By Babette Bischoff-Papasavvas
Now more than ever before, and particularly during these colder and darker winter days, we need as much of a positive mental boost as we can get. But there is good news… the answer is right in front of you, in your home.
When it comes to our homes, there is nothing with a more powerful, transformative effect than colour. Colour can turn where we live from the place we go back to at the end of the day into a supportive, comfortable haven that expresses and reflects who we truly are.
It communicates feeling, creates a mood, affects our energy, our appetites, our sleep and has a profound effect on our emotional wellbeing. Colour even affects the behaviours of everyone we live or work with. Everyone is influenced by colour. Everyone has a favourite colour; even if you think you are not a ‘colour’ person.
Today, I want to share with you the reason why colour has such an impact on our lives, minds and surroundings.
First, let’s dive into the science and psychology of colour for a moment before moving on to give you some top tips on how you can bring colour into your own home and improve the wellbeing of you and yours. As an interior architect, it’s something I’ve been doing in the most prestigious homes in Kensington, London for over 20 years.
And now- the fascinating science of how we see colour
We need light to see colour. In fact, colour is simply light. And, as you know, light is energy. When light strikes the eye, it converts into electrical impulses, and those impulses pass through the same part of our brain that processes our emotions.
Scientific research has shown us that every single shade of colour has a specific psychological effect; both as positive mood enhancers and as those that leave us feeling a bit flat. And this is happening whether we realise it or not.
You only have to think of how we are affected by the colours of the natural world to see what I mean. Think about how the sunshine fills us with happiness and optimism, how the greens of the forest give us a feeling of peace and tranquillity and how a dark-grey sky makes us want to stay in bed.
How each colour triggers a certain emotional reaction
In colour psychology, there are 11 main colours: red, pink, yellow, orange, brown, blue, green, purple, grey, white, and black.
Each of these can be stimulating, or soothing, depending on their intensity (saturation) – the more intense (deeply saturated) a colour, the more stimulating it is. For example, a bright red feels like a warning. But, in a lower saturation, such as baby pink, it’s more soothing and gives us a more compassionate, nurturing feeling.
But remember, as with so many things in life, it’s a fine balance between using too much and too little. But this is where you can trust your instinct. It will tell you when you shouldn’t go overboard or when you could be more adventurous.
How to inject colour into your home the right way
To get started, ask yourself some simple questions:
1. Are you looking for a quick, mood-lifting solution? If so, this can be achieved through simple accessories. For example, blue cushions, a red blanket, or yellow roses on your desk
2. Or would you like to achieve a longer-lasting, more permanent mood-enhancing atmosphere? Then look into paints and wallpaper, sofa upholstery, curtains, or blinds. For example, a light warm tiled yellow backsplash to protect a neutral wall in your kitchen.
3. How is the lighting in your space? Is it primarily natural or artificial? How does it change during the day, how bright does it get? Warm and bright lighting is key to keeping a positive mindset, especially if you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), as many people do during the winter.
4. Does a room in your home feel ‘busy and cluttered’, perhaps a kid’s playroom overfilled with colourful toys, rugs and posters? Long exposure to a space full of vibrant colours is a bad idea, as it overstimulates the brain, especially in the evening. A ‘de-clutter’ won’t just help free up physical space, it will free up the mind too.
5. What do you actually do in the space you’re looking at? In a home office environment, you can use a darker blue background to enhance focus and concentration. Whereas, in a living room, a deeper green will bring out a more restorative and restful repose.
Check out the guide below to find the effect you’re after and what colour you should use in your home to get it.
Quick reference guide on the 11 main colours and their effects*:
|Colour||Positive effects||Adverse effects||Ideal area in the home|
|RED||Energy, excitement||Can feel aggressive||In small dosage|
|PINK||Loving, compassionate||Fragile, emasculating||Nursery, bedroom|
|YELLOW||Happiness, confidence||Can become irritating||Hallways, breakfast area|
|ORANGE||Fun, playfulness & joy||Too frivolous||Kitchen, dining room|
|BROWN||Warmth, supportive||Heavy, draining||Study, living room|
|BLUE||Calm, serenity, focus||Withdrawn, cold||Bedroom, study|
|GREEN||Restful, restorative||Stagnation||Study, living room|
|PURPLE||Luxury, spiritual||Introversion, decadence||Bedroom, quiet space|
|GREY||Psychological neutral||Draining, hiding||As a backdrop only|
|BLACK||Aspirational, glamour||Oppressive, cold||To make a statement|
|WHITE||Clarity, simplicity||Isolation, sterile||Kitchen, bathroom|
Note: as mentioned above, darker or lighter shades of the above colours have different effects.
Using colour should be fun. Its use in your home can enhance your wellbeing, but only if you actually like the colour. It’s no good choosing a colour based solely on science. Remember to listen to your intuition.
And if you’re still not too sure, start with the low-energy and low-cost option. There’s no need to paint the whole room when you can start with a feature wall. There’s no need to throw out the sofa when you can start with a throw.
What better way is there to see how a colour will affect your mood than living in it?
Whether you’re looking to create a restful and restorative living room, a warm and supportive workspace, or a more calm and serene space for your excitable children, colour can become your perfect assistant. Why not move from home to haven through colour today?
For more information about Babette, her business, and how she could help you to improve your health, wellbeing and family life through home design, visit: www.babettebischoff.com
*Ref. Karen Haller ‘The Little Book of Colour’