Have you ever walked into a room and felt happiness or joy? And then shifted into another space and felt a sense of uneasiness, or dread. Do certain things on the shopping shelf attract you, and other certain things lend you no interest? Do you know what this is the product of? Colour. Whether houses or shopping products in shops – colour makes up for the vast majority of our responses, even if we don’t seem to know it.
Colour Psychology is a term commonly used today to describe the effects of colour on us, be the effects subtle and in-definitive as they may be, though they are there: significant and strong as bold colour can be. Think about it, when you go for a walk late in the afternoon and see the shifting pastel colours of all the green of the trees around you, you feel a certain way? Or the deep red ruddy colour of the soil that took you there? Colours are important to us no matter where we may be, and there’s a reason that we strive to have them so close to us, whether in our home lives or in the businesses we work in.
If you’re not sure about what colours to pick for your home, here we’ll provide ten tips for you:
Try and look at this process as an adventure, as a fun journey you’re going on. You don’t have to begin big, or in very important rooms in your house. You can even have your children try with you, start smaller in less pronounced areas i.e. a small hall, an area between rooms or an accent wall. Pick an area that’s quick to do so you can see your results even quicker. If you’re not happy with the results, you can easily change them.
Which colour do I pick to get started you may ask? That’s easy. Just look around you. Your house will be full of colours you might not have seen, there are colours in your furniture, your rugs and artwork or even your dishes may inspire you to choose a main colour. Again, have fun with the process.
What do you want to feel when you walk into a room?
Different colours are for different rooms. But that’s all up to your palette of course. Do you want your bedroom to feel tranquil and subduing or exciting and stirring? Soft, cool colours and neutrals usually create a quieter feeling while stronger colours are for drama.
How do you want to have dinner? Do you want to come home after a hard day’s work, and have a quieter dinner as you ponder over the trickling pond outside? In this case, you want to paint your dining room cooler colours, like deep blue greens and neutrals which will give you a more formal balance. Or are you the type that likes to entertain; popping champagne bottles and swinging hors d’oeuvres everywhere, in which case you’d like to go for something more electric and stimulating; like brighter colours that contribute to a more social atmosphere. Colours like this are usually warmer, and more contrasting.
How do you want your kids to play, and feel? Do you want to bring more order and peace into their lives? Or do you want to contribute to the little critters being terrifying little livewires? Note of caution though: using colours that are overly bright, and using them too much may contribute to much unrest and irritability in your children’s consciousnesses and minds. You may want to keep it in check.
Ask yourself, what is the most important role this colour will play in this room?
What does the light have to say about it?
The light speaks. It says different things about different colours. If it could, it would say hello to you:
- When you allow, the warm natural daylight to shine on you it will bring out the truest colour.
- Unnatural light, i.e. warming for effect, will bring out warmer tones and yellows.
- This is not about your children dancing in the raves: fluorescent lighting will cast a sharper blue tone.
So, what can we learn from this?
You live in your house all day, and you might not be able to handle it if all your walls or a wall next to a large window were painted with a strong colour (unless you were the mad hatter). But, on the other hand if you would want to draw attention to something then having that colour on an indirect wall like an accent wall, could really prove valuable while you splash a little bit of indirect light on it. Capisce?
Tip: A very handy thing to do is select three swabs of the colour you (think you)) want, one in the middle, one lighter, and one darker. Put them next to a window and a dark corner and look at them during different times of the day and night, then make your decision.
When undertaking a new venture, it invariably helps to understand the terminology:
Here’s what different colour terminology means..
- When referring to a colour i.e. red/blue you would call it a Hue
- Determining how light or dark that colour is, would be called a Value
- If you want to know how dominant the Hue is, you would call that Saturation (going from red to pink the red Hue becomes less dominant)
- Terming, how brilliant the colour is called Intensity. Pure colours such as red are more intense than the combined colours such as yellow-green. A stronger intense colour usually has a more dominant hue.
If you want your space to be busier, think of using colours that are stronger, and more intense. This will even work if you want a real light coloured room; you should choose to use colours that are more saturated than off-white or light pastel. If you are going to use a very light colour on each and every surface in a room, its inevitably bound to feel bright and stark. When using two or more medium-light closely related pastel colours you will get a luminous effect.
See what colour works for you?
There are many ways to test your colour zone, you could grab different kinds of boards, perhaps go to that back wall of your house that you never use? You could even perhaps paint your partners car? Bring your wild ideas out? Otherwise you’ll never know what’s for you or not. You could splash-dab brilliant and vivid colours like cherry red or ice-blue, or you could go a softer tone for say, ivory, chocolate or taupe as your main or accent colours. If you want to add a sense of drama in the room, you could paint a stronger colour on the ceiling. Another nifty trick is to tint the ceiling; this dramatically changes the whole look of a room.
The decoration of life!
You feel that a wall is too boring, lifeless or flat? You can easily spring it back up, with interesting decorations that would make Spring smile. Sometimes it’s just breaking the colour, and other times it’s something a little less subtle like adding some visual incarnations. To add some colour you could incorporate techniques like colour washing, rag rolling or sponging. For visual incarnations you could use techniques like burnished mineral or metal finishes, or layered colour glass. Some examples of softly reflective metals are mica, copper, pewter, bronze and, of course, antiqued silver and gold.
Flow like a river..
Imagine your house was like on big piece of artwork, it would be important for one colour to compliment the next would it not? And for all the colours to be in synergy. This is what you want to do. You want to stand in one room, and imagine the colours you are going to use on the walls, then move into the next room and imagine the colours you are going to use in there? You want to make sure that all the colours create a harmony, and that there is a continued flow throughout the house.
Tip: You may even use one or two colours throughout the whole house, and then just throw in a few additional accent colours; this way you get great continuity but allow the different rooms to retain their different personalities, respectively.
The relationship between colour and decorative elements.
Colour can do interesting things; it’s more effective than we think. In this way, it has great effect on special perception of its surroundings and the as well to the balance it brings to the pieces of artwork therein.
For instance, if you want a room to appear smaller, you paint it up with cooler colours. If you want a room to appear larger, you paint it with brighter, warmer colours. Balance is also another important element of colour, a coolly coloured room would not hold a bombastic, bold centre piece of art well.
Let the colour wheel guide you..
How do you know which colours work together or not? On a grand scale you want your colours to work together like the different peaks of a mountain in a mountain range picture. This is not always easy for an amateur. A great way to test your palate, and get your knowledge going is a colour wheel. This will easily lend you it’s knowledge as to which colours go together and to which do not. Walk through the house and have fun with it. Imagining blue line upon blue and red upon red. This is also great for discovering which colours you like and which you do not.
Tip: you can choose the colour combinations at your discretion, but there are a few that generally work best.
- Blue and white or yellow and green looks dazzling in a kitchen.
- Red and black creates a very formal dining room experience.
- If you’re the Guru, the type to have a library, chocolate brown and camel or dark green and navy blue go well together.
- Some extra snippets: burgundy and khaki, navy and khaki, or dark green and khaki look enticing together. Otherwise greys and blues always look great together like dashing prince and princess in ballroom apparel.
Singular can be boring?
Are you looking at your walls and trims, and thinking that one colour is too one dimensional? There are two options here:
- You could create play in one colour group by painting up different variations of a colour in that colour family, or
- You could use different tricks or techniques in one colour group ie different finishes..
To compliment your main colours you can throw in accent colours. More towards reds to be warmer, more towards blues to be cooler. If you want to be louder, make sure your colours are on the brighter side. If you want a bit of a quieter tone, make sure things are on the duller side. For instance, you could use white or off-white on a trim to create a wonderful accent when playing with a monochromatic theme.
Let the shine speak for itself.
Just the same way your Mom spun you different versions of different stories in the world when growing up, so you’d be surprised how many things can have a different look just by adding a different spin on them. Let’s say, you’d walk into one room and see the paint on the walls is one colour, but the trims are looking a different colour? Upon closer inspection you see that they’re both the same colour. It might be that you used a more, matte and less reflective look on the walls, but a more shiny and glossy finish on the trims? Giving them alternate significance and meanings, but letting them remain both perfectly cohesive.
A quiet word about bold colours
Bold colours are very attractive. They are often the flavour of the season. The trick is to reckon whether you can look at that bold colour every day, all day? You will most likely grow tired of that busy space. If you want to incorporate a really strong colour like that, you might want to think of using it as an accent colour.
This does not mean that a neutral colour scheme is always mandatory, and appropriate. It depends on the house, the location, the architecture, and the personality of the homeowner. It’s about trying to keep a balance. An entire neutral house can be boring.
Some of this advice may seem daunting, ultimately you should follow your heart. If you love a colour and have tested it in the right place you should use it.