Many of us when we decorate our homes, often just go with colours we like together when deciding on a palette, especially when we have moved into a blandly neutral painted new build home, but that bland paintwork hasn’t just been chosen for reasons of cost, but to help you psychologically see your new abode as a “blank canvas” to stamp your own personality on.
Many that have studied the effect of colour on the psychology believe that you can choose to use colours in your home to have a profound effect on the emotional well-being of those living in and visiting your home.
Some of the effects you may already be subconsciously aware of even if you have never before heard of or looked into the psychology of colour – for instance:
- Yellow has long been considered a colour that can promote happiness as it is a bright, cheerful, “sunny” colour – however, studies have shown that although exposure to yellow can improve the mood of a person, over exposure has been shown to cause feelings of irritability and hostility where there is no relief provided by other colours.
- Blue in any shade is considered cooling and relaxing – it can help slow your heartbeat and respiration which add to the calming and relaxing effect. Medium shades of blue can also help small rooms look larger because of how the eyes see the colour blue, it has also been proved that if you use a blue light in your fridge, it can help with weight loss as it can make tempting treats seem less appealing.
- It is no coincidence that many fast food outlets use red in their decoration, colour studies have shown that red encourages us to eat, but also stimulates our “danger” receptors meaning we tend to eat faster – which is just what many of these fast food outlets want us to do, eat and leave as fast as possible to make room for more customers.
So how do you know what colours to use in which room?
The first thing you need to do is work out what the primary use of each room will be, then you can start to decide which colours might have the desired effect in each area.
Living room / Entrance way:
Depending on the size of your entrance way, you may need to make your room look larger in which case you should stay with lighter shades, but the colour families that are good for these areas are thought to be the warm tones, primarily deep reds, yellows, oranges or earthy tones, of browns and biscuits. This is because they are believed to help encourage a sense of connection, and a desire to stay and talk.
Many colour consultants advise that if you have fond childhood memories of spending time in the kitchen, it can be worth using the same colour palette as it will help promote those same feelings that you experienced as a child.
However, if there is no particular colour scheme that you remember, then again, reds and yellows can help make a warm, inviting kitchen, but be careful – as we touched on before, red in particular can be a bad colour if you are trying to keep the pounds off as it stimulates your appetite.
As mentioned before, because of the appetite stimulating properties of red, this can be an amazing colour to use in your dining room, it encourages conversation and those eating in a red dining room may consider you to be a better cook.
Blues have been a fairly traditional colour for bathrooms, because of it bringing to mind the water of rivers and the ocean. Not only are they clean colours, but they are calming too and can often make the “smallest room of the house” appear larger.
Whites and off whites are also popular because of the clean, fresh feeling.
Greens are also good for bathrooms, no, not that nightmare avocado 70’s bathroom suite but clean, crisp shades of green. We associate green with nature and again cleanliness, it can also help calm and soothe.
Green is actually the easiest colour for our eyes to see, which is why it is considered to be so calming.
It is often used in hospitals because of this and the fact it is connected to feelings of security and stability.
It is also a great colour for focusing the mind and helping you to read, relax and concentrate making it ideal for areas of the house where you need to be able to work like a home office or study.
Bedrooms are perhaps the most important room to get right, as many of us struggle to sleep anyhow due to the stresses and strains of modern living.
Neutral colours, purples, blues and greens are all good choices to help make a bedroom a relaxing place to be, and the darker the colour, the more pronounced the relaxation is supposed to be.
You should avoid bright, primary hues like bright reds as they promote increased heart rates and blood pressure preparing the body for activity.
For those of us lucky enough to have the space to dedicate to a home gym or workout space, then from reading all of the above, you may think that red would be the best colour for this area of the house, and although reds and oranges are good to help encourage you to move they can also make you feel hotter and “burnt out” faster.
Colour consultants advise you to think instead of happy colours, maybe mixed with the colours for concentration, like yellow-greens and blue-greens as these will help you to stay motivated without making you feel like you are overheating.
Remember that all of these are a guide, and you should still use your personal tastes when decorating, however, remember that it doesn’t have to be huge swathes of colour, use the stronger colours as accent colours in artwork and soft furnishings if you are nervous about having too much of a good thing.