The effect of colour on your mood

“Colours… follow the changes of the emotions," the artist Pablo Picasso once said.


When choosing which shades to introduce to your home, it is good to remember that colour is a strong communication tool which can influence moods, feelings and emotions. How individuals perceive the effect of colour is often influenced by their personal experiences growing up.


It is well known that colours on the red side of the spectrum can evoke emotions ranging from warmth and comfort to anger and hostility. Whilst those opposite in the blue side create a sense of calm, but can also bring on feelings of sadness and indifference.


The healing power of colour


The idea of using colour to heal, or Chromotherapy, was important in certain ancient cultures and can still be seen in certain holistic therapies today. The concept believes that colours have the following effects on the body:

  • red - stimulates body and mind and increases circulation

  • yellow - stimulate nerves and purify the body

  • orange - heals lungs and increases energy levels

  • blue - sooth illness and treat pain

  • indigo - alleviate skin problems

By wearing and surrounding yourself with these colours, it is believed that mood and health can be positively affected.


Colour in everyday life

There are some uses of colours to influence certain emotions seen on a daily basis in modern life.


Red is a naturally eye catching colour, and perfect for athletic settings where people might react with greater speed or force and shown to increase vitality and motivation. Whereas silver gives a sense of modernity and innovation often seen in appliances and cars, and white implies freshness and cleanliness and can give evoke youthful feelings. Black is a powerful colour that we see a lot in luxury vehicles emitting mystery, and sometimes even slightly ominous. Some research has shown that blue hued streetlights has led to reduced levels of car crime, as it might conjure up feelings of stability, safety and trustworthiness.


Colour in your home

When considering which colours to use on your walls and in furnishings, consider what sort of mood you are looking to create within each space. Colours can have three different effects: active, passive and neutral. If you are using a certain colour in a large area, consider not only how it makes you feel, but also how the other users of the space might see it and try to choose shades that complement your lifestyle and have a positive effect on your mood.


Here is a quick summary of the main colour groups:


Blue

Is calming, relaxed and serene and great for bedrooms and bathrooms. It may help lower blood pressure, clear the mind and steady breathing.

Pastel blues however can be seen as cold and chilly especially when there is little natural light. Balance with warm hues and furnishings, and avoid dark shades that can evoke feelings of sadness when used in large expanses.


Yellow

Shades of yellow brightens moods and increases energy and happiness, so is great for use in a kitchen or bathroom where it can catch sunlight and leaves a feeling of liveliness. It’s not the best choice for a main colour scheme leading to feelings of frustration in large amounts - in fact babies have been found to cry more in yellow rooms!

White

Neutral shades create a fear of dirt in some, but also gives an automatic feeling of cleanliness and purity. White opens up spaces whilst giving neither a feeling of energy nor calm, but of cleanliness and lightness. Painting ceilings white or off-white give the illusion that the rooms are bigger and ceiling is higher.


Green

The colour most found in nature is great for home offices, and pretty much any room in the house and can reduce anxiety and encourage togetherness. It is one of the most restful colours and can be restorative, mind clearing and will encourage composure.


Purple

Historically the colour of royalty and luxury, dark shades are rich and dramatic. Purple is great for sparking creativity, but can be overwhelming when used in big areas. Lighter purples however like lilac and lavender are relaxing and calming and great for bedrooms.


Orange

Orange shades are exciting, energising and enthusiastic. Whilst not advised for bedrooms or rooms you want to relax in, orange is great for exercise spaces. It has also been known to stimulate appetite so may not be recommended in the kitchen!


Red

The fiery shades raise energy, blood pressure and irritability as well as being linked to romance and passion. The colour can stimulate conversation in a living or dining room setting especially after dark when illuminated by softer lamplight, and using it near the entrance to a house will create a strong first impression. It’s great for socialising, especially around Christmas, but again not for rooms that you will be relaxing in.


Pink

The ‘pink effect’ happens when exposed to large amounts of the colour, it has a calming effect and helps relieve feelings of anger, aggression and neglect. Lighter pinks are great for children’s rooms by promoting feelings of playfulness and kindness.


Try out a number of paint tester pots and samples of fabrics or carpets for a few days in both natural and artificial light to see how it makes you feel. What you love one day, you might have serious second thoughts about the next. Lighter colours make a room more airy and spacious whereas darker shades while feeling warm and more intimate may make a space feel enclosed and claustrophobic.