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The colour purple

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Textural and tonal variation can dramatically alter a home through the application and juxtaposition of materials and light


Colour and texture choices contribute significantly to the feel of a home. When used well, they can influence atmosphere, emphasise high ceilings and create dynamic spaces.

For architect and interior designer Shin Chang, from Y'Shin Architects, imaginative use of colour and texture is a way to create visual impact.

"Different textures can be used to effectively highlight any interesting structural elements of a home. For example, using a textured surface on high ceilings encourages people to look upwards. Bright tones create impact, but should be used sparingly for maximum effect," she says.

When Chang and her colleagues planned this home renovation, colour and texture choices featured high on the owners' priority list. They were fond of purple, as they felt it induced a romantic mood.

"Colour can definitely evoke an emotional response," Chang says.


Purple had to be used carefully so it wouldn't be overpowering.

"If you want to use a bright shade such as purple in your home, then it needs to be balanced. In this case, we suggested it be paired with the complementary colours of orange and light yellow, on a backdrop of neutral tones," Chang says.

Furnishings are mostly neutral, with purple used sparingly for the cushions. Purple also features in the living room rug, and the table place settings.

Use of themed colour needn't be restricted to furnishings. Another way to incorporate tonal and textural variations is through fabrics. In this home, the architect used organza curtains to change the shade of the light filtering into the home. The three semi-transparent layers of organza are in the home's staple colours of purple, orange and light yellow. On a very hot day, all three layers are pulled across the windows so that purple is the predominant shade, and most of the light is reflected. In the cooler mornings, the owners want to see more of the garden, so only the pale yellow organza curtain is used.

"The three layers are very interesting – the owners can play with them to create different effects," Chang says.

Lighting is also a good way to create interesting colour effects. The main living area and foyer feature yellow-tinted light. The living area has coved, yellow lighting, which alters the appearance of the white lamp and white sofas. In the foyer, the bar is lit from within by yellow lights. The front of the bar is very thin marble – when the lights shine through, the veins in the marble can clearly be seen.

Textural effects can be achieved through use of natural materials. One of the most impressive uses of texture in this home is a woven timber mural in the living area.

"You don't have to use artwork to decorate your home – you can create visual interest with texture instead," Chang says.

The mural is made from yellow balau hardwood, arranged in a wave pattern. This mimics the wave pattern created by the organza curtains, so the whole living space becomes very dynamic.

Timber is used throughout the home to create different textural effects. This repetitive use of natural materials is important to create a uniform look, Chang says.

Strips of wood are a recurring theme – the living room ceiling is slatted, the first level floor is wooden planks, and the balustrading is upward-pointing battens.

Rough textures are most effective when balanced by smooth materials, Chang says. This home balances textured materials with a shiny, reflective marble floor. Glass is contrasted with wood, and textured fabrics are combined with shiny fabrics, creating a richly textured environment.

First published date: 23 January 2006

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Credit List

Architect/interior designer Y'Shin Architects (Kuala Lumpur)
Kitchen designer/manufacturer Boffi Malaysia
Cladding Granite by Victor & Mendez
Roof TBF tiles by Saint Gobain Terreal
Window and door joinery AllGlass
Tiling, flooring MML tiles and marble by Modern Avenue
Paints ICI
Lighting Lightcraft
Living room furniture X-tra Living; Abitex Furnishing
Dining room furniture Lava East & Company
Bedroom furniture Armari
Other furniture Budji Living
Bar stools X-tra Living
Wood flooring Burmese teak
Slatted ceiling Yellow balau