Have you ever asked yourself why you feel so energised after stepping foot into a vivid red room scheme or so tranquil when in a beautifully neutral living space? It’s likely to be because of colour psychology in interior design, closely connecting colour to our emotions.
Colour psychology is used widely in branding and marketing but it’s also a powerful interior design tool that arguably has more of an impact on the mood of a room than any other factor. Different shades conjure various emotions so when debating on which hues to choose for your home it’s key to think about the kind of atmosphere you want to create and which colours will help you achieve this.
Since launching her interior design firm in 1998, American designer Amanda Nisbet has developed an esteemed reputation for her use of bold colour in her projects. “Using colour is not necessarily for the faint of heart, but its ability to singularly and definitively create an experience makes it one of the most important and valuable tools in interior design,” says the designer, “I respond intuitively to the use of strong colour and appreciate the visceral response people have upon walking into a colourful room. I love the idea of total immersion in a singular pigment. To me, this idea of creating a cocoon of colour can elicit a multitude of emotions from relaxation to passion.”
Whether you’re looking to add occasional bursts of colour or decorate your entire room from top to bottom, discover the emotive effects of colour psychology in interior design in our round-up of colourful projects.
Blue is, without doubt, one of the strongest hues of the colour psychology spectrum. Deep, bold hues, such as navy and royal blue, are great for evoking confidence and are associated with admirable qualities such as loyalty, trust, peace and success. Lighter shades of the colour instil a feeling a of calm and tranquility at home which makes them great for bedrooms, bathrooms and living spaces where you want to relax. The living room colour above by Amanda pairs a blue carpet with matching velvet upholstery and cushions to create statement yet luxurious results.
Image Credit: Greg Natale
Grey is one of those versatile colours that can take on a range of personalities. The shade in colour psychology is thought to influence perceptions of security, intelligence and solidity. It’s also said to stir a feeling of calm and composure – a quality that’s ideal for family homes with excitable little ones. As with any colour, the results depend largely on how you make use of the hue. It can be soft and delicate or strong and confident, as seen in this setting by Greg Natale. Here, walls are awash with a matte block grey, which dominants the room and acts as a sharp contrast against the white ceiling and skirting board, whilst the velvet sofa displays the hue in a softer focus.
"The shade is thought to influence perceptions of security, intelligence and solidity."
Timeless neutrals may be a firm favourite at LuxDeco HQ but we’re still in awe at daring colour schemes executed with class like this library by Janine Stone. Red is one of the more dramatic hues in the colouring book and one of the most enticing colours when it comes to rousing emotions. It’s often coupled with sentiments such as passion, excitement and energy. Ambition, action and will power are additional qualities attached to the the primary hue and that’s why red can be a productive choice for home offices and creative spaces. The colour is not only powerful in its most basic form in interior design psychology, but also boasts many beautiful sister shades including tomato red, crimson and burgundy. Whether you want to channel a rich, traditional aesthetic or a pop-art feel, red can provide a solution.
Image Credit: Janine Stone
Image Credit: Brendan Wong
Black is the go-to colour of all time in all aspects of life. Whether you don’t know what to wear or what colour of furniture to opt for, black’s neutrality gives it a fail-safe quality and promises sleek sophistication. It’s a proven accent colour but when used heavily in a room scheme, the psychology of this colour results in power, drama and mystery. What’s to love most about the dark shade? Black excels in modern and industrial settings yet it never dates so it offers a contemporary appeal to even traditional spaces – case in point, this dramatic yet refined space by Brendan Wong. Put a timeless spell on a room with crisp furniture arrangements, precise architectural details and modern upholstery.
"As it does in a wardrobe, black results in effortlessly chic interiors ready to be enhanced with any accent colour"
Image Credit: Greg Natale
Purple is associated with a wealth of wonderful emotions from depth and creativity to fantasy and nobility in colour psychology. It looks right at home in feminine spaces, such as this pretty bedroom scheme designed by Greg Natale, but deeper versions of the hue can also be incredibly masculine. It carries a regal charm and also suggests luxury, which enables the tone to bring real presence to a space. Think about using it in a dressing room to create a truly special getting-ready destination or let it take over your entrance hallway to impress guests at the first opportunity.
"Purple carries a regal charm and also suggests luxury which enables the tone to bring real presence to a space."
This bedroom scheme from Helen Green Design firmly supports the suggestions that brown is linked to feelings of comfort and relaxation. The rich brown wallpaper combined with a corresponding bed and sofa display is utterly inviting and summons thoughts of cosiness and companionship. Aside from working well in a private bedroom space for two, the neutral hue is also said to be a symbol of structure, support and stability. As a result, the shade lends itself well to areas such as living spaces and kitchens, providing a tasteful and timeless canvas for family gatherings. It can be super-luxe (as seen in these plush brown soft accessories) but also can work effectively in rugged, masculine environments as so many naturals materials, such as wood and stone, work a brown palette.
Image Credit: Helen Green Design
Image Credit: Amanda Nisbet
Terribly underestimated as a colour only to be used for little girls’ rooms, pink is a delicate hue in colour psychology which speaks of nurture, love and femininity. Its tones are comforting making it a favourite for bedrooms but it can easily be transferred to living room schemes if executed well. Give the colour a chance at adult life by opting for refreshing patterns and classic yet fuss-free furniture shapes like in this Amanda Nisbet design. An interesting combination of statement wallpaper and Art Deco-style console table make an unlikely but successful pairing.
"Give pink a chance at adult life with refreshing patterns and classic, fuss-free shapes".
It’s no surprise that yellow is connected with joy, optimism and energy in colour psychology. Whether it’s mustard, lemon or baby yellow, the hue is always unmistakably vibrant. Playful yellow shades make a perfect match for children’s bedroom and nurseries, but the colour can also be grown-up (à la this suite at Hotel Bel-Air) and works in practically any room you want it to. Like so many bright tones, it can be tricky to make work in a room from top to bottom, but statement yellow furniture and bold yellow accessories make for beautiful styling. Stick with golden shades and utilise the colour in darkened areas of your home to bring a feeling of light and space into action.
Image Credit: The Dorchester Collection
Image Credit: Drake Design Associates
Green is an extremely positive hue as it stimulates thoughts of balance, growth and restoration in colour psychology. It immediately brings the natural world to mind as it an incredible way to bring a refreshing sense of nature indoors, especially if your home is located in a city with little surrounding greenery. The hue comes in a variety of attractive shades, ranging from emerald and jade to olive and lime. It makes an ideal wall colour in spaces where you need to open your mind such as kitchens and home studies, and, as it’s closely linked to money, it’s a sensible choice for business properties.
"From emerald and jade to olive and lime, green is a beautiful colour in its many forms."