Using Colour Psychology in the Home

Here’s my interview from the current winter addition of Spruce magazine:

Take advantage of the connection between emotions and colour to create a highly personalized and purposeful space.

By Athena McKenzie | Sourced Photos

While colour psychology is often associated with branding and marketing, it can also be an important tool in interior design. Each colour can inspire a variety of emotions, so it’s important to consider the mood you are trying to create when you’re deciding which hues to choose for your home.

“What is the psychological outcome that you’re hoping to get?” asks Sheri Peterson, interior designer and colour consultant. “Do you want the space to be energizing? Or do you want it to be relaxing and calming?”

Peterson recently completed her education as a colour consultant with the International Association of Color Consultants of North America. She says the organization emphasizes colour from the perspective of human well-being.

“It’s not about trends,” she says. “It’s not about marketing, and it’s not about colour of the year. It approaches colour from a psychological and physiological point of view.”

As Peterson explains, colour is all about where it falls on the colour wheel — its hue is the colour itself; its chroma how bright or dull; and its value, how light or dark it is.

Whether you’re just adding accents or painting the entire room, it’s also important to consider the cultural and personal implications of colour. “There’s going to be different connotations with colour for everybody,” Peterson says.

Red Paint

RED | “Red is rousing, exciting, stimulating and strengthening,” Peterson says. “But on the negative side, it can be aggressive, raging, intense, fierce and have anger.”

Orange Paint

ORANGE | “Orange is exciting, jovial, sociable, stimulating, extroverted,” she says. “But in strong hues, it can be intrusive, blistering or cheap.”

Pink Paint

PINK | “Pink varies a lot,” she says. “We have bright pink, like magenta or hot pink, versus a rose. Those are going to give you completely different psychological effects. Overall, it’s relatively comforting and a delicate colour, but it can be too sweet. Obviously, it’s considered a feminine colour.”

Yellow Paint

YELLOW | “Yellow is happy, luminous, cheerful, active, extroverted and lively,” she says. “Negatively, it can be glaring, and it can cause anxiety. It can be too intense and loud. It’s a very big colour.”

BROWN | “Brown encompasses wood and the earth, so we associate it with comfort — we have security. It’s stable, it’s dependable,” Peterson says. “Of course, it can be dirty, drab and boring, if it’s overdone.”

Modern dark deep green kitchen

GREEN | “Green is, in its purest hue, the most relaxing hue, representing nature, growth and rebirth,” she says. “It’s refreshing, but the potential negative [connotations] are decay, mould, sickness and envy. That depends on where it falls on the colour wheel.”

BLUE | “Blue is the ultimate peacemaker,” Peterson says. “It’s relaxing, retiring, calm, secure, trustworthy, sober, contemplative, assuring and quiet. Potential negatives: it can be cold, depressing, sad and can be distressing over long periods of time.”

GREY | “The true neutral, it’s quiet, conservative, calm, balanced and reliable,” she says. “But negatively, grey is dreary, tedious, passive, lacks energy and can be boring.”

WHITE | “White is celestial, hope, holiness, innocence, cleanliness, simple, pure and peace,” she says. “On the negative side, it’s clinical, uncaring, cold, sterilized, under stimulating and isolating.

Sheri Peterson, IACC, Vice President- IACC-NA

Accredited Colour Consultant/Interior Designer


[email protected]

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