We all respond emotionally to colour, whether we’re aware of it or not, which is why it can be such a powerful tool in interior design. Rebecca Wade speaks to colour specialist Andrea Curtis about how to use colour psychology in the home.
The power of colour in interiors is something that often slips under the radar when it comes to redecorating the home, largely because so many of us have a propensity to stick stubbornly to classic beiges and safe neutrals. It’s true, opting for vibrant shades can seem like a bold move, whilst paler tones almost guarantee a refined and sophisticated result. Yet, done right, employing the perfect colour scheme can elevate a space, giving it both an aesthetic and atmospheric update.
It’s important to remember that different shades convey different moods in the home. Whilst our psychological response to these colours might be subconscious, they act as a universal visual language, communicating a diverse array of feelings from upbeat, positive energy to relaxed, serenity. So, when designing your living space, the trick is to accentuate colours that reflect your personality and contribute to an ambience which fits the purpose of the room.
We caught up with interior designer and colour consultant Andrea Curtis to learn more about how to pick the perfect shade for our space.
‘Colour is one of the most fundamental elements of interior design. It has an immediate impact on how we feel in a space. It is a dynamic element which constantly changes in relation to other colours. So, although colours have individual psychological properties, their overall psychological effect on us or the environment depends on the tone that is used as well as the other colours around them.’
‘Go for neutrals if you’re after a calm scheme that is not psychologically challenging. Warm whites, creams or greys will provide this feeling and can be used across any room in the house. They create a great backdrop, however adding small accents of colour will ground a neutral colour scheme and prevent it from feeling too bland.’
‘Red is an passionate and energetic warm colour traditionally used in social spaces, such as pubs, as it creates a friendly ambience ideal for eating and drinking. Similarly, at home, it would work well in a room intended for socialising. Be careful to select the perfect tone of red: darker shades have more longevity whilst lighter tones are best used as accents as these can feel aggressive or claustrophobic in large quantities.’
‘Pinks have the warmth of red but feel more feminine and nurturing. The whiter the shade, the more it soothes whereas shocking pink will stimulate. Pink always looks great with green but for a touch of masculinity, pair yours with very dark greys that have a hint of blue’
‘Green is the colour of balance, harmony and refreshment. Reminiscent of the natural world, it reassures us on a primitive level. Rich shades, like emerald green, exude the lushness of the rainforest and create a luxurious, elegant aesthetic. Meanwhile paler tones connote renewal and rejuvenation making them appropriate for restful spaces such as the bedroom.’
‘Blue is serene and mentally soothing which allows it to work well in most rooms. For social spaces, energise the shade with a touch of orange or yellow. Alternatively, use different blues together to create a relaxed, tranquil energy.’
‘This sunshine shade is the colour of optimism and joy. It’s a stimulant and if you’re someone who is drawn to natural light you will love it. As a colour born to lift spirits, it’s perfect for dynamic spaces like open-plan kitchen-diners. However, if you’re looking to employ this in the bedroom, integrate some blueish greys to calm that high-energy.’
‘Black and white together can be visually striking. Black exudes sophistication, glamour and security if used correctly whilst white suggests purity, cleanliness and simplicity. To stop a black and white scheme feeling too harsh, try softening the space with textures from natural materials like marble or concrete.’
Andrea Curtis is a specialist in applied colour psychology who runs colour workshops in Wales, UK.