December 22, 2022 | Updated: March 24, 2023
Seeing red, feeling blue, being in the pink; the English language is filled with popular idioms that reference colours describing moods and well-being. That’s no accident, as colours are closely related to our emotional state. Colour psychology is the term used to describe the connections between mood and colour. This article provides simple advice and tips on how you can exploit colour psychology in the home.
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Colour psychology is a science in its own right, as well as a separate branch of design. It is also a verifiable phenomenon. For anyone who has any doubts about the importance of colour to our perception of space, think of your favourite room. The odds are you are conjuring up a colour in your mind’s eye since the world is perceived in colours. That, perhaps, explains why our culture is saturated with references and anecdotes relating to colour.
Colours come about through the wavelengths at which light travels through space that are visible to the human eye. Our perceptions and the psychological associations of colour, however, relate to deeply rooted survival mechanisms. This was closely connected to the natural world surrounding our ancestors and how they navigated through its very real dangers.
In marketing and advertisement, colour psychology is highly prized for its importance in influencing perceptions. Artists have exploited colour since the first cave paintings. Therefore, architecture and interior design, as the ultimate art form which is 360° surround, represents the ultimate expression of colour.
Interior design is no different from other visual arts where colour is exploited for its potential to influence our brains and the perception of our surroundings. In this regard, we will see a lot more colour used in our homes over the next few years. After every period of societal upheaval, designers revert to colour to restore equilibrium. So expect to be dazzled and seduced by colour in the months ahead. Get a head start with our recommendations about how best to incorporate colour around the home.
Design professionals use the colour wheel or swatch as a tool when choosing hues that work together or contrast with one another.
Notice how many different tints (adding white to pure colour), shades (adding black to a pure colour) and tones (adding grey to pure colour) there are. Value and saturation are also important to achieve the subtleties of a successful interior design project.
The following descriptions represent a broad overview of the colour psychology characteristics associated with the most popular colours used within our interiors. We have also included the most appropriate rooms in the home for each colour.
Blue is associated with feelings of calm and peace. It inspires confidence. There is a wide variety of hues that ensure that blue is a varied and rich colour choice for luxurious and chic interiors. Blue has an added value that marks it out from different colours, it has almost universal appeal, perhaps explained by its ubiquity in nature.
Blue is recommended for bedrooms and bathrooms, anywhere where a calming and relaxed atmosphere is required. However, we recommend grey-blue and light teal shades for living rooms with added warmth.
▶ Browse online the many shades of blue tiles, including patterned, mosaic, glass tiles and more.
More than any other colour in the spectrum red is associated with energy, vigour and strength. Red is not for the faint-hearted. This is a colour that must be handled with care when it comes to interior design. Red is great for accents, pops of colour to liven up an otherwise neutral palette and smaller spaces.
Red works beautifully in areas where greater concentration is required. Home offices and study areas, or libraries are the ideal spots for a red décor.
Green is a base colour, one of the colours that are mixed with blue and yellow to create all other colours. It has an organic quality that is associated with healing, security and togetherness. It is closely associated with Mother Nature and is, therefore, a colour that we associate today with ecological awareness, well-being and sustainability.
Green can be made to work in any room. However we recommend green for the hallway, and entrance areas, darker shades of green make a statement. Lighter shades make an excellent setting for children’s bedrooms and play areas. And of course, green can be earthy and soothing as a bathroom colour, especially for larger bathrooms where different shades can help define different functions.
Purple is unusual in that it mixes cool and warm tones (red and blue makes purple) which depending on your preference can be adapted to suit the desired décor. The colour doesn’t appear naturally to a great extent. The shade mauve was man-made in the 1800s and caused a sensation with the Victorians.
We recommend you feature purple in a hallway or a stairwell to make a good impression. It’s also appropriate for dressing areas and landings which are areas of transit rather than areas where we spend much time. Purple must be handled with kid gloves.
If ever there was a colour pick-me-up that has to be yellow. Yellow is pure sunshine, optimism and energy. Don’t be put off by yellow! It’s had a bad rap in décor through the years. There is a yellow for everyone, the colour can be softened or made more vibrant through saturation and tint.
We recommend yellow in the kitchen and the bathroom primarily. The good vibes and positive emotions of yellow are a great way to start the day, morning ablutions followed by breakfast in a sunny and bright setting.
Orange has the capacity to provoke creativity. Like the vitamin C from the eponymous fruit, orange is an injection of energy and compensates for spaces lacking in natural light. To get the best from orange however you need to combine it with other colours, adjacent colours like red and yellow will provide the perfect compliment /accent.
Use orange anywhere that you would use yellow, like kitchens and bathrooms, its cheerful energy makes even a drab day a little lighter.
Pink is another colour that has acquired a tainted reputation in popular culture. Nevertheless, it was the go-to colour for American prisons for decades thanks to its calming qualities. Pink glows and adds an inviting warmth when used on walls or furniture upholstery.
Make pink a central colour in living room décor, it’s a surprisingly versatile shade that is perceived as welcoming, cheerful and comforting. These are precisely the qualities that the room should transmit.
Black is not, strictly speaking, a colour at all. Furthermore black needs to be treated with extra special care in home décor. Black is however a powerful choice as a non-colour, it can radically transform rooms. Black is chic and sophisticated but must be combined with other colours to be perceived because black absorbs light rather than reflecting it like other conventional colours.
We recommend black in kitchens, bathrooms and hallways – always combined with white, grey or other more vibrant colours.
▶ For more information, please visit your nearest store, where our advisors will be happy to assist you. You can also browse our selection of products in our online shop.