Did you know that color is the first thing most people notice of any item or place? Color is incredibly powerful. It influences us every minute of every day. Even when we’re sleeping, our dreams are rarely in black and white. This huge impact on our lives makes decision-making difficult when it comes to big ticket items – like choosing the color of your car, or the paint for your home.
Color is made up of three dimensions: hue, value and chroma. Most people use the word ‘color’ interchangeably with ‘hue’. This is the dimension we are most familiar with. The distinction between red / orange / yellow / green / blue / violet is introduced at a young age, and is emphasized in many children’s books. But color is more than just about hue. The psychology of color has been highly debated and forms the basis for design and art. Also, the impact of light and texture cannot be ignored. Here, we breakdown the most important aspects or colour psychology and how they can affect your mood. Armed with this information, you will be able to choose the perfect color for your home.
What are warm and cold colors?
Colors are visual entities. So why are they also described as warm and cool? This is a subjective matter based on the feelings you get when looking at specific hues. Scientifically, half the colors of the color wheel (comprising red, orange, yellow) are deemed to be warm. They remind you of heat or the sun, they draw you in, and they could make the overall space appear smaller.
The other half (comprising green, blue, violet) are seen as cool. These colors are less stimulating than their warm counterparts, and therefore evoke feelings of tranquility, reminiscent of nature and the sea. Cool colors can make a space appear larger.
On the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, warm colors have longer wavelengths while cool colors have shorter wavelengths
How Color Affects Your Mood
What Are The Most Relaxing Colors?
The color of nature, green helps to reduce stress and anxiety. This is perfect for the bedroom and is suitable for almost any other room in the house. It cools down the place, but does not make the room feel chilly as with some shades of blue. The relaxation that green induces also encourages a sense of togetherness and acceptance amongst different members of the household.
Light blue calms the mind and helps with stress relief. Research reveals that a blue interior reduces blood pressure, slows respiration and decreases heart rate – all in direct contrast to the color red. While calming and an excellent choice for the bedroom, blue can also evoke a feeling of depression and coldness.
On the other hand, dark blue aids focus and concentration. This makes it a great color choice for a home office to give yourself a much needed boost in productivity.
Avoid blue in spaces that already feel chilly (e.g. rooms that receive little natural day light), or counter these negative effects with warm-looking furnishing. Blue may also suppress your appetite; depending on how you would like the scales to tip, use this color cautiously in the kitchen and dining area.
Dark purple is rich and dramatic. In the past, purple fabric was extremely expensive due to difficulties in producing purple dyes. Only royalty could afford it, thus cementing its status as luxurious and elite. Excessive use of dark purple can lower energy levels, so this is best limited to only a single wall. On the other hand, lighter shades encourage relaxation with significantly lesser coldness as compared to blue. These are popular for use in the bedroom.
Pink is derived through a combination of red and white. Unlike red, this is a soothing choice and fits well in a nursery, kids’ playroom or bedroom. People report feeling calm, less angry and less aggressive in pink rooms.
What Are The Most Exciting Colors?
Probably one of the most highly researched colors, red is known to be very stimulating. This is great for getting conversations going, so go ahead and give your dining room a splash of red. It provides a feeling of warmth, but also makes rooms feel smaller. Avoid red in rooms dedicated to healing, meditation or rest. But some people like the idea of red in the bedroom. This works if you keep the lights dim, which reduces the intensity of the color and instead elicits a feeling of richness and elegance. You probably shouldn’t use this color in your (already hot) kitchen or rooms that receive strong direct sunlight.
Orange is an exciting color and, similar to red, stimulates conversation in social settings and creates a sense of urgency. Consider using orange in rooms dedicated to socializing (such as the dining area), but avoid in areas used for rest.
Yellow is the color of sunshine, sunflowers and many other things that shout happiness. This can lift your mood and energy levels – useful as a perk-me-up as you get out of bed each day. Hallways that usually appear dark can appear more welcoming with the use of yellow paint, which creates a sense of lightness. However, excessive use of the brighter shades can make you fatigued and anxious over time. Some studies suggest that people lose their temper more easily, and babies get upset more often. Softer shades do better as the main color scheme, while bright shades on a single wall can serve to accent an otherwise dull-looking room.
What Are The More Flexible Colors?
If you love brown, you likely enjoy nature and take comfort in the simple things. Darker shades can evoke a sense of richness and elegance, but may also make the room appear gloomy. If employed in the bedroom, you may feel unmotivated to get up and about when you wake up. Lighter shades may work better!
It’s no coincidence that hospitals use white so much. This is associated with cleanliness, hygiene and sterility – all the things you would expect of our healthcare system. For the same reasons, white is ideally utilized in the kitchen and bathroom. Because of the amount of light that reflects off it, white makes a room appear brighter and bigger. Opt for warmer shades in the bedroom to evoke a feeling of coziness. Cooler shades may make the room feel uncomfortably formal and cold.
Gray is a neutral color that has gained popularity in recent years. Previously associated with sadness, when used right it can add a touch of sophistication and depth to your living space. The best part? Neutrals (including gray) are generally flexible and blend in easily with furnishings and other features. It’s rarely at war with other colors. Nonetheless, we suggest avoiding gray in rooms for children, or where creativity is key.
Black is rarely used as the main color scheme, for it makes the room feel cold, small and potentially claustrophobic. Instead, it is a popular choice in small doses such as on an accent wall. These additions can provide a feeling of sophistication, class, confidence, drama or safety… and make an otherwise ordinary room appear more interesting.
How Does Light Affect Color
We see color only in the presence of light. When light falls on an object, its surface absorbs some colors and reflects others. We only see colors that are reflected. A discussion of color is therefore incomplete without light.
Natural daylight consists of a full color spectrum. Remembering that surfaces of objects absorb some colors and reflect others, natural light allows the “true” or “real” color to be perceived. There are also numerous health benefits of natural light. The cyclical daily changes in natural light regulate our mood, energy levels, metabolism and sleep. Earlier in the day, brighter and bluer daylight stimulates us and primes us for our daily activities. At sunset, daylight intensity drops and becomes orange or red. This induces relaxation naturally.
Apart from the daily cycles, natural light is also dependent on geographical location. In cooler regions, light has a blue quality. Warmer countries closer to the equator receive light that is warmer, yellower and brighter.
Natural lighting is important for your overall health and wellness, but the variability can wreak havoc with the mood effect you wish to achieve in your home. To counter this, rooms in cooler climates do better with colors that give the feeling of warmth (think red, orange, yellow and warm neutrals). In contrast, warmer climates do well with colors that are known to evoke coolness. This interplay of natural lighting and room color benefits your health without comprising the interior aesthetics.
Artificial light is man-made and is utilised when natural lighting is insufficient. This typically refers to light from electric sources today. The key advantage of artificial lighting is our ability to control it and eliminate the variability inherent in natural lighting. Artificial light sources include
- Incandescent light bulbs
- Fluorescent lights
- Light-emitting diode (LED)
Each light source has an intrinsic color temperature that gives the light a warm or cool bias. Typically, LED sources give off more blue light, providing a cooler tone. On the other hand, incandescent lighting gives off light that is warmer. These lighting effects should be evaluated concurrently with the overall interior design you are seeking. Understanding the impact of your lighting on colors will go a long way in helping you achieve the desired mood effect in your room.
And So Can Texture
Rough surfaces (carpet, brick, natural wood or stone) absorb more light and reflect little of it. Therefore, the color of such surfaces may appear darker and dull. In comparison, smooth surfaces reflect more light to our eyes. Their colors thus appear lighter and brighter.
Color is fascinating. Are you excited about giving your home a makeover? We hope that the information in this article made that decision-making process less intimidating. The most important thing, though, is probably to recognize that color is highly subjective. Each color also comes in different shades and different warm-cool biases. Get in touch with your inner Picasso and have fun!