Recently, I had the absolute pleasure of listening to a talk on colour theory from Amy and Athina from Topology Interiors. They are a dynamic duo within the interiors world, running workshops, their online interiors business, and writing an award-winning blog (where do they find the time?) They have also featured in both newspapers and magazines, and bring affordable home décor tips to the masses through their Instagram account which boasts over 14,000 followers.
Their guide to colour psychology was both enjoyable and informative, and I’m here to relay it to you, in my own words. I’ll talk through the ways in which colour can evoke different feelings and emotions within us and how/where to use them in the home. Then read on for their tips on how to create spaces that aid our concentration, and boost creativity and energy levels.
Colour psychology refers to the psychological response we give to colour. Some will make you feel positive, and others will have the opposite effect. According to research, there are four primary colours to consider – red, blue, yellow and green, but all colour impacts our mood and emotions. Let’s find out how.
Look at the rooms below, and make a note of how they make you feel before reading the write-up underneath.
Red is extremely impactful, and the first colour the eye sees. It is a good choice for dining rooms, as it has been shown to increase appetite (this may explain why it features within many fast food chain logos,) and to raise the energy within a room. It can also bring people together and encourage conversation.
It can be over-stimulating, however, so is not an ideal choice for a bedroom or lounge, where you primarily go to rest. Bright tones, such as crimson can also evoke feelings of anger and hostility, and possibly cause headaches.
Blue is said to slow your heart rate, bring down your blood pressure, and relax you. It is associated with trust, loyalty and confidence. It is recommended for bedrooms, and home offices as it reduces stress and promotes intellectual thought. Warmer blues have the most soothing effect, as some cooler toned blues can feel chilly and unwelcoming.
This happy colour is thought to be both energising and uplifting. It encourages creative thinking, and creates a welcoming atmosphere.
It can also spark anger and frustration, so careful consideration should be used when applying in large quantities. I have a wall of yellow metro tiles in my bathroom, and personally I feel it creates a sense of optimism and positivity, and works well combined with more neutral shades.
Green is considered to be the most restful colour of all. It is the perfect choice for almost any room in the home, but especially living rooms and bedrooms where sleep and rest are paramount. Earthy tones, such as olive green are the colours of nature which promote feelings of peace. Some lighter shades of green are believed to help with fertility and emotional healing.
Now for some secondary and tertiary colours.
In 2012, an orange hue, named ‘Tangerine Tango’ was Pantone’s colour of the year,and was a slightly controversial choice. A bright orange represents playfulness, enthusiasm, success and joy. It’s a great colour for a child’s bedroom or any space where you want to feel motivated, such as a home gym, or entrance-way. Softer shades of orange, such as peach or rust may feel more restful.
A very popular hue at the moment, pink is making a big comeback in interiors. I have to confess, I have a soft spot for pink. You can forget memories of your Granny’s frilly candyfloss-coloured curtains, or busy floral pink tablecloths however, as the plaster pinks and soft rose shades that are popular now are sophisticated as well as playful and nurturing. It is also a very versatile colour, that works alongside many others. Black is the perfect complimentary colour and will counteract its femininity.
Some hues of pink, however can cause agitation, especially the brighter and deeper shades.
Deep purple is the colour of royalty, and is dramatic and rich. It can give a scheme depth, and used correctly can make your home feel luxurious. Lighter shades such as lavender are restful, playful and timeless, but can be insipid if not broken up with accents of black and white.
Grey has been a popular choice in recent times. Grey walls can have a subtle elegance to them, and give a space a serene feel. However, too much of the same shade can make a room feel dull and boring, and also reduce our energy levels. You can combat this by adding a complimentary accent colour, such as pink, yellow or orange.
This is my favourite colour to decorate with. A classic neutral – white walls make me feel refreshed, and a room bright and clean. For some it can seem stark and unwelcoming, and this is a good example of how colour affects us all differently. If it makes you feel this way, use it sparingly, or break it up with texture or splashes of colour.
Painting walls black can add depth and elegance to a room, but, as it is a colour associated with death and mourning, it can also feel dark and oppressive. You can add texture, lighter coloured accessories and metallics to combat this. I prefer to use black in small amounts to ‘ground’ a scheme.
Brown adds stability, warmth and earthiness to a space. The current Dulux ‘Colour of the Year’ is a warm brown, similar to wood, called Spiced Honey. It is perfect paired with a pale pink.
Here is a colour wheel which succinctly shows the colours and corresponding emotional triggers.
Nowadays, where mental health issues are commonplace (1 in 4 people are believed to suffer with anxiety), and our busy lives can feel stressful, it is more important than ever to create a home that nurtures us, and gives a sense of calm.
The ladies from Topology interiors had some fantastic ideas about how to increase our levels of concentration, creativity and energy at home. Here are their tips:
If you work from home, and find yourself being regularly distracted, put these things into place, and you might find your concentration levels increasing.
1 Minimise sound distractions by setting yourself up in a quiet area, such as a spare bedroom.
2 The colour red in small amounts aids concentration. A red pen, vase or coffee cup on your desk can sharpen your focus.
3 Plants boost productivity. Invest in a houseplant, or some botanical artwork. A study by The Royal College of Agriculture showed that 70% of students were more productive when surrounded by greenery.
4 Blue is a great colour for a home office as it gives you clarity of thought and promotes intellectual thinking. Consider having at least one blue wall in your workspace.
5 Studies have shown that environments with curvy furniture evoke positive emotions, such as relaxation, happiness and hope. Try bringing curved objects into your home, such as an ergonomic chair or desk.
6 Exposure to natural light makes us 18% more productive. If possible, position your desk or yourself and laptop under a large window. If this isn’t achievable, place a large mirror on the wall near to where you work to reflect light.
If your job or hobby requires you to be creative, consider these ideas.
1 Primary colours aid creativity, so place artwork, like the one below by Henri Matisse within your sight line. You could even put it onto your laptop/computer background if you’d rather not hang on the wall to the same effect.
2 Mood lighting will help stimulate the creative part of the brain. Instead of one overhead pendant, create pools of light around the room. Abigail Ahern suggests you need at least eight light sources in any room, and this can be achieved through task and ambient lighting sources such as desk and floor lamps.
3 Try to face your desk away from the wall, where you have very little to look at (apparently this is bad ‘feng shui.’) Again, near a window is ideal where you can get a inspiring view of nature and greenery.
4 White is considered to dampen creative thought as it can be monotonous. Avoid white, and instead use colours such as green, blue, red or yellow.
If you find yourself suffering with low energy and moments of lethargy when at home, you can make some small but impactful changes.
1 Do you make the bed in the morning? Studies have shown that making your bed boosts energy levels.
2 Angular shapes such as triangles, cones and pyramids energise us. Incorporate these into your home on wallpaper, tiles, cushions or murals.
3 Orange is the colour of energy, excitement and vitality. Try adding an orange sofa or throw to your room. Or if you’re feeling brave, paint a wall or two in this bright, happy shade to uplift you.
4 Lighting is key for a mental health boost. A lack of natural light is known to reduce sleep quality, energy and social relations. In a dark space with little natural light, add halogen bulbs which simulate daylight.
5 Hang artwork which contains a form of kinetic energy. A tree blowing in the wind, ballet dancers or a staircase will subconsciously make you think of movement.
I liased with a few ladies via Instagram, who place the utmost importance on creating a cocooning environment within their home. Here are their thoughts on how they achieve this:
Mim @makingoverthemimsion – My mood can fluctuate a lot, and I definitely find a white backdrop with natural colours and textures, such as green and wood, really helps maintain a level of calm at home. I’m driven by emotion and tend to be reactive and I think I’d find a lot of colour or busyness in my home overstimulating.
Gemma @caffeineandcacti – The use of colour is one of the most important things to consider when decorating and designing a space. It’s proven that colours can instantly affect our mood and I wholeheartedly agree. Light, subtle colours work well for me, and I find myself particularly drawn to dusky blush pinks. Pink is said to promote love, playfulness and kindness and also calm the nerves,which is important for me as I suffer with anxiety. I wanted to create a home which encourages feelings of restfulness, and provides a sanctuary for me. I feel I have definitely achieved that.
Sarah @seventytwohome – Interior design has always been a huge passion of mine, and I’ve loved decorating my home in a soft, light and muted palette, using shades of grey, pink and white. Due to ill health, I spend the majority of my time at home, and need a cosy, comfortable atmosphere which calms my senses, as these can be hyper-sensitive. The soft tones in the decor, along with the addition of home comforts, such as candles, and wax melts, which soothe my sense of smell and evoke happy memories; positively impact my well-being. I also like to keep spaces clutter-free, which clears my mind, and gives me a home to be proud of.
I hope you have all found these hints and tips as useful as I did, and that you have enjoyed reading this post. Feel free to leave a comment below.
Until next time,