Friday, 19 September 2014


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Choice of colour had not been a problem for one’s own house before fifties of the last century for majority of the house builders. Lime, Yellow Ochre, Mulatanimitti (Red Earth) had been the natural choice.White was predominant. The colours were used in decoration at the entrance, pooja enclosure and main living room (padasale or hall). They were dictated by culture, tradition and availability of the natural colouring materials in the area. Only the very rich thought of varying the colours in their mansions. The last two decades of the last century saw a rapid growth in the middle class population. In many of these house holds both husband and wife are highly educated and exposed to ad-blitz through media. 

Many of the households have double income. There is greater amount of disposable income. The house is no longer considered as a roof over the head but a symbol of status and an environment, for stylish living. Commercial banks entry into retail financing in housing, easy installment plans and the Credit Card Culture have also helped in conspicuous spending. Interiors are now gaining more attention. Earlier the expenditure on interiors used to be below 10 to 12% of construction cost. Now they have grown to 40 to 50%. Interiors have become more colourful and lavish. The Paint industry has come up with number of types of paints in variety of shades. A fallout of the hype and competition in Research on colours and their effect on individuals has attracted increased attention.Nowadays a large number of shades are available in the market. Colour has an influence on our visual perception and also on our moods. It is becoming difficult for an ordinary house builder to choose from such a wide choice. 
When making colour selection, it is necessary to consider all the surfaces of the room as a whole, that is one should consider, colour of the floor or carpet, walls, curtains and furniture.  They together act on the sensory perception of the individual. The illusion of size and shape of a room can be manipulated by choosing a proper combination of colours can be used to express the person’s individuality. It also can be used to influence to certain extent the mood of a person. Earlier, we used to retire early because of the manual exertion such as walking, drawing water from the well during the course of the work. The advent of electricity and the advancement in lighting science now extends the day light hours beyond nightfall.The period of visual stimulation has expanded from 8 to 10 hours to 16 hours in cities. Therefore, a lot of research is being conducted on the effects of colour on human beings.According to new research findings, colours have a profound effect on our physiological and psychological selves. A study has established that even a blind person can sense colours and react accordingly. Dermo-optic vision or bio-introscopy as this vision is known, helps people recognize colours and shapes.

Some colours are considered warm and some others cool. Those colours, which have red or yellow as a base are considered warm. Others, which have blue or green are considered cool. Cool colours appear to recede, adding depth to a room. Warm colours seem to advance and make space feel more closed in. Dark colours on the ceiling give a feeling of reduced height to the room while light coloured ceiling will create an illusion of added height. Lighcolours reflect and give a feeling of refreshness. If the intention is to unify the room use colours of same hue for walls, furniture and furnishings. If the intention is to focus interest, use different colours with contrast. You can choose the colours so as to create, a) Happy, Bright and Cheerful, b) Natural, Open and Airy, c) Sleek, Sophisticated and Stark, or d) Simple, Clean and Restful ambience.

It is wise not to go in for expensive colour scheme. In the Indian context, it is desirable to get painting done once in 3 to 4 years. You will recall that in olden days it was a custom to do white and Colour wash of a house either before Ugadi or before Deepavali every year. Besides giving a fresh look, it used to remove dust settled on walls, remove spiders web, lizards and small household vermin. Cement based paint for the exterior and distempers for the interior should be a wise selection.

Vaastu also has many things to say about colours and their effects on human beings. White is the colour of Sun God. Blue is colour of Saturn, mentally soothing and physically cooling.Green is the colour of mercury.It is for general wellbeing. It lowers hypertension. Red is the colour of Mars.It raises passion, speeds up heartbeat, recommended for the warrior class. Black or gray should be avoided, as it is associated with Yama. It will induce worry and pessimism.

According to scientific research, colours work on the human system as under
Blue has the effect of soothing nerves, lowering blood pressure and palpitation. Blue helps in treating ulcers, disorders related to back pain. Blue also helps treating tumor and cancer. The colour has been used by many psychologists in treating psychological problems, such as addictions, digestive disorders, impotency and depression. According to an observation when the colour of the London Bridge was changed from black to blue, the number of suicide rates came down by 50%. The colour is also recommended to those students pursuing serious studies, which require a degree of concentration. In parts of South India it is believed to be mosquito repellent.

Green has a soothing effect on the mind. It induces relaxation and is used to treat cases of depression, anxiety, nervousness.

Yellow has great energizing quality and can be used to treat depression. It improves appetite and memory. Yellow is not recommended for rooms where negotiations take place.

Violet has been found to induce peace and balance. It has been used to treat people suffering from migraine.

Black, in lighter shades would boost self-confidence. But dark colours may induce boredom, depression and sadness. Dark shade is associated with negativity.

Red colour has been found to induce hyphenated / short bursts of excitement. It stimulates heart activity, brain, respiration and blood pressure. The colour supplies short bursts of energetic thinking and has been used in sports activities.The colour is recommended by some for those suffering from paralysis, constipation,bladder infections and some skin disorders. Red is not recommended where meetings try to achieve consensus as it is found to induce an aggressive attitude.

Purple is associated with low key affairs and gray is mild and indecisive.

Paint is made from basic ingredients - a colouring agent or pigment to provide colour; resin or binder to bond the paint into a protective skin; and solvent which keeps it liquid until you brush it on after which it evaporates as the paint dries. Additionally other ingredients can be added such as preservatives and fungicides.

All paints being sold in the Indian Market are not safe. Many of them contain toxic materials. If you are health conscious and an environmental buff you should choose the paints carefully. For colouring rooms reserved for children, pregnant women and convalescing persons, you should be extra careful. Some paint materials are known to cause allergics and some other, serious illness. However choosing a safe paint is not easy in India because there are no statutory regulations and many paint manufacturers do not fully declare all the ingredients contained in them. In some advanced countries paints carry environment safety label when they conform to it.

Generally speaking water based paints are environmentally preferable to enamel or polyurethane paints. Water based paints have improved dramatically in recent years and are suitable for most applications.

There are many different types of natural paints available and a suitable product can be found for most applications. Two examples used for centuries are lime washes and silicate paints.One is familiar with lime washes. Repainting homes is required more frequently than for conventional paints. Silicate paints are based on potassium silicate and they react with the mineral substrate that is painted. This causes the paint to become part of the surface, rather than forming a film over the top of it. This type of paint is very durable and has given effective protection for over a hundred years.

Natural timber can be finished with oil, as an alternative to polyurethane. This will protect the timber while allowing it to breathe. The oil is absorbed into the wood, sealing the pores and stopping water from penetrating. Oils can also harden the wood and give some protection from UV damage.

One should be careful with paints, which contain metallic oxides. It is better they are avoided. Substances that are prohibited (except for impurities of no more than 0.1%) include mercury, arsenic or selenium or their compounds, chromium or antimony. The paint must not contain any confirmed human carcinogens(cancer causing) or formaldehyde, and must not contain ethylene glycol as an integral part of the paint formulation. Hydrocarbon solvents and aromatics are to be limited at certain levels.

The paint containers must also contain information about inflammability, disposal and cleaning methods.
An individual who cares how he spends the money and how he can use it for the family’s well being will do well to take note of the influence the colours exert on one’s daily life as revealed by the recent advances in research in this particular field and accordingly decide the colour scheme of the different spaces of his house. The aim should be to harmonize the home environment with family’s personality and healthy living.

Before purchase of paint it is better if the purchaser gets the answer to the following 3 questions, Viz.,
1. Is the product free of all poisons? (For paints used indoors no compromise should be  made.)
2. Are the raw materials used as binders and solvents renewable? Paints and lacquers generally consist of up to 65% of solvents and binders (including water). Examples of raw materials, which fulfill this requirement, are resins from trees and oils from plants.
3. Is the product solvent free? For ceilings and walls only solvent free (water as solvent) paints should be used. For other applications products with less than 30% should be used.


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