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Colour psychology

26 February 2017


"Colour in a picture is like enthusiasm in life" – Vincent Van Gogh

Ah. Colour. What a big word that little word can be.

I tried to google the word “colour” online and out came topics about psychology, symbolism, design. The wonderful truth is, we live in a world of colours (Thank heavens!) and colour lives in our world. Our environment is full of this brilliant creation so it is just logical to use it to its full potential for our own wellbeing.

It is just quite surprising to realise how a subtle transformation in colour can give such a significant effect in our experience. In fact, I did another online search and tried to look for a synonymous word with colour and, apart from the obvious related terms like tint and hue, out came the word “influence”.

So how do we exactly use colour in design to “influence” our lifestyle? I believe that each of us has his own unique association to each hue. This may be according to our cultural background, our upbringing, time of the year and, according to recent research, even our human genetics. I, for one, associate the color red with Santa Clause during December, and yet see doom and gloom with the same during my annual medical check-up on June.

”As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life” –John Lubbock, author of The Pleasures of Life.

This article, however, shall move away from the discussion of colour psychology of each type of hue. Here, we shall investigate the effects of the composition of colours in an interior environment and let the audience tackle on them and give their own conclusions according to their own perception.

Visual perception of Space

Dark colours are known to recede, therefore making a space look vaguely smaller and yet very intimate.

Visual perception of Space source: Pinterest

Lighter tones, however, are well known to expand, therefore creating a more spacious looking interior.

Visual perception of Space source: bloglovin.com via Pinterest

Pops of Colour

“For those colours which you wish to be beautiful, always first prepare a pure white ground.” – Leonardo da Vinci.

Need I say more?

Pops of Colour source: Pinterest

Colours are also known to give more umph and character to a rather clinical space.

Pops of Colour source: Huffington post via Pinterest

At times, it also adds a nice contrast which introduces an element of surprise.

Pops of Colour source: annporter.wordpress.com via Pinterest

Mood Swings

“Happiness is five different crayons” – Charlie Brown

Mood Swings source: mydomaine.com via Pinterest

“Two kinds of ice cream” – Charlie Brown

Mood Swings source: designbuildideas.eu via Pinterest

“Happiness is coming home again” – Charlie Brown

Mood Swings source: interiordesignerinspiredbylove.blogspot.ae via Pinterest

The Feminine and the Masculine

Pinks are well known to project a feminine atmosphere

The Feminine and the Masculine source: indulgy.com via Pinterest

But not always

The Feminine and the Masculine source: pixers.net via Pinterest

While blacks are better known for masculine environments

The Feminine and the Masculine source: mydomaine.com via Pinterest

But black has also been associated with feminine elegance and glamur since the emergent of the little black dress.

The Feminine and the Masculine source: Pinterest

Tranquillity vs. Stimulus

Neutral colours are a popular choice for giving a calm and relaxing aura

Tranquillity vs. Stimulus source: home-designing.com via Pinterest

And reds are meant to stimulate and suggest movement

Tranquillity vs. Stimulus source: designspiration.net via Pinterest

Yet, I always find it amazing how a little lighting concept can suggest an alternative approach

Tranquillity vs. Stimulus source: aunatural.tumblr.com via Pinterest

Colour Temperature

It’s quite interesting how colour temperature can actually affect our subliminal in terms of the actual thermal comfort levels.

Warm Colour Schemes

Colour Temperature Colour Temperature Colour Temperature source: Pinterest

Cool Colour Schemes

Colour Temperature Colour Temperature Colour Temperature source: Pinterest


Each hue is said to have its own psychological, emotional and spiritual impact in a design scheme.

Hues Hues Hues Hues Hues Hues Hues source: Pinterest

But the truth of the matter is; monochromatic schemes are not always the best interior design solution to every proposal.

So what is Therefore, Therefore?

Interior design is a harmonious arrangement of colours, patterns, texture, lines and forms.

So what is Therefore, Therefore? source: studio11design.com via Pinterest

It is the act of mix and matching these elements to come up with an aesthetic but practical solutions to design problems that should ideally please and serve our paying clients.

So what is Therefore, Therefore? source: architecturaldigest.com via Pinterest

It is the power to choose to get psychedelic

So what is Therefore, Therefore? source: trendland.com via Pinterest

Or to restrain

So what is Therefore, Therefore? source: trendland.com via Pinterest

Suffice it to say, it is true that colour has a huge impact in an interior design scheme. But there is no standard solution for every problem. As interior design is for the people and vice versa, Interior Design should be tailor made to the personalities and lifestyle of the intended users. And as every person has a unique personality, no interior design solution should be the same. This gets even more complex when there are more than 1 person using the space.

Is that difficult to accomplish? Of course. It takes training, experience, cultural background and even personal values and aesthetic taste, with a little bit of empathetic skills. But it’s the exciting process of searching for the right solution to every problem that makes this profession even more valuable!

Are you in love with Interior Design? Learn more about Colour Theories by signing up on our online Interior Design School to get your own accredited diploma on Interior Design and be a fully certified Interior Designer.