How to use tone to create your space Part 1

Going all the way:  Using the full range of the tonal scale is invigorating, energising & balanced. Use where you entertain, work and want to stimulate communication and appetite such as the lounge and kitchen.

Going all the way: Using the full range of the tonal scale is invigorating, energising & balanced. Use where you entertain, work and want to stimulate communication and appetite such as the lounge and kitchen.

Ever considered how tone plays a part in the design of your room? Tone, or the lightness/darkness of objects, plays a significant role in contributing to the feeling and atmosphere of a room.  For most, the tonal range of a space (or how many steps there are between the lightest object and darkest object) is the accidental result of choosing items they love individually, and putting them together in a room; instead of a deliberate design decision. This unplanned approach leaves many wondering why they room doesn't quite feel like they hoped, even though they have all the right looking furniture and decor pieces. Deliberately selecting your room's tonal range as a part of forward planning (think Mood Board) is a key factor to getting exactly the atmosphere you're aiming for. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself when styling your space:
How wide the range? As a general rule of thumb, a wide range of tonal variation (or many steps) is dynamic, balanced and inspires conversation and action.  A short range of tonal variation (or only a few steps) is more relaxed and encourages rest. 
Where on the scale?
High: 
Sitting high on the scale creates a sense of peacefulness. It's airy and clean, but can also be clinical.
Middle:The middle range can be grounded, abundant, fresh and soothing but also dreamy. It depends how many steps are involved.
Low: Getting down into the dark tones can produce masculine, mysterious and cosy spaces. 
Tip: Next time you see a room you love 'read' the tonal range and see what lessons you can take from it.

Check out these great examples of tonal range in action, as each is using tone in a different way. Read the captions to understand what is happening in each image. Which one are you most drawn to? Is it like your own home, or do you need to adjust the tonal range?

Look out for Part 2 where I discuss using colour with tone. Make sure you don't miss it and more Weekly Wisdom tips and tricks by subscribing here.

Light and bright:  A limited use of tone, sitting high on the tonal scale in the white to pale range, creates a sense of peace and calm. Tension releases and you relax. Great for bedrooms, meditation spaces and nurseries.

Light and bright: A limited use of tone, sitting high on the tonal scale in the white to pale range, creates a sense of peace and calm. Tension releases and you relax. Great for bedrooms, meditation spaces and nurseries.

Middle and minor:  A short range of tones sitting around the middle is calm, soothing and dreamy. It doesn't take much to really relax, but conversation will also flow in this space. Use where you want to unwind, chill and chat like the lounge or parent's retreat.

Middle and minor: A short range of tones sitting around the middle is calm, soothing and dreamy. It doesn't take much to really relax, but conversation will also flow in this space. Use where you want to unwind, chill and chat like the lounge or parent's retreat.

Light and punchy:  Whilst glorifying in crisp whites and a deep vivid yellow in the upper end of the tonal scale, this room adds a punch of interest by skipping many tones, then landing with a dark almost black pattern on the cushion.

Light and punchy: Whilst glorifying in crisp whites and a deep vivid yellow in the upper end of the tonal scale, this room adds a punch of interest by skipping many tones, then landing with a dark almost black pattern on the cushion.

Down and dark:  Create a cave like environment using dark tones with limited ranges. Masculine, bold, lush, and striking. Use where you want to feel grounded and safe, like you're getting a hug. Try the library, dining room or if you're bold, the bedroom.

Down and dark: Create a cave like environment using dark tones with limited ranges. Masculine, bold, lush, and striking. Use where you want to feel grounded and safe, like you're getting a hug. Try the library, dining room or if you're bold, the bedroom.