The colours we use in our homes have a strong effect on how we feel; they affect our mood and our well-being. We even talk about colour using phrases such as Black Wednesday, red rag to a bull, green with envy, feeling blue and so on. But is it down to conditioning in the way girls in the playground will say they like pink and boys blue, or is there more to it than that? Do they say this to conform and be like the others?
Read on… Colour is simply light – the parts of the light spectrum that we see. Some of the light waves are absorbed by the thing the light shines on, while other light waves reflect off it. We see the reflected light waves as colours. We all feel good and happy (even clappy) outside in the natural sunshine and get winter ‘blues’ on dull winter days.When we buy paint for our kitchen or bathroom, it’s the light we see, bouncing off the colour. The same goes for all coloured items in the home, whatever they are made of. It’s the colour of the light that affects us – just like the natural light outside does.
So what do the various colours mean and how can they make us feel?
Red is intense and high arousal – associated with danger, energy and passion – red traffic lights, fire engines and love.
Yellow stands out and we notice it – a highlight colour shouting ‘look at me’. Associated with sunshine it’s uplifting but teamed with black they act as nature’s warning colours.
Pink is seen as a nurturing colour, indicates romance and is also associated with physical weakness and being soothing.
Blue, the colour of the sky and sea is cool and relaxing. It indicates reliability and intelligence, but to some blue is cold, dull and conservative (boring).
Green, the colour of a verdant landscape is calming and makes us feel safe and free – maybe because it shows a lush land of plenty.
Orange is made up of yellow and red, so like red, is full of energy and like yellow is seen as positive and imparting a feeling of happiness and contentment – think Buddhist Monks’ orange robes.
Purple is associated with royalty as the dye was originally made from molluscs and was rare and expensive. It’s also associated with magic and power.
Gold and silver are technically metals and not actually colours, however many items are made in metallic colours and these impart a feeling of prestige, wealth and luxury – but use sparingly or you’ll tip over into bad taste…
Black and white are not strictly colours (hues) but tones – and where would we be without them?
White stands for purity, honesty and tranquillity but can be rather clinical – doctors and nurses’ uniforms which are white to show sterility. White looks wonderful with paler colours for a softer look or used with darker colours or black for dramatic contrast.
Black is mysterious, serious and heavy, and used to imply evil and aggression, think Dracula, demons, Darth Vader. In the home it can look dramatic and rich, especially when combined with opulent colours. So what’s your favourite – and what does it say about you?