the hallway.


Using this red wall to tie this multi-level, multi-functional space together is very dynamic when you are in it. It's presence , as I mentioned, has a primal appeal that I personally just love!


This article was contributed by Sylvia O'Brien, Creative Director of Colour Theory, a Toronto (Canada) based commercial colour & design firm.

Her motto is "Colour...get it right the first time ".

She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through

Photo credit: 2kGrafx

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Color Objects encourages you to get a better eye and appreciation for colors and characters. To get a special selection of pics and info for you, we find designers and artists that make colorful work from all over the world. There's a lot of character in colors, and having a closer look will change your view of the world and people around you. So we share a host of pics and info from design, art, cultures and the natural world. All about colors.

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