We all perceive colours differently, using colour in interior design doesn’t guarantee everyone sees and feels exactly the same. Certain colours can evoke memories or feelings but it will be different for each of us. Colour affects our mood, our self-esteem, confidence and perception.
Brands use colour to arouse our feelings and to connect with us emotionally. For example, blue is commonly used by banks to represent trust and strength. Companies like Virgin and Coke use red to evoke excitement and boldness. In our homes, we like to use traditional colour, blue in bedrooms to promote calmness and serenity. Yellow for optimism and brightness.
What is the colour wheel?
To give you a potted version, the colour wheel defines the three pure primary colours, blue, red and yellow. Secondary colours are created by mixing two primaries together, e.g. red and blue = purple. The tertiary colours are adjacent to the primary and secondary colours. Complementary colours are opposite on wheel, so for example using warm and cool colours together. Think about it - warm and cool has psychological elements.
White has the psychological effect of being refreshing, invigorating and clean as well creating an airy, pure look and a beautiful shade of grey, in combination with a muted bright white, can create a clean and refreshing appearance. Grey is a wonderful neutral and is now almost more versatile than black and white. Layered grey tones produce a very sophisticated look. Common neutrals are grey, brown, black and white, but can be composed of any colour. For example brown gives us serenity and calmness, think of chocolate, coffee and cake!
For a soft muted look, use understated “dirty” pinks, eau de nil. Luxurious cashmere comes to mind, as well as linen, velvet and silk to create an opulent, expensive look.
Blue is calming, but can be negative, looking cold and isolating with an emotional unavailability. It can create a cool, clear look, good for an atmosphere of work and meditation. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate. Red gives a resonant and stimulating aspect, but the colour often indicates threat, it can increase heart rate and we tend to be a bit afraid of it in interiors, but a warmer shade used in an interior can feel very good. Yellow is perceived as being a bright and optimistic, but the effects vary with nuances, too much is a turn off.
Shades of grey
Grey has been on trend for some time a great neutral background for stronger tones. Try to be more experimental with neutrals, pair them with bold, trendy colours as one or two key accent colours. We’ve moved on from boring minimalist neutrals, changing the boundaries of neutral tones over recent years. People are braver about trying new colours and including them in new neutrals.
We don’t think of blue as neutral, but it is being used now in the same way as grey. Striking in décor or luxurious velvet. The current trend for this dark dramatic look (which works wonderfully well if you have a north facing living) could evolve into deep teal or rich chocolate tones. These tones harmonise well with metallics, tan leather, coppery tones or rose golds.
The current trend for a dark dramatic colours, blues and greens is evolving into deep teal or rich chocolate tones, which look great with soft pinks, olive green or black. Ochre or mustard is a natural progression from all the yellow we have been seeing. Tan, especially leather is still very popular in furniture as well as soft, natural fabrics in open weave textures with large monochrome graphic prints. Metals, copper, brass and gold are great partners for these colours.