There has been a lot of interest in colour psychology lately, which is concerned with our emotional response to colour. The hues which we surround ourselves with every day can impact on our moods and state of mind much more than we think. As more people now work from home, the interest in the subject has never been greater.
Here’s a look at what effect the colours in your home can have on you, and how different colours have come in and out of fashion through the decades.
Blue is associated with calmness, nature, and serenity. Light blues can bring a sense of release and freshness, making it ideal for bedrooms and bathrooms. The darker blues convey a reassuring sense of orderliness and peace, and are serious colours which suit a home office or library.
Green is currently a very fashionable interior design colour, which is valued for its evocation of nature and new beginnings. It works well in all areas of the home, because it is an energetic and optimistic colour, which can also feel tranquil and soothing.
Red is linked to passion, energy and drama. It suits dining rooms particularly, because it is said to speed up the metabolism. Darker shades of red can create a sense of strength and warmth, which can suit a living room or bedroom. Lighter reds work well in creative spaces, to help stimulate thought and action.
Yellow is an uplifting colour, which can bring positivity and energy to a room. It works well in kitchens and entrance halls, but it may not be peaceful enough for a bedroom.
White brings clarity, freshness, and a blank canvas to a room. If you want the visual focus to lie in the wall art or furnishings, then white or other neutral colours such as grey and oatmeal are a good choice.
Traditionally the choice of royalty, purple is a luxurious colour, because it was once the most difficult dye to make, and therefore became a status symbol. It can feel welcoming and warm to some people, but others find it overwhelming. It’s also associated with the imagination, wisdom, and spirituality, so it could work well in a studio or reading room.
How the use of colour has evolved in interior design
While the connection between colour and human emotions has long been known, we have never before had so much choice in the range of shades, hues, tones, and textures available for home décor. Everything from bathroom tiles to sofas and ready made curtains can be found in any colour we can desire.
So when did we start to embrace the use of colour in interior design? The developments of the 19th century made much headway, when brilliant novel paint pigments were developed, and the first commercially available printed wallpapers arrived.
However, it was in the post war era of the 1920s and 30s that the use of colour really took hold. This was an age of technological advancement, with coloured plastics and emulsion paint now widely available, and more sophisticated paint and dye mixing methods were developed.
All this helped to create the brilliant jewel colours that were so fashionable during the Art Deco movement. The economy was booming and the optimism was reflected in rich extravagant colours, such as glossy blacks, jade greens, and amethyst. Hues which had rarely been used in everyday interior décor were now everywhere, such as silver, gold, and red.
After World War II, the celebratory tone came to an end, and more natural, muted palettes took over. It was an age of austerity for the majority of the population, and this was reflected in a more sombre approach to colour.
By the 1950s, there was once more a desire for more optimistic and joyful colours. The more uplifting colours of yellow, orange, and green became popular, and there was a resurgence of creativity in textile and wallpaper design. The traditional chintzy patterns became bolder and livelier, moving towards the abstract.
The 1960s was a decade of great social change and upheaval, and this was reflected in the vibrant and often psychedelic colours and patterns which were popular throughout the era. Clashing colours, such as tangerine and pea green, were used together, and the whole vibe was disruptive and youthful.
The 1970s saw muted, earthy tones return to favour, and more traditional patterns made a comeback. This gradually gave way to the booming neon loudness of the 1980s. By the 1990s and 2000s, trends were becoming more diverse, with some opting for calming neutrals, and others going for bold inspiring colours.