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The emotions and meanings associated with colours

I have previously written a blog post on using light and dark tones to create moods.  This post delves deeper into what colours create emotions and how different colours can make you feel different emotions.

Colour arouses emotion like no other design element and you can use it to create any atmosphere that you desire.  

A beautiful space that reflects you will make you feel happy and relaxed, a place you can de-stressed and where you and your family love hanging out together.  For you this may be be bright and airy, calming, stimulating or nurturing.

Before we dive in, one thing I will say is that every colour can make every person feel different emotions.  There are many articles on colour psychology and how a colour is perceived generally, but I think that how colours make you feel is a very personal thing.  It is personal to you, a colour that makes you feel happy and comfortable may make someone else feel down and depressed.  It is important for you to live with samples of colours before you commit to it to make sure that you love how it makes you feel.

An all white room is calming

Colours and your emotions

I love grey.  I have many different tones of grey in my home and I love them all.  I find it calming and welcoming.  However,  I have had clients who find grey depressing and they can’t live with it.  When they walk in their front door their mood changes instantly for the worse.

That said, there are some colours that do tend to arouse the same emotions for the majority of people.  

Colours can associated with many different meanings and emotions,  for example, red is associated with love and affection like a love heart and Valentine’s Day. On the other hand it is used to warn of danger, it’s the colour of fire engines and sirens, so it can mean fear for some.

Muted reds and oranges are easier to live with than pure red

If you are a lover of red and you find it energising, I would recommend you use pure reds in small doses in any room. A feature wall, splashback or soft furnishings.

Orange is a colour that people either love or hate.  Vivid orange is bold and fiery, a very warm colour that can lift your mood and make you feel happy. It is also the colour of optimism and is said to boost the appetite This is why it is a colour recommended for dining rooms and kitchens. It is also a fun colour for kids so works well in a playroom.  

A bright burst of orange is a fun element in a white room.

Softer muted shades of orange like clay, copper and terracotta are a lot easier to live with as they are earthy colours.  If you like orange using these shades in your home will give a room warmth, and make it feel comfortable and homely and still has that mood boosting effect. Adding copper tones can add some elegance.

Yellow isn’t a colour that is very popular in interiors in its purest form even though is a sunny, warm and cheery and is associated with spring and playfulness.  It can be fatiguing to the eyes when used in large areas in your home so perhaps this is the reason for its lack of use.

Bright yellows, reds and oranges are energetic, warm and stimulating in their purest form.  In rooms where you relax and unwind, like bedrooms, these colours tend to overwhelm and overstimulate.  They are better suited to rooms where energy is required and you want to feel stimulated, like a dining room, where there is a lot of interaction and conversation. Again, children’s playroom are a good space to use bright yellow.

Splashes of yellow are bright and happy.

Red, orange and yellow in muted or light pastels are much more calming and subdued. So, if you these colours but want a relaxed feeling in your home, use less intense shades and keep all colours lighter or darker.  

Black is a colour that is associated with dark themes like halloween and night time. It is mysterious and secretive as well as powerful and strong. Black in interiors can look sophisticated when used in small doses.  It can feel oppressive when used in large areas in small spaces.  It is definitely a colour to be used in considered doses.  I love black but when it is broken up with lighter colours or as an accent.

This black feature wall defines this room.

Green is the colour of nature.  It’s associations are nurturing, growth and of new life . It is also associated with envy and feeling ill (green around the gills!!). Have you noticed many shades of green are named after food, like celery, sage, avocado, lime and mint?  Some of these name give a good description of the shade like mint is fresh and lime is zesty. Green rooms can be energising or nurturing depending on the shade. Many people love green for the feeling of bringing the outdoors in.

Shades like khaki, olive and forest green are more serious and can make your room feel more sombre and serious.

Bright, vivid green and turquoise are stimulating.

Blue is the most loved colour by people worldwide, according to one survey.  Light blue is calming and has associations with water, the sky and summer.  It is a colour that can make a bathroom or bedroom feel calm and fresh.  Dark blues, like navy, have a different feel to them as they are more serious and moody.  Still a good colour for bedrooms and lounge rooms where you want to relax but more intense and moody.

Blues are calming and cool.

Teal and turquoise are both popular colours for creating a calm and balanced feel and it is said to invigorate. A lovely mix between blue and green.

Browns are also and earthy and warm and are associated with comforting things like chocolate, coffee and cinnamon. Dark brown shades are great for adding depth to a colour scheme as it is strong and dependable. It also has an organic association as it is the colour of soil, brown paper bags and worms!!

Lighter browns like beige and caramel are more restful and can be used to warm up a pastel scheme whilst still remaining soft and peaceful.  

Browns are earthy and warm.

As a rule vivid colours are invigorating and lively, dark, muted colours are mellow and serious, light and pastels are soft and gentle, pale muted colours are restrained and sophisticated and metallics are opulent and glamourous.

The lightness or darkness of colours is as important as the actual hue when you’re trying to create emotions in your home.  As does the contrast between the colours, but that is a story for another post.

When you are deciding on colours for your home keep in mind the colours you are drawn to and why.  You will make better decisions about colours when you know how colours make you feel and the emotions they arouse.  

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Happy decorating.

 Trudi x

27 March 2018

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