Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We-Design-Day: How does colour impact your interior?


Last week we took a good look at foundations of colour. This week, I'd like to share some more important information about colour. We'll look at the psychology of colour, colour perceptions and of course applying colour in interiors.

Psychology of Colour

Colour can be one of the most powerful tools in a designer's kit. It can be used to sell products, make people feel calm, angry or happy. It can impact behaviour in a number of different ways too. The way an individual interprets or feels about a colour can vary according to their experience, cultural associations and education. Often this interpretation is very personal and very individualistic.

Colour very often mean different things to different people depending on what they associate with that colour. Naturally, Western society has different associations then other parts of the world. Let's look at few colour associations here and with in other societies.

Red Battle, blood, fire, passion, love & excitement. Also royalty, majesty & victory. It is bold and makes a noticeable impact and draws attention. Eastern associations include luck, money, happiness and prosperity. One other thing of note, red is also often associated with mourning in different cultures.

Orange Friendliness, pride, ambition, warmth, relaxation. Stimulates the appetite. Eastern associations include strength, purpose and organization.

Yellow Cheerfulness, optimism, safety & spring. Eastern cultures often associate yellow with sacred things and imperialism.

Green Luck, greed, wealth, jealousy, newness, nature. Eastern cultures it can mean newness, life and rebirth. Additionally, it is often linked to fertility.

Blue Masculine, trust, authority, peace, calm & depression. Elsewhere, it is linked to mourning, protection, virtue and liberalism.

Purple/Violet Royalty,wealth, being distinguished, spirituality. It can again represent mourning, death and wealth in other lands.

The psychology of colour is a long studied, continually changing discipline. As mentioned, colours can mean very different things depending on where in the world you are: Red roses are often associated with love here in Canada - elsewhere, they are the flower of choice for funerals. Things like this are important to keep in mind when picking colours and understanding others reactions to them. When you are picking paint for your home, depending on the room and it's use, it truly is one of personal preference. Assuming of course your partner gives you carte blanche!

Colour Associations and Perceptions

When looking to repaint your home, it's important to think of the function of the room and what kind of feeling you wish to invoke. Thinking about how and when the room is used (time of day, who uses it, what the room is used for) will help apply the appropriate colour solution too. The application of muted pastels in hospitals and similar shades in infant nurseries tend to be done for a reason - they create a relaxing environment and help to calm the occupants.

Warm pallets with reds, oranges and yellows can be cheery, active and energizing. This is especially true if the hues are saturated. These colours also appear to advance toward the eye because they seem nearer than they are. A sofa in an intense red colour will generally appear bigger than the same piece in a cool colour. Using warm colours in saturated hues in a space can make the space appear smaller.

Cool pallets with blues, greens and purples can create a soothing feeling. Cool colours are generally thought to recede since they tend to appear farther away then they are. A room often looks much larger when painted in a cool colour.

In both applications, intensity of the hue must be taken into consideration. A bold bright blue can have the same affect as the big red sofa. Additionally, a warm, pale yellow can make the space look larger as the intensity is less thus making it appear (to the eye) to recede.

When selecting paint for your home, office or any other project, it's important to note not only what you think of the colour but also how the colour makes you feel. The larger the swatch of colour, the better... Using a 2"x2" chip to decide the colour of your entire bedroom isn't enough, especially when how we (and others) react to colour is very personal.

Blue Door Interiors Inc. tip of the week:
Always, always view the paint chips in the light that will be used in the room and view the sample at a variety of different times during the day.

For further reading, check out

Benjamin Moore
Dream Home Decorating
Colour Experts at Squidoo


All photos this week are courtesy of Mystical Photography based in Edmonton, Alberta. The pictures were originally taken for promotional literature for a local Benjamin Moore store. Used with permission.

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