The field of colour psychology has been around for decades. We know that colour and emotion are connected, but how?
Feeling blue… Looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses… We express ourselves through colour. Scientists, artists, decorators and more have worked endlessly to figure out why colours impact people the way they do.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by rows and rows of paint chips, check out these colour guidelines. We’ll help you narrow down the best colours for your walls, furnishings and more. But ultimately, only you will know for sure what shades truly suit you.
The colour spectrum
Experts have broken down the seven colours of the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet — into two major groups: warm and cool. This is a good starting point when choosing a colour palette for your home.
The warm colours
Warm colours are those in the red, orange and yellow families. They are most often associated with images of heat (think sunshine and fire), as well as creativity and intimacy.
Red — This bold, powerful colour is thought to increase heart rate while fueling energy and passion. Shades of red are ideal for the dining room. Burgundy and pink are gentler variations of red.
Orange — This vibrant hue is less dramatic than red and evokes a friendly (rather than sexy) vibe. Consider orange for kids’ bedrooms or the family room. Tone it down with salmon, coral or peach.
Yellow — Playful yellow is a great attention-grabber, but it should be used with caution — or in small doses. Too-bright yellow is thought to cause anxiety, and yellows that are too pale may look “institutional.” Pair pretty yellow with pale blue for a vintage look, but make sure you test all yellows with your interior lighting.
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The cool colours
Cool colours remind us of the great outdoors: blues (the ocean and sky), greens (forests and pastures) and violets (mountains and storms). Designers use cool tones in rooms that receive a lot of sunlight, giving the space balance.
Blue — Your blue options are endless — and most are soothing, tranquil and peaceful, making them the perfect choice for bedrooms, libraries or other sanctuaries. Decorators and color experts recommend keeping blue out of kitchens and dining rooms because it’s believed to suppress appetite!
Green — Think nature, think green. Soothing pale greens are often found in schools and hospitals. Earthy greens are popular for home decorating. Dark forest greens are rich and masculine.
Purple — Research over the years has shown that purple appeals more to children than to adults. Pale violets are suitable for bathrooms, while more vibrant shades should be reserved for children’s rooms or play areas.
More colour advice for home decorating
Painting tips for your home
Use colour to brighten your home
What is colour therapy?
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