Your rooms and interiors reflect your personality and can even impact your life

As an interior designer, when I see a star advertising bright feature walls with arty paint effects that set the scene for a romantic encounter, I heartily wish companies would focus more on educating clients rather than just marketing products.

Let us take the sets or homes of these shots. The rooms are spacious and well-lit, and the furniture has clean lines and neutral shades, mostly white. Reality check: how many homes in metros have the luxury of so much space or the abundance of so much natural light? And white couches in an Indian home? You must be kidding! Home-makers will curse the designer, as they will spend more time cleaning the couch than enjoying it.

A home is a reflection of its residents. We are unique, with a unique personality. Our auras absorb and emit energies that depend on the chakras in our body. Each chakra draws a certain colour energy, which has a huge influence on our overall mood and psychological responses. Ever wondered why many restaurants have red walls? It is known to increase apetite. Why is the image of a beach so relaxing for many of us? Because blue calms us down.

Colour character

Colours have different impacts depending on the type of light falling on them, which is a combination of natural, ambient or task light. The same shade of blue or red looks very different when viewed under different lights.

Colours also have temperatures — the red to yellow spectrum exudes warmth while blues exude coolness. Tints (hue + white), tones (hue + gray) and shades (hue+black) of every colour have individual properties.  The lighter the colours on one’s walls, the more spacious the room feels. Again, the choice of tints, whether from the warm or cool palette, needs to be considered keeping in mind the type of lighting within the space. Colours have a sense of movement too; warmer colours move towards an observer and cooler ones move away.

Paint is one of the most important finishes, the most restricting one actually. A room set to a neutral tone, with colours coming in from a choice of soft furnishings, art, furniture, plants and lighting makes the space dynamic. Understanding paint as a finish is very helpful in making informed decisions. Interiors paints come as latex and oil-based. Here’s a basic-break up for easy understanding.

Flat or matte paints

Conceal imperfections

Are non-reflective with a uniform smooth finish

Work well even if putty is not sanded well

Porous, hard to clean

Best used for dry walls

Satin or eggshell paints

Low lustre, but higher sheen compared to flat paints

Enhance the warm look and feel, and add depth to rooms

Easier to clean and can be used anywhere in the home

Semi-gloss paints

Easiest to clean and very durable

Best used in kids rooms, kitchens and bathrooms

Gloss paints

Most durable and highly abrasion-resistant

Very shiny and highlight all imperfections

Avoid using on sunlit walls as they are highly reflective

Latex or water-based paints are durable, fast-drying, low on odour, easily applied and can be cleaned with soap and water. They tend to resist yellowing more than oil-based paints. They are fungus resistant and so can be used in areas where moisture content is higher.

High quality oil paints are hardier and have better scratch resistance. They are glossier and last longer. They are applied smoother on walls, but they have a strong odour, take longer to dry, and need thinners to clean up. Paint sheens, an indicator of the level of glossiness, are available as flat/matte, satin/eggshell, semi-gloss, and gloss. Here’s a look at how to use them.

Special effects

There are five main painted effects; combing, sponging, stencilling, colour wash and trompe l'oeil.  

As a designer, I am against strong accent colours and paint effects for homes, unless the space is huge. Lighter tints give a feeling of space and flow. Having one accent wall in each room that is a shade or two deeper can give the room depth but having too many colours can be tricky unless handled with care. Vibrant walls also have another huge disadvantage — one scratch and you have to repaint the entire wall. Every coat increases the richness and defects just stand out.

The writer is a Chennai-based interior designer who runs Edge Design House, a retail solutions practice. Mail her at