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Psychology Of Colour

Design Theory Interior Design

If you’ve ever stood in front of a paint chip display and felt more than a tad overwhelmed, this article is for you! There is an entire science behind colour, from the way they’re created down to how they affect our temperaments and appetites. Putting aside the truly technical data, I’ve broken down some common colours and their associations to help get the vibe in your own spaces just right…

Yellow

Bright, luminous, sunny, cheerful. Soft yellows can seem expansive and open, which magnifies the feeling of spaciousness. Powerful, pure yellows can seem acidic and irritating in large amounts but imaginative and energizing in smaller amounts. A French-country kitchen sounds welcoming and warm, but yellows with too much intensity can also be anxiety inducing – be careful if you’re planning on using it in a nursery or child’s room.

Blue

Atmospheric, calm, and spacious; pale cool blue tends to recede and, therefore, often makes spaces feel larger, especially when used on high ceilings. Perfect for spaces that need a little inspiration and creativity, using pale blue can give you just the right amount of ingenuity and tranquility at the same time. Spa-like bathrooms, airy office spaces, and soothing bedrooms are ideal areas this colour can be put to work in!

Green

Restful, relaxing, and quiet, green is a favorite for many reasons… Deep greens can be somber by themselves but become fresh and full of life when contrasted against warmer colours. Paler greens are fresh and lively, and always look fantastic when paired with natural elements in a space like rich hardwood floors, or kitchen cabinetry.

Red

Arousing, exciting, and stimulating, red is also considered to be strong and masculine. It advances relative to other colours, making it appear closer – so large rooms might benefit from an accent wall in a deep hue to help make them seem cozier and less cavernous. Red is also associated with passion and vigor, making it perfect for dining areas or fitness rooms wanting to pack a little added punch.

Orange

Exciting, stimulating, and intense, the liveliness of orange has an almost whimsical quality that is less serious and more playful than red. One of my favorite accents to use for small touches of impact, orange is great on its own in monochromatic spaces of whites and creams. But for any of you out there trying to maintain a keen diet, keep this in mind: orange is an appetite stimulant! McDonald’s, A&W, and many other restaurant chains have cleverly used this colour for decades – so stick to small decor items or accents found in multi-tonal artwork to help keep your cravings at bay.

Grey & Brown

Conservative, quiet, calm: when mixed with subtle browns, greys can combine a warm richness with a sense of quiet dignity. Pale and light greys are contemporary and stoic, and look great when matched up with contrasting bright and vibrant shades. Brown is grounding, stable, and promotes a sense of security; it’s associated with the earth and natural materials, so it often conveys a sense of longevity and familiarity.

Purple

Rich, regal, and mystical, purple has both a calm yet mysterious psychological association. Deeper purples and violets have a powerful yet introspective association, making them perfect in spaces lacking drama and needing a pick-me-up. Pale lavender and mauve are soft, sensual, and are interpreted as appearing quieter.

Crispin Butterfield owns Urban Theory Interior Design, and has been designing soul-hugging residential and commercial spaces across Western Canada for the past 14 years.

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